Adara holistic farmstay – to empower the local community

Adara holistic farmstay by Lieke Hulshof (The Netherlands) and Karan Juyal (Pauri, Uttarakhand)

Four years ago, Lieke (31, The Netherlands) met Karan (35) in a homestay near Mussoorie. That is where it all started. “After a course in eco-farming at Navdanya in Dehradun, Karan and I spent time together. Some weeks became some months, and then some years. We lived in Mussoorie and in Goa, where Karan was a musician and I painted art. Now I am stuck in India,” Lieke laughs.

Karan Juyal and Lieke Hulshof are running a holistic farmstay in Pauri (Uttarakhand) to empower the local community.

In the mountains of Uttarakhand, between pine trees, terraces and traditional villages, lies Pauri. Karan grew up here – in a colonial house owned by his family. After many years he has returned back to Pauri to start Adara Farmstay. “The building was quite neglected when we came here two years ago. It needed some care,” says Karan. Karan’s family was no longer living in the house, as everyone moved to the city. But Karan and Lieke saw the potential it had for their dream. “We joined forces for this shared dream. We wanted to live more basic and authentic. At the same time, we wanted to do something good for community,” says Lieke.

Adara Farmstay is an inspiration centre for abundant and simple life. As the name says, it has a homestay and a farm. An important aspect is the relationship with the community. Karan: “We focus on improving the position of local people, as we offer them places to work and learn. For example, some women earn through cooking and working for the homestay. We also give daily tuitions to children. They experience a wide range of activities like yoga, maths, art and English. The organic farm helps us to share food and farming experience with the people around us. Everyone gets exposed to new ideas and cultures. ”

Another important aspect is the organic farm. It brings us closer to our relationship with food and nature. Lieke: “We have a greenhouse that protects crops against monkeys. We are planning to make eco-friendly products like herbal soaps, honey and chutneys. They will be used for our homestay and for sale.” The farm is part of our bigger project for sustainable mountain development. We aim to design the farm for many purposes: agriculture, wildlife, biodiversity, playground, retreat, yoga, meditation.

Adara’s power lies in that it’s holistic. “We build a set of programs that complement each other: organic farming, rainwater harvesting, waste management, quality education, eco-tourism, solar energy and craftsmanship. All together, the farmstay becomes an example for local sustainable life.” In time the homestay and farm will support everything financially. Lieke: “We are now renovating the homestay. Through Workaway we receive volunteers from all over the world. They have helped us with painting, gardening, mud plaster, woodwork, video-editing, and so on. Soon we are soon ready to open the homestay for guests.”

The farmstay is a small cultural hub. “Some person likes chapati’s, another likes salads. We love this diversity, and we love to blend cultures to make a bigger one: a culture of embracing all people and traditions,” says Lieke. And so it is that Adara becomes a place of different cuisines, people and experiences. Karan: “This is how we can understand multiple ways of life, so that we can be open-minded and choose what fits ourselves and our environment best. For example: we like to have a compost pit, but we also see value in using cow-dung, which is a more local farming technique. So we use both.”

With a strong vision and sparkling new ideas, things are possible. Resources will flow to you, when your intentions are pure and you are eager to serve a greater good. That is what Karan and Lieke believe. They both quit their jobs some years ago, and work full-time on their project. “Life and work are no different to us,” says Karan. “We choose to live like this, and it does not feel like work. We get joy and fulfilment by creating the project we like to see in the world. It feels very good to create something that helps yourself and others grow. And we know that if we can do it, anyone with passion can do it, too.”

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