The research started with a letter from the producer. The letter, broadly introduced the project and its scope. After preliminary discussions in Brusssels, the researcher visited the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam which is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world. Today, it is a green oasis in the middle of a bustling urban setting. Thereafter, the process was more random, as the researcher plunged himself into the complexity of the subject at hand, its relationships and its stories, with the hope that patterns would start emerging as the journey proceeded. A series of questions were shortlisted for discussions with the inhabitants of New Delhi. These discussions contributed in establishing the complexity of the problem. In New Delhi, special attention was given to the urban kitchen gardens and Chandani Chowk, which has continued to remain one of the most dense and thriving parts of Asia since the 15th century. Here, on-field studies by Sonal Malhotra, a local designer also informed the project. Visits to Sarai(Centre for Development Studies) to document ongoing research projects related to ecology along with interaction with artists at Khoj formed the second layer of the study. Interaction with the Biodiversity department of Tata Energy Research Institute, Centre for Science and Environment and Indian Council of Agricultural Research were important. This stage informed the research with as many diverse inputs as possible. Thereafter, the research focus moved to south India with the first site visit to Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, a place dedicated to conservation and preservation of native plants. Next was Beulah organic farm, which specialises in organic produce, home made marmalade and wines. Located in rural Tamil Nadu, it demonstrates customised solutions for organic plant growth right from the use of liquid organic manure to playing music to increase crop productivity. Following this was a visit to the Rain forest retreat, one of the few places which uses a well informed business model to address its concern for ecology. Next was the Krac-A-Dawna bio dynamic farm located in rural Karnataka close to Mysore. The farm produces a range of finished products from wild honey and cinnamon to sesame butter and cotton fabrics. Details of these visits have been discussed in the section, site_visit_and_survey_notes. The analysis of these enterprises in India was backed up by on-line and literature surveys about permaculture, traditional agricultural methods and organic farming. Apart from this, the permaculture design course by Bill Mollison and two books, 'An Agricultural Testament' by Sir Albert Howard and 'Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustanability' by David Holmgren have been indispensable to this study. The research has since proceeded through follow up exchanges with other members of FoAM: Evelina Kusaite, Cocky Eek, Theun Karelse, Steven Pickles and Nik Gaffney and concluded at the GroWorld design session in Brussels on 15th April 2008. The findings of the research were also presented at the Media Ecologies workshop at St. Erme in France.
The methodology was crucial to help the design researcher develop empathy for the cause and also become aware of the complexity of the problem at hand. It has created a framework to work with, gradually laying emphasis on the integrated and interconnected nature of farming. Site visits in urban and rural parts of India brought out the role of traditional Indian farming techniques and further helped the researcher appreciate the nuances and demands of the project. Reading the book, ‘An Agricultural Testament’ by Sir Albert Howard brought out the difference in the agriculture methods between the industrialized and non-industrialized regions. Ths second book,'Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustanability' by David Holmgren, gives crucial insights into the holistic nature of this idea and how it could positively impact sustainability efforts globally. All of this has helped to create the right references for this project, raise numerous questions and enabled the researcher to present a detailed project report to the producer.