Thosamling plans to construct eight two-meter high stupas along the entrance pathway. Each stupa will commemorate a significant event in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha.
We are happy to report we have raised the funds needed to build the stupas. We have been waiting to start with the building of the stupas as there are rumors that soon they will start with building a road to Thosamling. If this is the case, we like to wait until the road is ready as then we will be able to get a water drilling truck into our private road. We are not connected with any waterpipe from the village as this is complicated but we get our water from the mountain stream nearby. We have high quality water filters that help us to get good drinking water.
If we start now with creating 8 stupas, the chance is high that we will not be able to bring the water drilling truck inside our boundaries. So we still want to wait. If there is a possibility to start building without waiting for a road to come, we will start off with the project. But we need more expertise.
Wood-fired Heater Oven
With the kind help of some friends of Thosamling, a wonderful high quality wood-fired heater oven was built in the dining hall of Thosamling just in time for winter 2014.
A team of six men and women spent two weeks with us building the German heater oven with bricks, mud, sand and cement. Appropriately, they started to build at the beginning of the Durga festival and by the end of the festival it was ready to be lit for the first time – exactly at the moment when fires throughout India marked the end of the Durga festival! And to add to this rare coincidence, all the bricks we used turned out to be DURGA bricks!
Anna and Norbert, the two main building experts, worked extremely hard along with their team to finish the project on time. Now our dining hall has a wonderful heater oven that includes a heated bench as well. In the cold winter months we have a lovely warm place where we can all hang out and study in the evenings.
If you would like to know more about this heater oven please contact us at [email protected].
Our Organic Garden
Thosamling’s fruit and vegetable garden is 100% organic. We make good use of all of our fruits, including oranges, apples, guavas, peaches, litchi, strawberries, gooseberries, loquat (Japanese plum), lemons, bananas, local figs, mangos, papayas, blackberries, raspberries, small plums, kiwi, and grapes. From delicious jams and tarts to offerings for pujas and community events, we are quite fruit-full year round!
It is always a struggle to find out what will grow well in which season, but after a few years the organic garden is highly successful. Vegetables like brussels sprouts, snow peas, fennel, endive, radish, celery, little gherkins and various types of lettuce were experiments that worked very well. Skilled volunteers assist us with their know-how, and have trained our staff and established an organic seed-bank.
Today, Thosamling sources about 30% of its daily fruit and vegetable needs for residents and bakery directly from its own organic garden.
Organic Gardens at Thosamling: Feeding Our Community is a Labor of Love
There are several gardens here at the nunnery, that are in various stages of cultivation, planting, and building. We are primarily using permaculture to attempt to get the most out of soil and moisture retention during a prolonged Drought that has settled in. The growing season is relatively short here in Sidhpur, from about March to the end of June, depending on when the monsoon season starts, this means about 3.5 to 4 months of growing.
This winter was much milder than usual and spring came in early which had a bit of an adverse effect on our crops. We grow a variety: beans, peas, chard, kale, endive, lettuce, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These plants are all coldweather lovers, meaning if the air and ground temperature stay pretty cool, it is fine by them. However, once the warm weather really sets in, these conditions push the plants to start ripening early or prematurely. This is not good news for the gardeners! We harvested and consumed most of our garden before the heat of May arrived, 102°F, or 39°C has been the average daily temperature over the past weeks. And yes, it is or can be, as brutal as it sounds to work in the garden, weeding, digging canals, pruning trees, building fences and harvesting in this kind of heat.
We also grow strawberries, herbs, such as dill, and fields of onions. Later this summer we hope to have raspberries. Venerable Sangmo has a vision to help make the nunnery as completely self sufficient in its food production as possible, but these conditions are making it very challenging. We had an underproduction of all of our crops this year. There was also a bit of a nasty rodent who ate through one strawberry patch, just sampling each berry Leaving behind a long row of teeth marks!
Nevertheless, Sangmo is relentless in her determination to help the nunnery grow as much of its own food as possible. With the help from two wonderful French volunteers Vivian and Pierre who came to Thosamling through WILLING WORKERS ON ORGANIC FARMS (WOOF), there are several new permaculture beds, “strawberry ling” and other wonderful flower beds that have been established. Before monsoon sets in, we will plant basil, pumpkins, squash and rhubarb.
This season we saved over 400 pea and bean seeds for use next year and are currently harvesting dill seeds, trying to rescue the seeds from the caterpillars who love to feast on dill! We are planning a new kitchen herb garden right outside the dining hall, which is much more convenient for the cooks rather than walking all the way down to the gardens, where the herbs currently grow. This season there are many volunteers working in Thosamling’s gardens to make them thrive.
A big heartfelt thank you for all the services you provide here.
ORGANIC GARDEN PROJECT
We have several gardens in Thosamling that are in various stages of cultivation, planting and building. We are completely organic and follow the natural way of gardening.
We grow a big variety of fruit trees, all different types of vegetables, Indian and Western and make our own compost. Take cuttings from our trees and let them grow in other areas or just give them to locals to plant them in their gardens.
We are almost self supporting and share are knowledge with everybody who wants to learn how to create your own garden. This can be in a real garden but also on your roof or balcony. More people are interested to become self supporting and wants to look into the possibilities that are there to make vertical gardens at your wall for example. Gardening is an activity that brings you closer to nature and calms the mind on the same time. We bake our own breads and make organic jams from our fruits.
We started to organize courses for everybody who wants to learn about the possibilities to make a real garden on a very tiny spot like your balcony. Everything is possible. On the roofs of Thosamling we have 4 different salad beds which can be moved all over the roof, and a strawberry plantage, combined with tomatoes. These courses opens the possibilities for people to start a different life if they have seen and experienced the garden in Thosamling. We try to share our experiences with the locals to show them that pesticides and other chemicals are absolutely not needed to get good crops.
In September we will start with a new round of courses for all who are interested in getting a taste of the natural way of gardening. We need to be closer to nature and have to understand that we have to adjust to mother earth and not the other way around.
Welding – Learning a New Skill at Thosamling Nunnery
Recently as the kitchen at Thosamling underwent a major reorganization, it became evident that for safety purposes the large gas canisters used to fire the gas stove and oven that are housed in the kitchen under the cabinets should be shifted outdoors behind the kitchen.
In order to safely store them and run the connections into the kitchen, it was decided that a large metal storage area was needed to house the gas tanks. When Sangmo, the abbess, and Fred our handy man looked into the costs involved in constructing this, the bill would be 18,000 INR. There are also numerous other projects around the nunnery that require welding, such as wood storage unites, hay storage units, gardening structures, benches and a prayerwheel stand inside the front gate.
Also totaled these would run well over 150,000 INR to pay someone else to construct. Fred recalled he had learned basic welding in his earlier years, and decided to look into purchasing a welding machine and hiring a local welder to come to Thosamling to teach how to use the machine and learn some basic techniques properly. For a cost of 50,000 INR we decided to invest in a welding machine and iron and to do the labor ourselves.
Construction began immediately to construct the outdoor gas canister storage unit as well as the hay storage unit. Sangmo and Fred were the first to learn to use the welding machine, and now we are able to save the costs of paying for a long list of future projects, which will in the long run save the nunnery over 100,000 INR. This is yet another example of our attempt to be as self sufficient and conservative of our precious financial resources as possible. Thank you to everyone who generously supports Thosamling and be reassured we value your investment and use it wisely.
Thosamling supports animal welfare organizations in McLeod-Ganj, Dharamsala and local villages. Unfortunately rabies is still quite a common disease in India. On yearly base 20,000 people in India die of rabies, so vaccination and de-sexing programs are a major part of the work here. This keeps animals healthier and prevents the dog population from increasing.
In the past Thosamling organized a de-sexing program with help of Vet Beyond Borders and we will continue to support these programs. It is so fortunate that skilled workers and professional veterinarians are working with in our communities.
Tibet Charity Animal Care Program and Dharamsala Animal Rescue both treat stray dogs and other animals. In the interest of reducing the suffering of our little four-legged friends and to protect the locals from harm, Thosamling’s community
donates medicines to this organization. Find out more about them here:
Zero Waste and Environmental protection.
Our neighbouring communities of Sidhpur and Norbulingka as well as Himachal Pradesh in general, face a garbage problem. Rubbish is indiscriminately thrown onto vacant and, and into waterways. In order not to add to this problem, Thosamling developed a Zero waste project, in which we reuse or recycle 100% of our waste. Organic waste and paper are used for compost and cow-food; glass, metal and plastic bottles are reused or become a source of income for local people; soft plastic becomes cushion stuffing; harder plastic is made into fly-curtains and bags; tetrapack’s make wallets or get reused in the garden to grow are little seeds in.
Thosamling’s Zero Waste Project.
One of our main aims is to be eco-friendly and reduce to minimum the amount of waste we produce.
We have involved the local community in the project by doing workshops at local schools to raise awareness to pollution and plastic waste issues.
We recruited local women to make our zero waste products. In the upcycling proccess the soft plastics are recycled into various hand made products :
Soft plastic is washed, dried and cut – the strips used as filling for our meditation cushions
More durable plastic is used for different items such as:
– Medicine bags
– Document file/passport holder
All products are hand made by local women – who were recruited to the project as a way to empower, inform and support the women and the community by creating jobs and raising awareness to plastic pollution. We have cleaning days organized with the local children to clean out the rivers and show them what can be made of all these garbage items.