1. Children’s School kitchen gardens – a part of our Eco-Club Drive
We have written about the Eco-clubs and posted some reports about the excellent work these children havedone, including the forest clearing project, where they cleared the forest of plastic bottles and made a poly house using them! The Eco-clubs have also been engaged in creating and maintaining kitchen gardens where they grow organic vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants. These kitchen gardens have been growing & strengthening under a regular monitoring & training programme in 10 government schools in the Nilgiris. Other schools unable to grow vegetables and herbs due to pests like wild boars, monkeys etc. are involved in environmental &social issues of their communities.
2. Childrens Home gardens with Herbs, vegetables, fruits & flowers
In Thenalai the children’s home gardens are also flourishing – there are now 25 gardens in the village making astrong impact on the farmers & other families. Some schools have been able to make an income from Vermi-composting school waste. This has provided funds for shoes & warm clothes.
3. Farmer’s kitchen gardens
After a series of training programmes, this is proving to be an encouraging start for farmers who want to grow organic vegetables in their fields. We are looking forward to great harvest in the coming months.
4. Community Health & Income
In our IGP programmes 15 village women in the last three months learned tailoring and knitting to increase theirincome.
The health team as a part of their most recent training programme has started 18 herbal kitchen gardens. At Kolikarai the 12 Village health women have started mobilizing women in the 50 villages under their care to set up herbal kitchen gardens and at Chengalpuddur, the tribal women have established a large communal garden for their traditional plants and herb.
In order to support their knowledge & skills 8 tribal women from 4 different tribal communities were taken to CIMH (Centre for Indigenous Medicinal Heritage) to learn technology of medicinal plants cultivation, post harvesttechnology, & Medicine preparation.
In Droog village the Kurumba tribes are celebrating ‘traditional food day’ on every new moon day. It is a day when these tribal communities go back to their traditional food from the forest, which is highly nutritious,.... Nutrition isone of the key issues which makes a huge difference for living with conditions of HIV, sickle cell anaemia & TB which are endemic in these communities.
So not only have they started making high nutrition powder which is a bit like horlicks to drink, but they are encouraging the women to celebrate their grandmother's cooking on full moon days. We are distributing the high nutrition drink widely.
It is very difficult to describe the impact that our work is making as the difference is qualitative more than quantitive. It is not so much making a difference to income as giving value to the rural communities for building strongercommunities & helping improve their quality of life in their own terms, not ours.
We have had a number of international groups & students from Ayurveda colleges.. One of them said “You cannot imagine the impact it makes on us to come here & listen to the knowledge of these people who we have all thought knew nothing. We begin to understand how much we have to learn from them” Lack of money in urban areascreates terrible poverty and anguish which is not easily reversible, but here where we have despoiled the forest communities it is possible to restore the abundance with a model which can be replicated all over the world, based on local resources.
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Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu