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Farming is one of the main themes of our educational programme. This is so because we think that our educational programme should address the needs of the surrounding area. About 100 adivasi children stay here and are growing up with organic farming. They learn by working on the farm and eating its fruits.

farm Adharshila's farm has never been treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and students and faculty members are trying to improve the soil by applying tested techniques of organic farming under the guidance of experts in the field. This has yielded some results. In 2006, Adharshila reaped about 500 kg. of vegetables and didn’t have to buy any for at least 4 months. In 2009, the organic farm produced about 12 quintals of vegetables and pulses thanks to the tireless efforts of Dewika Behen, Jayashree, Badri bhai and almost all children who participated in all activities starting from ploughing to cooking. The soil is becoming better with more and more mulch being heaped in it. This a major task bringing dry leaves from the forest, road side or wherever.

The cow produced a she calf. Thanks to her the children got more than 700 liters of milk.

Our target is to make this hostel for 100 students self sufficient in veggies, pulses, and fuelwood. We have about five acres of farm land to work on. Friends keep coming to help us out and guide us.

We are looking for more volunteers to come and stay with us and help us in farming. Any takers?

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An Appeal for Organic Farmers

Aazadi of a different kind...

Flag hoisting on a barren piece of land on 15th August

Part I

In the Kaveri group everybody is laughing at Mangala’s drawing of the flag. Why are you laughing?

A woman is unfurling the flag in Divya’s drawing! They exclaimed and started laughing again.

So what? Why do you think a woman cannot do the flag hoisting?

This set the teacher thinking and it was decided that this year the flag hoisting would be done by a woman.

So it was that Sumli Bai, an activist of the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan hoisted the flag this year and told the children about the various freedom fighters and adivasi leaders who laid their lives fighting for justice for their people.

Part II

Hey, where are we? Why are we in this field rather than being near the school building ? And what’s this ? No flowers or decoration around the flag ? Five six types of leaves are placed at the base. Something in a bucket nearby is stinking.

It has started to drizzle and no shelter around. Mukesh Bhai is talking about the problems of farmers and the crises of agriculture in general. The children are getting restless and Mukesh Bhai cuts short his speech. The children run for shelter. Many elders also follow suite.

But a small band remains in the rain. The teachers and elder students of Adharshila are there. So are some villagers and parents of children staying with us in Adharshila. They are digging the field and putting hemp plants in the shallow pits and covering it with soil. The hemp was grown on the field and cut just before flowering. Cow urine and pesticide created from various leaves are sprayed on the plot where the hemp is buried. It is a small ceremony. Every body is drenched in the rain. Someone breaks a coconut and says – today we are starting a new experiment in organic farming to save farmers from the clutches of money lenders and companies and also to provide food security to the poor. Children are shouting slogans:

Desi beej rakhna hai kisan ko bachaana hai! Jaivik Kheti karna hai, Gulami se bachana hai!

We have to protect traditional seeds, and save the farmer!
We have to do organic farming and free ourselves from bondage!

The rain is there to bless us. If you believe in omens it’s a good start.

It is a beautiful sight. The flag furling with all its glory amidst a dark sky and green fields all around. People drenched in the rain. Digging the field and shouting slogans. There is a romance about the whole scene.

A small but significant event. If we pursue what we have started then this 15th August will become a historic date.

Part III

After the children’s performances and sweets we got to serious talk with the parents - all farmers. The mood had been set by the ceremony. There were long sermons on the ills of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides by all the parents inspite of the fact that all of them use these chemicals and are heavily into market propoganda. Jayashree explained the main themes of organic farming. Most of the farmers were able to grasp this because they have seen chemical free farming themselves. Some of them still practice it in parts. She also told them some examples of Maharashtra where some farmers have taken yeilds to the tune of 3 tonnes in one acre. Or about 20 quintals jowar and toovar in one acre. Most people didn’t believe this. We said that we don’t believe this but want to try it on our land.

Six other farmers and parents of children studying here volunteered to try this experiment on ½ of ¼ acre land. A small start.. …

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Adharshila students have a deep interest in conserving resources and restoring the land. This past year, a number of students worked with volunteers from AARTI to make energy-efficient smokeless choolahs in the kitchen.

Check out the report of the Earth Summit that Adharshila students had a few years ago!

planting

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© 2006 This page is maintained by Shilpa Kamat for Adharshila.