Introduction: 

How often have we thought about leaving behind the city chaos and leaving among nature? The concrete jungle out of sight and in the laps of nature. Sure renting out places for a few days can be a break but what if you could hold onto a piece of a farm in a forest. That too only for as long as you want. 

Sunith Reddy an IIT ALumnus, from Hyderabad, had already tried many ways to adopt a sustainable lifestyle in the city. But it had many hurdles. He also tried small-scale framing but it did not yield anything significant. 

In 2017, the team of Sunith Reddy, Sameer Shisodia and Shaurya Chandra quit their corporate jobs to build up their dream forest. They decided to bring economical, ecological and social change.

With the aim of collective farming in mind and building a sustainable community, BeForest came to exist.

BeForest– a food forest that is self-subsistent in many ways. 

BeForest
The Beforest community

These forest farms can double up as both farmhouses and food forests for the owners. 

“We created and managed a sustainable food forest and collectively owned living spaces based on regenerative farming methods leading to food, water and power security,” says Sunith. 

The idea behind a collective: 

People would definitely hesitate to buy such a large piece of land. Here, BeForest plays the role of an enabler to help set these farms up. But these are not individual small pieces of land. A collective, roughly100 acres of land, owned by several people eventually becomes a small village-style hub with a low carbon footprint. There are many advantages of these collective farm forests. As the land is huge, it enables a diversification in produce. The professional team of BeForest helps in better landscape and farm planning. They also look after the management of the shared resources with responsibility. 

How does BeForest operate: 

BeForest
A collective member

Forming a community:

The team plans a proposal for a particular location where they want to set up the collective forest farm. The people interested get in touch with the team. The team makes them deposit a booking amount. Here on, the community makes all decisions regarding the design of the land and the team is just an organizer. 

Planning the land:

After the area and community is locked in, the members can evaluate their needs and ideas with the team. The options specific to the area are put in front of the community and they mutually decide what to go ahead with. In this period, they also fix all legal formalities regarding land ownership and contracts. Once the collective is fully subscribed, they begin with the farming process. 

Analyzing the place design: 

The team then studies the natural system of the place like the landscape, water sources and the entire biodiversity as such keeping all that in mind they prepare a master plan for the layout of the infrastructure of the region. The placement of houses, management systems, power sources, pathways, etc. This process would usually take about 3 to 6 months. 

 

Executing the planning: 

These farm forests highly depend on the permaculture method. Through this method, the land becomes self-sufficient over time. It supports natural spontaneous growth and eventually doesn’t even need water. This also requires a lot of land work. At the same time, the team also builds all the other necessary infrastructure. This would take approximately more than a year. The forest homes are also built to be sustainable using Compressed Earth Blocks and other ecological materials.

housing in forests
Houses in a collective

 

Once the collective is completely ready for people to move in, the members can start getting involved in different capacities. 

“The community members decide a chartered course on how each collective is run and receive a proportionate share of the revenue generated from the farming and related activities at each collective,” Sunith says. 

Collectives around India: 

The Poomale Collective, Coorg:

This collective was the first initiative of BeForest. Set around 128 acres of land, the design of the land helps one connect with nature and is highly viable. The biodiversity of the region is a wonderful treat to the collective owners. Respecting nature, the food production activities have been restricted to only half of the area. The area is very famous for its coffee produce. All the harvested produce is first offered to the collective owners and the remaining is sold under their brand name,‘BEWILD.’ 

The Beforest Coorg collective
The Coorg collective

The Hyderabad Collective: 

Based 31kms out of Hyderabad Outer Ring Road, the 138 acres of land is already occupied by 90 members. Plans are on to deliver phase 2 of this project. The team has consciously divided the area for various elements of a food forest. 

The Mumbai collective: 

This is a new project, based 85 kms. from Mumbai in the foothills of Sahyadri. This 100 acres of land has already gained 65 members. This resilient and sustainable forest is just like all the other collectives with facilities like earth homes and waste management. 

“Some of my friends were part of the Hyderabad collective, and the concept intrigued me. My wife and I always felt passionate about sustainability and the collective focus on the same values. The best part of the concept is that the collective is not chasing any commercial gains, and the values of sustainability are non-negotiable,” says Kranti Kakkabe. 

Conclusion: 

There have been many hiccups in the way to establishing BeForest for Sunith, Sammer and Shuaurya. Obstacles like buying of large lands, government permissions, seeking long-term buyers who share their common goal of sustainability and making gradual but consistent success in the venture. They have also tried to keep pricing in check, with homes starting as low as 40 lakhs. Many people across the country are warmly welcoming this idea of a holistic lifestyle. 

Read more about such change-makers:

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Tarun Jami, an engineer’s solution to make sustainable infrastructure | Change Makers

RAVI NISHAD- A 31-YEAR-OLD I.T. PROFESSIONAL, QUIT HIS JOB TO HELP 400 FARMERS PURSUE ORGANIC FARMING | CHANGE MAKERS 

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