Nestled in the stillness of the quaint village of Tenneru, 24 km’s from Vijayawada in the lush tranquil greens is the peaceful farmhouse of the Devinenis’- Jayasree and Madhusudan Rao! “It is not a farmhouse in the fashionable sense of the word,” clears, Madhusudan, humbly. “This is a rustic farm with a simple one-storey house in it and we practice organic farming.
Madhusudan was born in the village but later shifted to the city to study and work, whereas Jayasree was the city-bred girl from Hyderabad. Disillusioned with his job, he quit and started Hi-Tech Print Systems in Gannavaram. With the zeal and vision to develop the village, he set up home in the village. Airing his views on the subject he says, “Open space, clean air and a better quality of life are some of the reasons why I have moved away from an increasingly choked city life and I wanted a big house with a garden, which isn’t possible in the city,” says Madhusudan. “Everyone should retire and move to the villages to make way for the young in the city.”
“The symphony of birds first thing in the morning, the fresh clean air, cool grass sashaying over my ankles, the wide open spaces and the harmony, awaken my senses,” says Jayasree who has come to love her life now. “Madhu was very clear that he didn’t want to live in Hyderabad after he retired,” recalls Jayasree. “Moving from city life to a village was very alien to me and it took a lot of mental preparation. Once I made up my mind, it became easier for me to settle down. Concerns like reaching a hospital, meeting friends, shopping, lack of stimulation and all have now become redundant. Coming across many interesting and accomplished people, has enriched their lives.”
The couple echoes the same thoughts, “Taking care of Nature is not just ethical; it is quintessential. Ours is a humble attempt at synthesizing exigent needs of humanity- Eco-living, Waste Recycling, Alternative Energies, Green Building technologies etc, thus saving energy and leaving less carbon footprints and just living in oneness with nature.” Villages did not have power during the day till last year and there were power cuts during the night too, thus they went for a small 10 kw solar plant to meet their power needs.
They grow most of their food and vouch for its freshness and what can be more luxurious than breathing the crisp green air and eating organic food grown on the farm. Simple cuisine prepared with fresh vegetables and herbs gives exotic flavors. Putting it ingeniously, Jayasree says, “People think what to cook, we think, what do we have. We share the surplus with friends and the joy of growing and sharing is incomparable! “
Built on 1.6 acres, their horseshoe-shaped home lets in sunlight into every room and every window in the house looks out onto lush green vegetation. Both are voracious readers and have a vast collection of books in their library. If Madhusudan likes a particular book, he buys several copies and shares with his friends. He distributes articles on health and organic products. To inculcate the habit of book reading, he has distributed almost 100,000 books to schoolchildren in the village.
They have 300 varieties of plants of which hundred are medicinal, that can be used for major medical ailments in Ayurveda. Plants like Brahmi, Bhringraj, Bilimbi Citrus, are all grown and used for cooking. Except for peak summer, they have an abundance of green vegetables, roots like yam, potato, pendulum, carrot, radish, and brinjal, okra, snake gourd, bitter gourd, ridged gourd, different varieties of chilies, and many more growing organically. Fruit trees like sweet lime, mangoes, papaya, banana, custard apples intersperse the flowering ones. The soil is enriched with organic compost (made by them) and herbs like Basil, Citronella, and Lemon Grass are intermingled in such a way that they fight pests naturally. Six robust cows fulfill their dairy needs.
Presently they are growing 200,000 herbal plants, on order from the Government Ayurvedic College. Botany students visit their farm as part of their tours. They provide books, study materials and teach learning techniques to the teachers and personally guide the students of the two government schools in the village. Jayasree is passionate about women empowerment and guides young girls towards a career rather than matrimony at a young age. She says, “Guiding students and seeing them grow, is giving us so much pleasure. This kind of life is beyond doubt, keeping us healthy both physically and mentally.”
They are an exemplary Go-Green couple who feel that any little action they take to sustainable living it makes a positive impact on the environment. If everyone could implement small changes into their current lifestyle they could make a difference for the Earth and future generations