The Earth Trust

Earth Trust works to give tools to tribals and villagers to farm their land in a sustainable way, to develop responsibility for Primary Health solutions with traditional answers and to give rural children inspiration, skills & passion for revitalising their communities & land. Email: earthtrust@gmail.com
Mar 29, 2016

Report for November 2015 to March 2016

Report for the Period November 2015 to March 2016 

This is the time of the year, mid- November to mid –February that the Badaga villages in the Nilgiri Mountains of South India host “Hubbas” – festivals. They celebrate their ‘Hethai’, - grandmother / Tribal ancestress who has seamlessly morphed into the Divine Feminine. The festivities are held in different villages at different times. In India, many of our gods and goddesses are comfortably anthropomorphic as well!

All this translates to staff taking leave and schedules going haywire. Nimmi our Project Director is generally in a tizzy trying to juggle people and timings around.

 

Changing climate is a reality, not just a buzz-phrase to include

For as long as the older folk in the villages remember, forest fires came and the grass lands underwent burning. Pastoralists point out that fire was an integral part of grassland regeneration. But for the last seventy-eighty years, the fires have been man-made. Over the last quarter of century, there seems to be a periodicity of three years between occurrences. The last one was in 2015 and the next one could be anticipated in 2018. But this year, we again had fires last month--------. This time, it was because some people had burnt forests to stop leopards from coming for their cattle. Because of strong wildlife protection laws, the leopard population has increased. Same stories worldwide, only latitudes and longitudes differ. There are no easy answers.

We at Earth Trust are looking to provide a tentative road map for the next decade which will factor in changing climate patterns combined with dwindling natural resources and political lethargy. Towards this end we have been talking to individuals who are concerned, can think ahead and anticipate. We hope these conversations will lead to many small-scale positive impacts which will cumulatively add up to comprehensive adaption to the effects of climate change. At the end of the day, a farmer wants to be paid, a Tribal person wants the freedom to gather and live as he has always done. Women want the security of a roof and meals for their families. Words like ‘Climate change’- an incontrovertible fact- have no relevance to them in the abstract. However they certainly observe and can relate to changes that are happening around them. It is Earth Trust’s responsibility to help counter worst-case scenarios with appropriate action. The challenge lies in eliciting a ‘what-next’ reaction and not an ‘OMG what shall we do?’ one.

 

Farming Programme

Changing and unpredictable weather patterns mean that traditional times and rhythms for sowing and harvesting that have been followed for generations do not work anymore. This again is a challenge for our Farming team. They have to constantly re-invent, customize and provide inputs to farmers.

Over these past years the numbers of farmers under the ET umbrella has grown. More and more of them want to be part of ET and Biogain- Biodynamic Organic Growers’ AssociationI In Nilgiris- a co-operative of farmers who follow our protocols for Organic/Natural farming. This is for 3 main reasons:

  • The credibility and dependability established by Earth Trust, thanks to Ms Orr, over the last 10 years,
  • Public awareness of the ill-effects of consuming chemically grown fruits and vegetables/produce, basically consuming poison, has increased due to efforts by both the medical fraternity and the media.
  • Neighbouring states like Kerala have been considering banning vegetables/fruits/produce from the Nilgiris because of very concentrated chemical residues.

To provide assured marketing support for our farmers, Earth Trust opened a new shop on the 4th of February 2016. (News article at http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/earth-trust-opens-organic-outlet/article8190684.ece). This is a big step forward. Nat and Mo—sounds like a vaudeville act!!—are two very bright sparks volunteering at the shop. They are International high school students at Lawrence School Lovedale, Ooty. Nat is from a farming background in Colorado and Mo is from Thailand. They are learning firsthand about all activities of ET.  Sale of Organic produce from 01.4.2014 to 31.03.2015   was: Rs.15, 86,410.00= 23,752.24 U.S. $.

 

The Central Government Horticultural Research Station (HRS) in Ooty (also affiliated with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore- the nearest big city in the plains) has approached us to collaborate on a Geographical Indicator Research Programme for ‘Malai Poondu’-hill garlic, specific to the Nilgiris.

 

On November 30th, 2015, Earth Trust was invited to participate in a programme conducted by BERAS (http://www.beras.eu/about-us) titled Western Ghats-Nilgiris Biosphere Regional Level Seminar on Ecological Regenerative Agriculture (ERA), Sustainable Food Societies(SFS) and Diet for a Green Planet-“Food from a living soil” We participated as these are all an integral part of the Earth Trust vision.

 

Health and IGP

November 2015 through March 2016, the Health programmes –primary health care –for women were in full swing in Bembatti and Ithallar villages. Our time-table for our programmes have to accommodate all the Hethai festivals. Earth Trust was invited to the Hethai festival at Bembatti held on the 11th and 12th of January. You can see our staff dancing with gay abandon with the locals. Our Health Team and IGP (Income Generation Programme) have started their three-month long training programmes for women in Melkowatty village. Both these programmes run in tandem, 2 days of Health training and 3 days of IGP training. The inauguration was a lively affair. There was an elderly woman in traditional attire in the front row, busily knitting away during all of the ceremonies—perfectly comfortable with herself!! She was a fitting example of IGP – optimal use of time and indirect savings. So much for speeches and lengthy soporific introductions!! All the older people were nostalgic about the taste of the food they ate as children.

 

Eco-club

Suresh of the Eco club and Nimmi our Project Director organized an awareness event in connection with ‘World Sparrow Day’ at Mountain Home School in Ooty. We had an inter-school competition where the participants had to create out of waste material an object that birds would use. Predictably, there were bird houses and feeders. The first prize was awarded to the entry which did not use any nails. The School Board Examinations for 19th and 12 standards are held during this time. So we have decided in future to create a Nilgiri Sparrow day that will not clash with exam timings. The usual rounds of visits to 14 Middle level Government schools are ongoing. The Blue Mountain School children were taken to Pillur dam and treated to a ride in a coracle- a country boat that is just a piece of leather over a frame.

 

Behind all the light-heartedness, the operational activities of Earth Trust continue. It is the end of the financial year for us. We are wrapping up accounts, collecting bills for expenses, hassling our staff for their reports so as to send a consolidated summary to you-Global Giving and to our other potential funders; preparing the schedule of all activities for April 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017. We have also let 3 of our staff go – lack of sustained funding being the mail reason. There is always another year ahead.

Dec 30, 2015

ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE PERIOD OCT 2014 TO SEPT 2015

 

THE EARTH TRUST ANNUAL REPORT FROM OCTOBER ’14 TO SEPTEMBER ’15.

 

The Earth Trust is a service organization trying very hard to make a difference to the Nilgiris District.

Our core activities are farming, Health programmes for women, working with the Kurumba Tribals at Droog and the eco-club programmes for school children.

We have small holdings at Holabettu, Kollimalai, leased land at Thambatty and YWCA Ooty. We no longer lease the latter two.

The Holabbettu and Kollimalai farms grow vegetables organically and bio-dynamically, are Training/Resource Centres and will evolve as centres for Safe-seed growing.

The cuttings propogated in these farms are sold at subsidized rates to farmers and the medicinal plants to the women in our Health and Income Generation Programmes and to the Tribal women at Droog. They are distributed free of cost to the Government school children in our eco-clubs.

A report by its very definition reduces, in this case, human effort, struggles, successes and setbacks to figures in a table at best or colourful graphs. These by their ability to convey at a glance a picture, are necessary. It becomes difficult for the writer of the annual report to be completely objective and not be constantly reminded of the odds against the backdrop of which, the figures and percentages unfold.

So, while reading the farming report, you also have to visualize the bison trampling over the fences and destroying in one night the labour of two months. This has happened at least 4 times in Holabettu. For Jaikumar of our farming team, this involves, each time, repairing the fence and starting all over again- a daunting task. We also as a principal always follow the dictum that we live and work with Nature. All the environmental ills facing the whole world have arisen out of a need to control, forgetting that “No man is an island”.

While reading the report on cuttings, you have to picture Jayalakshmi of our farming team, calling at the office in a panic, that the wind had blown away the plastic sheet under which she nurses and nurtures her cuttings, or that the rain had collected in the plastic sheet and was threatening to tear it down and drown the young plants.

The Health Programmes and Income Generation programmes are subject to village activities---- a funeral will shut everything down, a wedding or festival will throw every single carefully orchestrated activity out of schedule. But the love with which the village people greet our Teams helps us make light of every single chaos. The relationships forged carry on for years. A random meeting with someone who calls out in a bus or some office—Ma’am, don’t you remember me, I attended the Earth Trust IGP programme in Kilinjada----- makes every single moment worthwhile.

If there is one programme that is very heart -warming it is the Eco-club programme. Children are a joy to work with. We at Earth Trust never forget that they will carry the burden of this environmentally damaged world on their shoulders. We try and inform them through play and activities.

Please find attached all our facts and figures for the period October ’14 to September ’15. 

Farming Programmes.

A total of 17 awareness programmes were held in 17 villages where 629 participants were alerted to the dangers of chemical farming and sensitized to the need for natural/organic farming. This is what their grandfathers and great grandfathers had been doing anyway-----. We try and emphasize the importance of food security and safe-seed sources to them. It is hard work, because they do not want to leave their comfort zones. We were able to set up 27 herbal gardens and 6 vegetable gardens in these villages. We held 5 training programmes spread over a year. Ninety-nine farmers who showed keen interest participated. These were held at our Resource farms at Holabettu and Kollimalai. They are free. We have scheduled the next one for the end of January ’16.The farms produced over 50 varieties of 14,231 Kilos of vegetables/herbs. We also produced seeds but just for ourselves and for our farmers. The Resource farms also propagated over 27,972 cuttings/seedlings of herbs, medicinal plants and seedlings. The farmers of Bio-Gain, which comes under the Earth Trust umbrella, produced over 75 varieties of vegetables /fruits/herbs, items like turmeric, traditional varieties of brown rice, tea, coffee etc.  totaling 46,585 kilos.

Health programme

We conducted our Primary Health Care programmes in 9 villages. Over 123 women participated. We set up 77 small medicinal plants/herbs gardens in the houses of the women who were interested. In the Kozhikarai Medicinal preparation Unit, Tribal women prepared and sold 2.3 kgs of Choornams(Triphala and Ashta choornam) , 62 kgs of nutritional flour, 1.6 litres of medicinal oils and 2 litres of medicinal syrup. The Droog Tribal women made 1.350 kilos of Choornams, 20.5 kgs of nutritional flour, 2.450 litres of medicinal oils and 1.3 litres of medicinal syrups. Our Health Team also held Tribal medicinal preparation workshop for 30 students from Jain International School Bangalore combined with a visit to a Shola forest. , farming exposure visits for 10 women from Oranalli, and held awareness on potential of medicinal Plant varieties for over 70 Tribal farmers and medicinal plant growers in the NAWA community hall at Kotagiri.

The Income Generation Programme.

The ET team held these programmes in 6 villages. Each programme covers basic tailoring, knitting sewing etc and is spread over 3 months. Over 83 women participated. The certificates they obtain from Earth Trust help them to get jobs if they so wished. At the end of the 3 months, the women surprise themselves at the variety of garments they are able to stitch! A lot of bonding takes place. This short paragraph will not tell you about the happy chatter and sharing of personal problems in an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. Everything in life is not about targets and percentages.

The Eco-club programmes

Our programmes are mostly run in Government schools, where the total strength of students is dwindling year by year. We still believe that every child has a right to information that is vital – regarding the environment. This past year, we covered 18 government schools and one private school. A total of 542 children learnt about Shola forests, the environmental damages caused by us humans, how to grow vegetables organically. They were shown many programmes using CDs on Nature as well. A total of 159.4 kgs 10 varieties of vegetables were harvested by these children. These vegetables were then used for their Mid-day Meals, provided by the State Government. 

The journey continues, new faces replace the old, but the vision and soul of Earth Trust stays steadfast and true.  


Attachments:
Aug 27, 2015

Organic Farming Outreach programme in Nilgiri Vill

Organic Farming Outreach programme in Nilgiri VillagesFrom April 2015 to June 2015 

Organic Farming Outreach Programme

Agriculture has been the primary source of income for the majority of families in rural areas of Nilgiris.Unsuitable land management, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has led to the deterioration of the soil and the production of unhealthy food. Hence there is an urgent need for introducing the alternative sustainable agricultural techniques in Nilgiris. The EARTH TRUST acknowledges need of organic agriculture   and environmental issues as crucial to the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, peace and development and, in breaking the effects of the vicious circle of unemployment, poverty and migration in the Nilgiris. The Earth trust mobilizes and facilitates collaboration among various partners especially in organic farmers development. It develops concepts and implements programmes with approaches and methodologies that enable its audience to identify problems, set priority, and address needs assessments.

The Earth Trust has been a key player in working towards alleviating the ravages of years of chemical abuse on the soil of the Nilgiri Hills. It has spent a good decade in this tireless effort. As part of its vision to restore the soil it continues its farming outreach with renewed vigour and improved strategy that permeats to one cluster of villages under the same watershed area so that focus is not lost.In the last quarter, the farming outreach to create awarness about organic farming through talks, visual aids and interaction has reached about 500 farmers from which  10 key farmers were chosen for further hands on training in the months to come. Setting up of an organic training centre for each village is on the cards.

OUR AIMS

  • To upgrade the skills and methodologies of organic farming system among rural farming communitis.
  • To facilitate farming community to harness optimum yield from organic agriculture sector.
  • To facilitate a concept of environmental citizenship among the Nilgiris farmers, through the integration of knowledge, sense of responsibility and successful action to mitigate chemical farming
  • To reinforce and reward existing environmentally friendly lifestyles among youth, thereby delaying or reducing the chemicals and pesticides.
  • To integrate the Nilgiris farmers  efforts into the global effort to gain global recognition and support impact

 

  • To reinforce and reward existing environmentally friendly lifestyles among youth, thereby delaying or reducing the chemicals and pesticides.
  • To integrate the Nilgiris farmers  efforts into the global effort to gain global recognition and support impact

 

 

Awareness Programme was conducted in the following villages

 

S.No

Village

No. of Participants

 

1

Ottimora Hosahatty

47

2

Porthy

39

3

Puduhatty

30

4

Mel Appukodu

58

5

Bygamandu

40

6

Melodayaratty

37

7

Godalatty

30

8

Kilkowhatty

33

9

Muttinad

26

10

Muthugula

49

11

B.Manihatty

15

12

Bickol

41

13

Soraigundu

43

14

Gudalur

58

 

Total

546 Farmers

 

Awareness Activities

  1. Introduction about our organization
  2. PPT on Earth Trust  activities
  3. Video show on Slow poisoning of India
  4. Discussion with farmers about organic agriculture and its importance.
  5. Explanation about the farming outreach program.
  6. Discussion and explanation about the organic training centre (OTC) in future.

 

Organic Farming Awareness Programme in GUDALUR Area

The following farmers were monitored for soundness of organic practices in the Gudalur the warmer area of the Nilgiris on their land ranging from 20 cents to 6 acres. These farmers sell their produce through Biogain, The Earth Trust’s marketing outlet.

S. No.

FARMER NAME

PLACE

LAND AREA

1

Selvarathnam

Aruthuparai

3.8ac

2

Thirusenthuran

Selakunnai

4 ac

(Tea 3.5-0.5 veg)

3

Chandran

Selakunnai

30 cent Tea

4

Ramesh kumar

Selakunnai

60 cent tea

50 cent veg

5

R.vijayakumar

Selakunnai

3.5 ac

1.5 ac empty land

6

Sri Gowtham

Thaithamattam

70 cent

7

A.Raghukumar

Thaithamattam

3ac

1.5 banana

8

Ravichandran

Thaithamattam

2ac

50 cent banana

9

Madhusudhan

Thaithamattam

2 ac

10

Udhayan

Ponvail

6 ac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORGANIC MARKETING

We have set up an innovative marketing system which gives a stable price (decided with the farmer) for his vegetables.  It is based on an average of the widely fluctuating price of chemical vegetables plus 10%.

Vision

It was planned to support the sales of vegetable until such time as enough vegetables to were grown to cover the cost of marketing & make a small profit.

At that point Biogain would take over the marketing coat & give over the small management & training contribution to ET.

It was intended that ET would act as farm gate sales point that vegetables would be sent directly to customer by passing middle man.

Vegetable marketing from 47 farmers through our BiOGAiN (Bio dynamic Organic growers association) market by our  farmers and from our model farms.

The impact that Earth Trust has is more qualitative that it is quantitative and we strive for greater reach. This we will achieve with generous support from Global Giving.

 

The Earth Trust, Hema Cottage, Bharathinagar, Ketti Post, Nilgiris 643215 TN

Website: www.earthtrustnilgiris.org; email: earthtrust @gmail.com; Tel.:+914232517036

 

 

 

 


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