J. E. Farm (short for Jambe Environment Farm and earlier known as Broome farm) is located on the outskirts of Pune city, near Hinjewadi. Leela and Ashok Gour Broome shifted to Pune from Tea Estates India Pvt Ltd, Tamil Nadu in 1978, where Ashok was an Estate Manager. Convinced that they did not want a city life for themselves and their young children, who had thus far grown up in the lap of wilderness, they bought this piece of farm land in 1979. Their intention was to start a dairy farm specialising in dairy products, including cheese.
The land had 2 wells, neither was perennial, and the surroundings were barren. One could see views up to the Marunji Hilltop from the farm. There were approximately thirty old and some diseased mango trees - ‘gaoran’ – excellent for pickles and juice; and the farm had been popularly called Amrai by the locals. Unfortunately, rampant cutting of wood, selling of top soil and thievery of jamun and mango was standard practice. They were able to control much of this only once they built the farmhouse, and an agave boundary which was planted literally by hand, by Ashok.
Over the years they built up their new home using local expertise, locally available material and their own skills and knowledge. The near barren stretch of land was slowly reforested and cultivated.
By 1983 the Broome family realized that income could not come in just from the cheese making and dairy produce; but bringing their young children and their friends here for their birthday parties showed them the way. It had to be nature and environment camps which could help sustain them if they had to live on the farm permanently.
Today, many of the trees they had planted so many years ago produce fruit and the farm is a lush green wonderland, providing home to a huge diversity of birds, small mammals, insects, frogs and reptiles. From its inception the farm has been utilized for a number of environmentally conscious activities including nature and environment camps for children; the camps, popular by the name of ‘Nature Trails’ were conducted between the years 1990 and 2006. Thousands of young students who were part of these camps continue to be in touch with the Broomes even today. Many of these campers later chose environment studies or nature and environment based careers, much to the satisfaction of the Broomes.
Once camps closed, the dormitories used by the campers were converted into warm and cozy farm cottages to rent to families looking for getaways from hectic city life. J.E. Farm as they have always called it remains a vibrant place with a number of activities with which the family is now involved.
You can read more about stories of nature, from the tea estate days in the south, in the books that Leela Gour Broome has written.