A lot of people interested in the Miyawaki forest ask me why creating it is so costly, and how the cost can be reduced. I honestly wish to help them because I understand the sincerity of the query. A 5- or 10-cent plot and a house in it are not easy to purchase and build. So, spending one-and-a-half lakhs out of one’s hard-earned money to put up a Miyawaki forest on a one-cent patch may be a tall order. It may not be worth the while.

Recently, a Gulf returnee told me he has a 5-cent plot but no money to spare for a Miyawaki forest. To such people, let me recommend a few solutions. The first is that if you contribute the labour component it will bring down the cost considerably. That is because labour in Kerala is very costly. If you work on your plot, you can save Rs 500 to Rs 800 a day. The second method is to source manure like cow dung from places close by so that you can transport it yourself. The third is to put up a Miyawaki forest in a small piece of land.

You may wish to create a forest in a one-cent area, that is, 435 sq. ft. or 43 sq. m. If you are cash-strapped, instead of using up the entire area, opt for a patch that is 5 m long and 1 m wide. That is, roughly a 50 sq. ft piece of land. It will require only 15 to 20 saplings. Like the stripes of shirt, or a fence, a long strip of your plot from one end to the other can be earmarked for the forest. Each must be one or two metres wide. Try to create as many strips as your collection of saplings permits. Maintain one metre distance between two strips. The plants will spread to this space. If not, you can use that area for planting later. Keep adding more strips as and when your finances improve. More plants and creepers will slowly grow into the vacant space and make it a forest. Three or four strips can be created in this manner. Other plants and creepers will slowly sprout there and make the forest thick.

But remember to put no less than 3 or 4 saplings within a one sq. metre area. Otherwise, a Miyawaki forest will not grow. Instead of long strips, you can choose to have different patterns, like the circle. Or, have small and separate patches. But maintain the required distance between them so that you are able to walk through those spaces. Watering the plants will be easier too. I have not experimented with very small strips myself but it is a workable model. Here, where I sit, you can see many strips of Miyawaki forest I made myself. They are 10 metres long and 2 metres wide. What you see are brief shots of those strips. Please try it out yourself.