Build Naturally at The Forest Farm - Swadesee
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Swadesee / Build Naturally at The Forest Farm

Build Naturally at The Forest Farm


Feel the soil and build with your hands at The Forest Farm, an eco-paradise tucked deep into the Sahyadris. Understand vernacular architecture and engage with natural materials sourced locally from in and around the farm.

Location: The Forest Farm, Lonavala
Dates: 8-9th February, 2020


A passionate couple from Mumbai, Devyani and Viral Gandhi, are developing their ancestral land in complete harmony with nature, where none of the wild trees have been cut on the property for landscaping or building. Even while making international standard washroom facilities, trees have been used as part of the structure!

We will learn how to build a sustainable eco-structure by using ethically sourced materials including stones, bamboo, kharvi and mud. We will be guided by Arshi Shaikh, an architect passionate about natural building and sustainable development. She has been a part of research and design development for ecological housing projects in Auroville. 

We will explore traditional methods of construction and understand the impact of materials in our structures as we source and use them to build with our hands.

We will get a glimpse of the local life in the nearby village, hear folk tales and wilderness philosophies in the forest, all the while camping out under a blanket of star-lit sky with bonfires for warmth in the winter chill.

Schedule :

Day 1 : 8th February

We will arrive at the farm via privately booked transport from Lonavala station at 8 am, after which we will relax and feast on delicious home-cooked breakfast. We will walk through the farm and discover the trees and shrubs that grow on the farm. We will dig our hands in soil to build farm structures using local wood and mud from the farm. We will feast on a tasty meal and continue working hands-on till 3 pm. We will relax and spend the evening interacting with the locals in a nearby village, and watch the sunset by the river.

We will end our day with a delicious dinner and star-gazing around a campfire.

Day 2 : 9th February

We will start the day early with a walk in the forest to watch the sunrise by a beautiful lake. We will return to the farm and work hands-on to complete our structure. We will celebrate our work with our last meal at the farm, bid goodbyes, thank our hosts, and head back home with a lot of learning and memories!

For queries contact: Arshi – 8082659077

Inclusions : 

  • Transport from Lonavala station to the farm and back
  • Interactive building workshop using locally sourced natural materials
  • Guided walks around the farm, the village and the forest
  • Homemade meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner on day 1 and breakfast and lunch on day 2
  • Comfortable tents for overnight stay – with pillows, mattresses and blankets


  • Transport from Mumbai to Lonavala
  • Anything not mentioned in inclusions

How to get to Lonavala:

  1. By train (lowest carbon footprint): Take the 5.40 am Indrayani express leaving from CST and stopping at Dadar and Thane. It will arrive at Lonavala exactly at 8 am. You can return via the Deccan express which stops at Lonavala at 4.30 pm. From Pune, there are regular local trains that you can take. Please book your ticket in advance via IRCTC.
  2. By bus (medium carbon footprint): There are regular Shivneri buses that run from Mumbai and Pune to Lonavala. Tickets can be booked on the spot, but we recommend buying them online a few days prior as there will be a lot of demand.
  3. By car (high carbon footprint): Around 85 km from Mumbai (BKC) via the Mumbai-Pune highway. Total time taken to reach is approximately 2 hours in the morning. You can meet us a at Lonavala station at 8 am then follow our team to the farm.


Is in good quality, water proof and well insulated tents. The tents are plugged on plinths made specially for the purpose. The area around the tents is clear of any vegetation for safety.
Every tent has comfortable bedding, soft pillows and warm blankets. You can adjust the roof of the tent for an open sky view. Enjoy the treat of sleeping under the stars while you snuggle inside.

You can share a tent with your group or if you are a solo traveller, we will put you up in a tent with someone from the same gender.

Sanitation :

Five spacious wood paneled toilets cum bathrooms are available. Four WC + one Indian toilet with jets, toilet paper, washbasins and dustbins in each loo. Hot water can be provided on request. The washrooms are clean, ventilated and hygienic at all times.

To carry : 

  • Comfortable clothes and footwear for working hands-on 
  • Hand torches
  • Power bank
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses for working
  • Cap or hat
  • One bottle of drinking water – please avoid single use plastic and bring reusable bottles
  • Personal toiletries and medications, if any
  • Camera – optional
  • Curiosity and energy – compulsory!

Alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited. Instead of loud speakers, feel free to bring a guitar or any musical instruments to play at night.