THEY are best known for their brightly-coloured robes and shaved heads, but now a group of Hare Krishna monks in Scotland are pioneering a new sustainable eco farm.
The project, called the Krishna Eco Farm, is based at an eight-acre farm in Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire, and includes wind turbines, air source heat pumps, solar thermal panels and a biomass boiler.
Sustainable resource experts have described it as one of the most exciting eco projects in the west of Scotland.
Prana Das, president of the Karuna Bhavan temple, which is part of the farm, said: "I always had a dream of living a self-sustained way of life. About three years ago we started looking into it and we had feasibility studies done to find out what would be best for us. I took over the service of managing the temple about four years ago.
"We're trying to be self- sufficient, but at the same time we're not isolated, we're part of the community."
The farm is home to a community of 40 Hare Krishna monks and residents. The site includes a walled garden where the monks grow vegetables and fruits, as well as greenhouses for cultivating ceremonial flowers, a small windfarm site and a play garden for children.
Although the Hare Krishna monks have been living within the local community since 1987, the new eco developments on the site only started three years ago, and the farm was officially opened by local MP Michael McCann yesterday. The site has received a loan of £100,000 for the two turbines, funded by Energy Saving Trust Scotland, and a Scottish Government Community and Renewable Energy Scheme grant of nearly £87,000.
The eco developments provide around 40% of the small community's energy requirements.
Mr Das added: "The technology can be used to reduce your carbon footprint, and that's part of our philosophy: to live simply and to just take what you need from society and not more than you need. Ideally, we would like to be completely off the grid in terms of our energy."