Development of the Gardens at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya
Have you ever visited the Lakshmi Gardens at The Ashram? Most of you probably have. Considering the patient development from untamed greenery towards a well-maintained park over the years, we can appreciate our garden much more, as it has become a metaphor for the work of the Guru.
Even years ago, at the smaller Steffenshof ashram, there was – at Guruji’s wish – a beautiful native garden with vegetables and flower meadows. But transferring that beauty to our current ashram turned out to be a challenging task. Just digging 5 cm deep into the soil, you would hit rocky terrain. In order make anything grow here over the years, the whole landscape had to be changed – not just a small place, but every place! - and of course it didn’t happen overnight. Such is the work of the Guru, that once we take shelter at His feet, we can leave our old identity behind and embark on a new journey, filled with the Love of God.
2008 – 2012
At the beginning, in 2008, the ashram garden team consisted of just one prabhu, today known as 'DJ Bhavesh'. In 2011, Girikumar (supported by Waltraud) took over and pushed for the development of good soil and fertile land: massive amounts of earth were not only moved, but also sieved as they were full of rocks. The earth under the greenhouses was excavated to one metre with the help of our JCB (affectionately known because of its colour as 'the Bumblebee'). Then it was filled up with cow manure and good mother soil. The lower fields, where today the fruit orchard and vegetable gardens stand, were gradually built up with a layer of freshly cut grass and cardboard to prevent any weeds from coming up. On top of that came a layer of manure and finally good soil, which we made by ourselves by sieving the soil four times (!) through a net, again to filter out the countless rocks. Thus, a start had been made. Similarly, the Guru, the Supreme Gardener removes barriers, uproots old behaviour patterns and grants deeper experiences, all to get us started on the spiritual path.
2013 – 2019
In 2013, Punita from Russia joined to maintain the vegetable garden. She replaced Giri, who would transition to take care of the cows and bees.
In 2016, Sudhamayi from Germany joined the team to look after the flower garden. Over the years, the garden thus gained shape: uncultivated areas were developed into flourishing ones and a standard approach was found – to completely exchange and refine the garden soil down to 1 metre. Again, during many hours of seva, earth was excavated, and rocks removed. The garden received a completely new foundation with 1-year old cow and horse manure, which had to be compressed by foot. The manure acted like a sponge and helped to keep the moisture longer in the ground (which is essential since the Lakshmi Gardens are located on top of a hill, with its consistent wind drying out the soil). The top 30 cm of the new flower beds were covered with freshly sieved soil, to minimise the amount of rocks as much as possible. Forming a basis for our gardens this way we added old manure onto the fields and flower beds as natural fertiliser. Effective microorganisms applied during the early summer months helped to break down the nutrients of the manure. As a result, the manure turned into good, rich soil. In addition, we regularly apply ashes from our heating system as well as from the yagnas (Hindu fire ceremonies), the latter being a scientifically proven method to increase the plant growth as it not only contains vital plant minerals but also the subtle vibrations from the yagna. This fact is supported by the evidence of repeated strong growth of our flowers and plants. As the top layer of our fields, the soil is regularly covered with fresh compost, a mixture of fine wood chips and plant compost. It decays within one season to a nice rich and loose humus.
So, starting from a small field of potatoes, the Lakshmi Gardens have gradually grown into a lush area, containing currently 4000 sq. metres of vegetables and 2000 sq. metres of flowers. The team, consisting of six permanent resident helpers, is regularly supported by international seva helpers, who come to the ashram to explore the reward of loving devotional service. Today, the Lakshmi Gardens display a colourful variety of vegetables and flowers throughout the seasons. The abundance of the Divine Mother shows its diversity in the different parts of the Gardens, offering picturesque places for recreation, meditation, and social activities. In addition, it has become a biotope for plants and animals. Such is the work of the Guru, that after many years of gardening and personal care, the seeds of His Love sprout and transform the mindset of his devotees towards Self-Realisation and devotion.
Impressed by our abundance, guests regularly ask for seeds and plants to take home. In addition, we have recently begun to sell Lakshmi Garden-produce during ashram events, accompanied by ready-made flower garlands for your temple offerings.
We invite you to be a part of this exciting development! Be among the many guests enjoying the Lakshmi Gardens at Shree Peetha Nilaya. Take a stroll in the different parts of the garden, observe nature and enjoy an amazing view over the valley. Don't miss the evening experience too, when our garden is softly lit and it glows against the dark night sky.
See you soon!