Insect Refuge – A Distinction

ARDEAF & Padma Farms: A Sustainable Partnership

Insect Refuge – A Distinction

Nearly 40% of insect diversity and biomass have been depleted in the past three decades in India, and about 2% disappear every year, causing serious threats to pollination. Pesticides are the prime cause of this catastrophe as people fail to foresee that the very children they dote on are the ones being pushed into food insecurity by themselves.
In the past five years, Padma Farms of Farmer’s House in Mysore has been raised as a natural haven for insects, conserving over 275 species on a landscape of 4 acres. We periodically conduct insect censuses and grow over 50 types of fruits and 40 types of vegetables, primarily reserved for farm wildlife and secondarily accessed for human consumption. Dr Padma Sudarshan meticulously curates these farms and sustains them as natural food forests.

ARDEAF, an International Foundation that aspires to set up nationwide insect refugee camps, has pledged preservation and sustainability assistance to Padma Farms and plans to emulate our example in different regions of the country.

Ongoing Battle With Fire

During the summer months, Padma Farms bustles with activity as more than 60 types of fruit begin their journey to fruition. The farm becomes a thriving ecosystem where birds, insects, frogs, reptiles, and small mammals spin in the intricate tapestry of life. Amidst this abundance, however, lingers a deep-seated fear – the fear of fire.

A ferocious fire tore through half of the Eucalyptus forest just beyond the Padma farm’s gate. And farmhands stationed at the fence, clutching hosepipes, were prepared to act if the fire encroached on the farm. The sad reality is that not a single year passes at Padma Farms without a fire incident. Maintaining a constant vigil at the fences is a monumental task, and if the fire were to strike during the silent hours of the night, there would be neither water nor staff to quell the flames.

According to a 2022 study by Science Direct, over 85 percent of fires are deliberate rather than acts of nature. In addition, a 2021 publication in Psychiatric Times clearly states that ‘pyromania’ afflicts 1 in 100 individuals.

This time of the year, the flood of fire seems more ominous than the soothing rains, even though the sky currently bears not a trace of drifting clouds.

What's The Story Of A Cobweb?

That’s a thick sheet web that almost looks like a hammock. If an insect wears a human mind and goes easy on this silken hammock to reflect lazily on the beauty of its farm haven, death will bite it from below.

Are there other stories for a sheet web? Indeed, it works like a Polly house and increases heat for the leaves below, causing the greenhouse effect. Now, the fast-growing healthy leaves are challenged to break through the web to spring into the air. It may be worth the energy-consuming effort because the leaves are now health-insured by the spider that devours the leaf-eating caterpillars.

Nature has more stories than what we often discover in textbooks. After all, a web is a hammock of entanglement – even for the mind.

Morning Flowers

Moringa flowers are among the prettiest. Rich in vitamin A, they are known to protect vision, health, and immunity. One other thing about them is that the bees love them, too. And so, long story short, moringa flowers do the technical backstopping for overall food production in the tropics.

Ignorance Of The Unseen

We farmers are obsessed with making a bed or basin below the plants to impound water for the roots. Once in at least a quarter, we bring in workers to make these beds for the hundreds of plants we have at the farm. We even fill these beds with dry biomass. We seem to innately believe that water and nutrition funnel down to roots through these beds that we make. Our intension is too systematic.

In actuality, we know not about the sprawling kingdom of roots below the surface. We often think that we should hire a Ground Penetrating Radar to map the roots in the farm to find out how they spread below the soil. Perhaps, that could make us wiser on how to feed our plants, by establishing correct watering points.

Till then, in spite of the common sense, there is this ignorance of the unseen. And there is an unreasonable bliss in this ignorant bed making pre-occupation.

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