20 Jun 2014

Krishna Farm

From Country Life, 9:29 pm on 20 June 2014

BalaamKrishna Farm is a fertile 12 hectare property located in the Motueka Valley near Nelson that provides a satisfying means of livelihood for those working on the farm, who are also wanting to become more spiritually conscious.

Hare Krishna devotee Balaram Routledge (pictured above) manages a small herd of milking cows and an organic vegetable growing operation and he’s finding a healthy demand for this year’s harvest. As well as being sold in farmers markets from their Hare Krishna van, the produce also goes to shops and supermarkets in the Nelson area, while high volume crops such as potatoes and corn go to Fresh Direct, a large vegetable wholesaler who have an organic section.

Balaram joined the Hare Krishna movement 10 years ago after becoming disenchanted with his life and within a year he went from being an atheist to a devotee who believed in reincarnation. He moved onto the farm with his family after the February 2011 Earthquake in Christchurch damaged the Hare Krishna temple and buildings on Bealey Avenue (they have since been demolished). Back then he knew little about farming so it’s been a huge leaning curve. “The idea of growing food on such a scale that you could create a business for, was something than none of us had any experience with of, we really had no idea when we started!”

Along the way Krishna Farm has received lots of support and advice from local farmers and the goal of using the land to support themselves has been achieved. According to Balaram, this is what the founding spiritual master of the Hare Krishna movement, Swami Prabhupada would have wanted.  “He encouraged the majority of the Hare Krishna devotees to live in these rural communities so that we could live our lives according to the traditional Vedic system of farming the land, keeping cows, growing our own food and in this way we can live a lifestyle which is conducive for the practice of spiritual life”.

Prabhupada, who died in 1977, was a Hindu religious teacher who at the age of 69 went to the United States where he taught the practice of devotion to Krishna and founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. From there the movement blossomed and in the following 11 years he went around the world 14 times in order to inspire people from all walks of life to take to Krishna Consciousness.