The concept of sustainability is based on clairvoyance. It is about maintaining rich environs for the future through balanced ecology, which can support itself through a number of ways while enduring the contemporary options. Probable ways include farming techniques, composting, recycling and giving back to Nature in the smallest way that can make a change.

I could get lost amongst the greenery
The vanilla branches across trees

Dr. Sujata and Dr. Anurag Goel have converted 25 acres of land to create a diverse ecosystem. Rainforest Retreat in Mojo Plantation, Kodagu is nothing short of a self-sustaining natural forest which has been cultivated just as organically to be tamed wildly. This plantation witnesses the highest amount of rain in the district and originally, only cardamom trees were grown here; until borers and other viruses started affecting their health. It was then that the Goel couple decided to understand the disease soil deep and develop methods of controlling the pests that spoil the plants and deteriorate the soil. After two decades of hard work, the plantation now grows vanilla, pepper, pineapple, oranges, passion fruit, mango and kokam, amongst the original cardamom and coffee. It also enjoys large uncultivated spaces which grows a healthy bed of weeds. This in return allows a good breed of predators and other small creatures which encourage a diverse ecosystem.

A large snail
Endangered ferns in Mojo

The electricity supply in the cottages are supplied by the solar panels and the Pavillion and the dining hall are the only places which provide charging point for gadgets and other electrical appliances.

Luna cottage as seen from the dining hall
The corner by the dining hall

There is a natural stream that runs through this eco-retreat. This is also serves as the source of water for the every day needs within the property. A shelter for six cows (and a new-born calf), goats and geese, this property also homes six pedigree dogs. Except Venus, the friendly one, all the other dogs stay by Sujata and Anurag’s cottage.

Venus leads the way
Berries of Robusta coffee

Perhaps the most attractive feature of this rich canopy is the biogas plant, which converts the waste from the entire property into a reusable energy for the kitchen and the compost.

A natural pond that bears eggs of frogs essential for the biodiversity
The uncultivated sections for weeds to grow

My stay at the Rainforest Retreat was short and the Monsoons does come with its limitations. As I stepped away from this natural habitat, I felt myself more and more drawn towards it. What does it take to bring a good idea to life? There are a multitude of reasons. But perhaps it was after my lunch with Sujata and Anurag when I was convinced that only true passion fuels them.

The real deal
My first passion fruit. From Sujata

In the time and space that we live in, sustainability seems like an idea to most of us. However, when I meet people like Sujata and Anurag, I am energised by optimism and am convinced that no matter how little I do to support this, it will still affect lives. After all, change starts with one.

Using bamboo to bridge across the stream
While hiking up to the Shola Forests through the shrubs of the beautiful Nilgirikurinji

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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