In With the New

Innovation and Expansion of New Vrindavan’s Small Farm Training Center

Part 1: Interview with Tapahpunja dasa

Brijabasi Spirit recently caught up with Tapahpunja dasa, Project Director for the Small Farm Training Center. He had recently returned to New Vrindaban after a two day visit to ISKCON’s Gita Nagari Farm in central Pennsylvania. We asked him about his outreach projects like the Green Wheeling Initiative as well as about this year’s New Vrindaban food production plans. The Small Farm Training Center oversees two temple owned growing sites, the ½ acre Teaching Garden and the 6.5 acre Garden of Seven Gates.

BS: What’s happening in Gita Nagari?

TP: Gita Nagari is on the cusp of an agricultural boom. Dhruva Maharaja dasa Parijata Dasi, along with Bali Maharaja dasa and some new arrivals, have expertly restructured Gita Nagari’s farm production capacity. With the help of five government grants, they’ve installed an irrigation system capable of delivering water to over 150 acres of prime farm land. Gita Nagari’s CSA (community supported agriculture) has expanded to 115 families, all of whom received fresh Gita Nagari grown veggies last summer on 26 occasions in cities like Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.

BS: Give us the nutshell version of your production plans for this year’s ag. cycle.

TP: In two words: expansion and innovation. With the support of the temple and the ECOV team, the Garden of Seven Gate’s irrigation system is 75% installed. That means we can predictably deliver water to approximately 3.5 acres of vegetable and berry production. Last year’s 9 week drought really put the whammy on how much we could grow and successfully water.  ECOV grant funds are   also paying for the renovation and construction of our three high tunnels (unheated greenhouses). They will be put into production in late August for a winter and early spring harvest.

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