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Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture thriving in greenhouses in Maharishi Vedic City and Fairfield, Iowa, USA - Part I
by Global Good News staff writer
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7 May 2008
Speaking recently on Maharishi Global Family Chat, Raja Robert Wynne, Mayor of Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, USA, and Raja of New Zealand and other countries for the Global Country of World Peace, answered questions about Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture—the greenhouses and field crops—in Maharishi Vedic City and Fairfield, Iowa.
First Raja Wynne spoke about the two-acre (.8 hectare) greenhouse in Maharishi Vedic City and the one-acre greenhouse on the campus of Maharishi University of Management. 'These acres are all under one very high roof with walls that are 12 or 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 metres) high. The roof opens if the temperature gets too hot or the humidity too high; it's all automated,' Raja Wynne said.
Raja Wynne reported that the first 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of cucumbers have just been picked and shipped or will be sold locally. Already basil is also being picked, and within ten days there will be peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Raja Wynne explained that just a few nights ago there was frost, so the crops cannot be planted outside in this climate until about the middle of May. 'So we have a head start and we drove one of our vans to Chicago to sell to one of the large organic stores that has 16 different branches.'
Raja Wynne also explained that by planting in a smaller, 3,000 square foot (278 square metre) greenhouse—the bigger greenhouse is 100,000 square feet (approximately .9 hectare)—the planting is flat so there are maybe 200 cucumber plants and tomato plants. These are planted in February and put into the ground towards the end of March. 'They're already a few inches (about 7-12 centimetres) high when they're planted, and then they grow very fast once they're in the ground. We don't have to use heat at this time of year because the solar heating comes in due to the nature of the greenhouse, it is all glass or plastic,' said Raja Wynne.
Raja Wynne said that they have been in operation now for five years, and the first four years they grew all through the winter. In the winter there are different types of crops that don't mind the cold, such as lettuce, bok choy, broccoli, and kale. 'But the cost of heating is going up, so this year we decided to rest the greenhouse for two months and put in a cover crop to add more nutrition to it,' he said.
Raja Wynne said they are starting the spring crop when they normally do, so the full two acres are planted, and it will go through the beginning of December. 'We have six months when we're producing, and during those six months, we're expecting 160,000 pounds (72.5 metric tonnes) of vegetables to be produced in that two-acre greenhouse,' Raja Wynne said.
Since there are many fields in which field crops are not grown because they're on a hill and tilling would erode the soil, Raja Wynne said they are looking into growing straw for straw bale furnaces that will heat the greenhouses all winter long.
Raja Wynne explained that some crops are profitable in processing, for example sunflower oil, for which the sunflowers are grown in the fields and then cold pressed for organic sunflower oil, which will all be consumed in this community.
At the greenhouse there are also 120 acres (48.5 hectares) of fields, of which a couple of acres are strawberries that were planted last year, and will come up this year. 'So we'll invite the community to come for picking their own strawberries.' Also organic soya beans will be grown in a lot of fields.
When asked if he would recommend greenhouses to other projects of the Global Country of World Peace in different countries, Raja Wynne responded that in the first few years they were learning, and in agriculture there are always different issues that occur—which, inside the greenhouse, does not usually involve weather, but rather things like the water supply, the quality of the water, and the quality of the soil, for example. Now the greenhouse is becoming increasingly financially self-sustaining.
Raja Wynne recommended this kind of agriculture 'because it can be a huge source of fresh organic food for a community, picked when ripe when the nutrition is maximum, and then the additional food that's not being consumed locally can be sold.'
Raja Wynne added that this year the greenhouse will grow crops for the 600 Vedic Pandits now in Maharishi Vedic City. 'We'll be able to supply 100 per cent of the needs of the Vedic Pandits, and still be offering our products all around Iowa and even into Illinois. Since last year we have 75 different customers.'
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