Aug 12, 2019

EARTH TRUST 24/7

THE ET TEAM AT THE FARMERS' RALLY
THE ET TEAM AT THE FARMERS' RALLY

The skies have opened up with a vengeance. It is pouring fit to launch an ark from the Nilgiris!! The monsoon is a month behind schedule, but the thirsty ground is being quenched. Our farmers will put in the seeds for winter crops. At Holabettu our resource farm, we are trying to quantify the average yield of different vegetables per cent- one hundredth of an acre. Barring major natural catastrophes, we are trying to fine-tune crop planning and harvesting quantities.

The highlight  of the last quarter was the mass rally organised by the State Horticulture Department to create awareness about the need to make Nilgiris District Organic. Nearly 5000 farmers joined. ET has been at it for over 15 years now. Finally, finally awareness is spreading. The Et team was naturally there.

Our women's programme was held in Kattabettu this time. We had invited Mr. Santhosh from The Employees provident Fund Office to give the Certificates to our graduates! He was touched he said, at the invitation and he was completely taken aback by the energy and enthusiasm of the women. He spoke to them about government saving  schemes in the 'unorganised' sector.  Meetings were held with the women, to discuss the need to take them to the next level of economic activity. We are planning to have them make/knit/sew items for a Christmas sale. Our women have participated in native grass planting on World Wetland Day. Why wait for a designated day we decided. We will introduce this activity as an integral part of our Women's programme. When a Badaga dies, before he/she is buried, the village folk take turns to ask for forgiveness for all that the deceased person may done. One of their prayers goes something like " If she/he has defiled the waters, please forgive him". It is the loss of this sacred connection to every activity of ours that we have become insensitive to the world around us.

If there is one predictable fact in the life of an NGO working with Nature, it is unpredictability!! Every day is thronged with activity, our staff seem to be going round like headless chickens, but there is a tremendous multi-tasking going on which comes naturally to our predominantly women staff. The chaos translates to targets achieved, accounts submitted and reports reluctantly written. These are wonderful people who "DO" stuff on the ground but do not have the time to sit and use words to describe their days/weeks/months.

It is left to us collating the report, to fill in the emotional blanks, the joys, frustrations and love that goes into their days. We have to translate unarticulated emotions and try to present an encapsulated version of ' targets, target beneficiaries, programmes, project proposals and ultimately home in the raison d' etre of such a report which is financial support. But we at Earth Trust want far more than that-- we want you dear reader to be hooked enough to participate in what we are doing, to invest yourself in our efforts and share in the satisfaction of knowing that we are doing our bit to make a difference. You can do this even sitting thousands of miles away .Everything is not about money. Even wishing us success in our efforts adds to our good-will corpus! We need help from all directions.

EBBY T OUR GINGER FARMER AT GUDALUR
EBBY T OUR GINGER FARMER AT GUDALUR
SANTHOSH HANDING OUT CERTIFICATES
SANTHOSH HANDING OUT CERTIFICATES
HAPPY STUDENTS DISPLAYING THEIR WORK AT KATTABETTU
HAPPY STUDENTS DISPLAYING THEIR WORK AT KATTABETTU
May 13, 2019

Farming and more Farming

Nimmi,Murugesh and Smitha with their certificates
Nimmi,Murugesh and Smitha with their certificates

Global Giving Report May 2019 

Life as a volunteer in a small NGO tends to swallow up hours days and weeks-- . Before we know it, it is time for another report. Our Project Co-coordinator has been busy amongst her various chores ( including redoing and refurbishing her home) trying to make the perfect PPT to wow our readers. I have been telling her not to break her head or heart over it, because, the simple truth is, work and activities at Earth Trust are never-ending and just when you think you have wrapped up your paragraph, another event happens and we end  up re-acting, My God, I have to put that in too ----------. So there goes our deadlines, which are never dead anyway but constantly alive. She is a volunteer too.

Our farming programme was par for the course. You have to remember that what we do is ongoing. So basically as one crop cycle ends another starts. We are trying to find ways and means to revive soil in beds where broccoli or cabbages have been planted. No farmer used to the old ways would want to plant big areas of these two vegetables. They always aver that that particular place would become useless for any meaningful planting soon. We had a meeting of the sales manager Jaya, Project Co-coordinator Nimmi, farm manager Murugesh  and the  Managing Trustee to discuss crop-planning based on demand and supply.   We follow the bio-dynamic system of crop rotation, but our resource farm manager Murugesh requested us to allot small quantities of these two vegetables broccoli and cabbage to all our farmers. Why is it that they are so reluctant to think out of the box. I have suggesting raised beds with soil barriers below. What is wonderful about these meetings is the way each person fights for what they think is the right action to be taken. So as moderator I always have to intervene and say-- People, we are all on the same side. Nimmi has been representing ET on the Steering Committee to make the whole of  Nilgiris organic. Nimmi, Smitha(PhD) our farmer from Gudalur and  Murugesh attended a Bio-Dynamic training programme for five days at Srirangapatina  in Mysore. Murugesh is already an adept. This course was a refresher for him. Smitha did her thesis on Kadukkai- Terminalia Chebulia. Murugesh was once again sent to a 'Training the Trainer' programme in Mysore for 10 days. This was facilitated by  Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA), the training arm of the Deutscher Bauernverband (DBV) - The German Farmers’ Association. He  would fit the description-- "Full many a gem of purest ray serene, the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear" We have to prod and push him to come forward and share his  knowledge garnered over a decade of practical experience to new audiences - farmers from around South India. he understands but does not speak or write much English-- shyness basically. Part of his training was how to reach out to his audience. A late bloomer, coming into his own, we are glad for him.  He came back from the training with a pat on his back, one of the few to do so. Sometime in September this year, we will be holding training sessions here in the Nilgiris. In the meanwhile, we are also part of an initiative Vikalpsangam(vikalpsangam.org).  We are resisting moves to align India's plant varieties IPR law along UPOV lines. Very worrying to think of a future where we will have no say on what farmers can or cannot sow or store or exchange seeds. On the anvil, Earth Trust will be submitting a petition to the District Collector to ban the use of the infamous Roundup, a product of the even more infamous Monsanto. The women's Skill Development and Health programme was held in Morakutty, a tiny hamlet over January February and March this year. Dr. Rameez, an acupressure/accupuncture specialist was the chief guest at the valedictory function. As always the women learnt how to knit sew basic garments and to make home remedies for minor ailments based on traditional methods. Their biggest discovery is that they can do all these things! We are signing off for now. Thank you. 

 

 

Rameez with our successful graduates at Morakutty
Rameez with our successful graduates at Morakutty
Vegetables radiating health from the ET  Farm
Vegetables radiating health from the ET Farm
Feb 21, 2019

Sustainable Agriculture-Resending


Pongal, the farmers’ festival in Tamil Nadu has just gotten over. We celebrate the (apparent) return journey of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn to the equator. In earlier times, till as recently as fifty years ago, this spelt predictable weather patterns. The words” Climate Changes” have been flogged to death in every available public space and media. We are experiencing the effects now. An uncertain rain equals uncertain crop sowing and harvesting. This equals uncertain supply to the market. Here, we are trying our hardest to persuade farmers to not revert to chemical farming where returns are more assured. This is what it translates to at the ground level where Earth Trust works.

Life at Earth Trust goes on, following the cyclical movements of the sun. Our farming programme is being run with skeletal staff. We  are struggling to make farmers understand the concepts of demand and supply, crop cycles and harvesting cycles. With unreliable rains it is tough for them and tougher for us to see that they do not slip back into chemical farming.

Our Health programme and skill development programme for women are a regular feature of our yearly calendar. The basics of the syllabi remain the same but we are working on making the content more interesting. We had a hair styling demonstration in this small village called Thuneri. Needless to say the women had a great time. The secrets behind a healthy face and healthy hair---- food, nutrition and stress managing techniques formed the sub-text of the whole exercise. Bonding takes place in a meaningful way.

What we do is so much more than these few words which make up this report. 

This report has been quite delayed --- better late than never. We do apologise for the same.Kindly bear with us.

Thank you from the whole Earth Trust Team

--
Malathi
 
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