From City Life to Organic Farming

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Ramesh on Messenger, who told me out of the blue: “Guess what Christelle? I am building my own farm, it will be finished soon!” Ramesh is around my age (in his 30s), living a city life in Chennai Tamil Nadu – India, and working as a professional photographer. It blew my mind I had no idea about this amazing project!

In the past few years, many people around me have expressed the need for a complete life change. Some made it happen, like my friends Louis and Elodie, originally from Paris, who are now renovating a farm in the  North of France with the intention of providing a relaxing and peaceful environment for parents of children with severe disabilities.

I strongly feel that these stories reflect a growing urge from our generation, not only in my country but worldwide, to be more connected to nature rather than our smartphones, to go back to the essentials. This is why I decided to share Ramesh’s inspiring path :

Can you tell me more about yourself and your life in Chennai TN?

“I am originally from Kerala. When I settled in Chennai, the city had an amazing weather compared to most places. But as IT companies started booming, everything changed: air and water pollution, bad quality food, making a living became much harder … These past 35 years, I have lived in a very crowded part of the city where the traffic is crazy. But crowded places are not for me.

My passion is wildlife photography. Everytime I go to the forest for a shoot, I definitely do not look forward to come back to the city! Being in the nature makes much more sense for me.

In 2005 my food and life habits had become absolutely disastrous. I was drinking 2 liters of Coca Cola per day and eating a lot of junk food. Working continuously for 2 to 3 days and night without getting any sleep was part of my everyday life. I was travelling around South India for work without proper rest and food. I was feeling that photography was helping me to make money and fulfill my passion without thinking further”.

How did this idea of building your own farm grow?

“2013 was a turning point in my life. I started to develop a severe dry cough. I consulted several doctors but none could give a proper diagnosis. I was finally admitted to the hospital where they ran some tests to find out that my creatinine level was unusually high. The fluids which could no longer be filtered by my kidneys had come into my lungs. My blood pressure was so high that my heart muscle had thickened. I had developed a cardiomyopathy. I stayed ten days in the hospital and took medicine for a month. Then I tried to continue the healing process through a super healthy diet and lifestyle, and it worked.

This is when I began reading books about Yoga, natural food, Siddha, Ayurveda [traditional medicines from India], and slowly moving away from photography.

I started a yoga practice, collected one hundred Indian medicinal plants to grow on my terrace. I tested the benefit of different kinds of food on my own body. To deepen my yoga practice, I followed a teacher training program at a Sivananda Ashram where I also learnt the professional way of juice fasting (which I was already doing regularly).

Now all of this has become a major part of my life: I work as a photographer a few days a month and the rest of my time is used to practice yoga and gain more knowledge.

In 2011 my father had bought land in Panapakkam near Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu. Initially, that land was acquired with the intention of selling it in the future. But I got the idea to shift all my medicinal plants there and to build a small place to stay. It is still under construction and it will hopefully be finished in a few months”.

Ramesh with workers on site.

Do you know anyone or have you heard of anyone  who has a similar project?

Yes, three of my friends have similar projects.

One of them was into CNC machine selling business before switching to organic farming. He settled three years ago. He has already started to sell fruits and has about twenty dairy cows. My other friend is a banker and is also planning to be an organic farmer. He has been visiting me to collect information for his new activity. One of my classmate also bought land in the countryside. She is planning to move out of the city next month.

I find this very exciting because this is great opportunity to share ideas, techniques, and learn from each other’s experiences”.

What do you intend to grow?

“The building will be 1000 square feet. The rest of the land (29.000 sq feet), which is plenty of space, will be used to grow organic fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants.

When I was taking care of my herbs back in Chennai, I had the opportunity to test organic farming techniques. Today I also get a lot of information from the farmers in the neighboring areas. They are more than happy to share their knowledge. They showed me very recently how to plant coconut trees, which has to be done in a very precise manner.

I am also using Panchagavya, an organic mixture mostly made of cow dung, cow urine and milk, which works both as a fertilizer and a natural pesticide.

My farm is located in an area where the weather is extremely hot in the summer. So I am planning to plant neem trees, bamboos, paradise trees and Indian beech trees on the property. They will help bring fresh air, give shade and purify the oxygen”.

How do you see this project evolve in the future?

“For now, my main focus is on developing the farm. But in the future, I definitely want people to benefit from my experience. This is why I often say that I want to live life like a tree, because a tree always gives (food, well-being, protection from the rain, the sun …) without taking. I want to share what I know, what I have.

So I plan to create a yoga center along with the farm activity, where people could come for yoga retreats in a peaceful environment and benefit from natural healthy food. Amongst other projects, I would like to develop gardening workshops for children because I believe helping the future generations to connect with nature is absolutely necessary.

I think this is also an opportunity to raise awareness about farming. I find it very sad that not so many people acknowledge all the work and dedication required to produce something so essential for us. We tend to take for granted the food that lies on our plates. But farmers are really the ones who feed us”.

If you feel like sharing your experience, or give your impressions about Ramesh’s project, feel free to leave a comment !

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19 Responses

  1. Rekha says:

    That’s really fascinating. Look forward to visit your place sometime.

  2. Chandu Reghu says:

    Wonderful story. Really great effort by Stalin Ramesh. He’s my cousin and I know his dedication and passion for work. The level of commitment he has put into this project is amazing. It takes guts for a professional photographer from Chennai city to start organic farming in a village from scratch. Trust me, it wouldn’t have been if it’s not true passion. I wish him all the very best and hopefully I would visit his farm during my next vacation. Cheers.

  3. Niveditha says:

    Great !!! Wish you all the best. Hope soon your friend send out a success story of your organic farm.

  4. Nandakrishnan says:

    Hi Ramesh…. it is awesome to read your transformation from professional photographer to org farming…. In fact I am having this thought for the past 5 yrs and regret that I couldn’t able to move ahead on this… I will meet you soon Ramesh…. congrats….

  5. Santhosh Kumar R says:

    First of all I congratulate and wish him good luck for his effort towards Good cause.

    Myself Santhosh
    I and Ramesh know each other officially for the past 4 years. photography made us attach personally as a good friends.

    As he mentioned in the post when he was under medication for his cardiac problem, he use to tell me that he Heal himself using Herbs.

    “Herbs!!! Natural Therapy !!!”

    I didn’t believe it initially but after few months when i met him with good old physic, I was Shell shocked seeing his recovery, that moment I started believing on herbs and natural medicine.

    Again after few months he walk me through the doors of Meditation “Art of Living”. He told me about the miracles of meditation i was surprised (sarcasm: because I didn’t believe at all) but when i started learning about it I was completely into different world.

    Many people have determination but few pursue it.
    Many people preaches but Ramesh experiment himself.

    All The Best

    I wish I join my hands with you in future, Thank you

  6. Vinoth says:

    Good work Stalin…working towards a sustainable green earth is what the world is looking up to….and you have started doing it already…thumbs up to you…hope will join you soon to make earth a more friendlier and a healthy place to live at least for the generations to come….

  7. Thank you Christelle 🙂 Love everyone join us growing plants and tree. Wish you write more blog on changing earth to Green. All the Best.

  8. Arumugam Madhumalar says:

    Wow!! Way to go Stalin! your experiments with life is always amazing!
    This story of yours is truly an inspiration for the generations to come!

  9. Nithya Kandhan says:

    Dear Ramesh, it’s heartwarming to read how u have transformed ur life over the years. I can see the positivity,passion & commitment in ur project. I feel proud that I know u personally & I eagerly look fwd to coming personally & experiencing ur hospitality. I guess ur inner peace has helped u channelize ur energy in to positive growth which will greatly benefit ur fellow beings too. God bless. Ur Dear friend & fellow Yogi Nithya. Om

  10. Vidyasankar says:

    A 360 degree panoramic turn in your life, now. Nature is the best teacher and healer. Commendations for your efforts and best wishes as always.

  11. I know Stalin for over a decade. The day when he used to work on DTP, Xerox at his home/ office in Arcot road. I was lucky to meet him as a fellow student while learning photography. As he has honestly agreed, Stalin used to have the most unhealthy lifestyle and I used to advise him. Today the way he lives life itself is a lesson to me. According to me he is one of the best fine art photographers in Chennai. The last I met him was an year ago at his Arcot Road home and he showed a number of herbs and plants planted over his rooftop. He did tell about the ailments he was facing and the natural cure he was working on. Glad to know today he is fit as a fiddle. From roof garden to 29,000 sqft farm in such a short span is a miracle. Its great to read about him. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Neethu says:

    Soo happy for you annna …lol

  13. Dhinesh says:

    Stalin.. I will visit one-day.. Buddy..

  14. Gasthurie Kanagachandran says:

    This is awesome, Stalin Ramesh. I really admire you. Today’s world is in need of more and more organic farming as human health has become a part of business nowadays. It’s amazing and hats off to you having taken then great initiative to become part of nature. Wish you all the very best!

  15. Praveen Kumar P S says:

    Way to go Stalin!

  16. Gunasekaran D says:

    Great work Ramesh and an inspiration too. Keep up the good work.

  17. PrabhaRaja says:

    Great effort…..wish you all best

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