Location: Assam, India
About: Tenzing’s tea farms are havens of biodiversity, including endangered Asian elephants moving back and forth with the seasons across the international border between India and the Kingdom of Bhutan. Elephants use the tea gardens as corridors between the forested Bhutan hills, patches of native forests and grasslands on the India side, and water sources. With no fencing or drainage ditches to block their movement, the elephants can move freely, even in large herds. No man-made chemicals are used on the land, and the water and vegetation pose no health risks to elephants. Even the tea farm workers are encouraged to allow elephants to move through the plantation undisturbed, which helps reduce human-elephant conflicts.
Tenzing grows all of his tea organically, interplanting the tea shrubs with a wide diversity of tree and shrub species that attract and provide food and shelter for a multitude of native birds, amphibians, reptiles, spiders, and insects. Maintaining the natural ecological balance of the Himalayan foothills region is important to Tenzing, and there is a great benefit to this approach for pest management, according to Tenzing. On Tenzing’s property insect pests are controlled naturally by predator species. For example, a number of bird and spider species feed on tea pests such as the tea mosquito. Tenzing’s tea plants show little sign of insect pests, but a visit to neighboring tea plantations reveals a different story, with tea growers suffering notable tea production losses from pests, both in conventional and organic tea plantations.