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Since 1997, Lucas had been searching for a plot of land, in order to develop it into a demonstration site for growing organic cashew nuts. In October 1998, the Auroville Farm Group offered him the northern corner of Auro Orchard. The total area is fourteen acres, of which 4.5 were already under cashew. There are also about seventy coconut palms and some land that Auro Orchard had been using, but had become economically unsustainable.

Lucas and his team put an additional four acres under cashew, with the intention of growing peanuts and gram in between. There is a bore well with an electrical pump and booster pump. The flood irrigation for the coconuts (to be changed for micro-sprinklers) is supplemented by mulching and ground cover crops, to prevent evaporation of water. The area that is already under irrigation will be more intensively cultivated with various fruits and vegetables. In the open fields, fodder and field crops will be grown. There are a one bull, for cart and plough work, and three cows to decrease the outside purchase of organic manure.

The aim of Auro Annam is good health of the Auroville community, and their immediate neighbours, by providing a natural and profitable alternative to pesticide grown cashews in the bioregion, through research and experimentation.

Auroannam is quite unique among AVFG farms, in that its main income is a cash crop from monoculture. The longer-term, and much broader, aim of the farm is that Auroville becomes a viable eco-town that does not financially compromise on health. The eventual focus is therefore more on the broader AV community, and the immediate neighbourhood, although at this early stage in the farm's development, activities remain mostly at the farm level.

So far, the farm has received financial support from two German NGOs. Lucas is also in contact with Indian NGOs that work in the field of sustainable agriculture, and maintains links between AV farmers practicing biodynamic farming. Auro Annam welcomes serious students, for whom guest accommodation can be arranged.

For more information contact Mawite Tonsing (phone 262-3391; e-mail AuroAnnam or Mawite. Alternatively, visit the website AuroAnnam
See also “Eco-Pro”.