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.
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.
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: