Pondy farmers bring sustainable agriculture to rural Tamil Nadu
Members of the Puducherry-based farming community Solitude, have now taken up the collective responsibility of bringing sustainable farming, or more specifically, permaculture, to villages across Tamil Nadu, by imparting their wisdom to rural women.
Permaculture is a method of agriculture that focusses on working with, rather than against nature. As part of their ‘People Food Music’ initiative, that aims to take this eco-conscious method of agriculture to the people, these new-age farmers have joined forces with rural women across the state, imparting their wisdom of sustainable agriculture to them.
Krishna McKenzie, a British national and the founder of the Solitude Farm in Auroville started his farming community about two decades ago. His project is now recognised as a successful model of permaculture in South India. Krishna says, “During our visits to villages across the state, women often ask us, what they can feed their families, with the ever increasing prices of food grains and produce. For the past two months, we have been working with women’s groups from villages in Tamil Nadu, introducing them to the practise of permaculture and the importance of local food. We tell them about simple farming methods like circle gardens that can be easily replicated at home. At our cooking workshops, they are able to recognise the value of their own traditionally-grown and cooked foods. We culminate these workshops with some great music from our band Emergence.”
The community is also intent on helping these women discover indigenous solutions to complex health problems. Krishna explains “Epidemics such as diabetes and high blood pressure are on the rise. At our workshops, we encourage rural women to prepare traditional foods that are high in nutrition, but are safe in an ecological context.” Krishna, whose team is crowdfunding this movement on the platform Indiegogo, adds, “A majority of the problems that we face today is be cause of man losing his relationship with nature. And nature is where his food comes from. Both in India and abroad, we find that the prevalent agricultural system is centred on chemically-dependent industrial farming, which is more focused on profits rather than nutrition., I founded Solitude, on the principles of permaculture and natural farming. Our motto is to grow Local Food using crops that are nutritious, accessible, free of chemicals and free of food miles (distance involved in transporting food from the source to the consumer). As a mission, we reconnect people to where their food comes from.”
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