Mulch your way to a sustainable life and a greener planet

Switching over to a sustainable way of life can do wonders but it is not something that should feel out of reach. Meet the people who will help you take the leap by keeping it simple

Let’s face it—with climate change threatening our very survival on the planet, we can no longer stay oblivious about the impact of our daily choices. Though reversing the damage is a large-scale effort, small daily measures targeted towards a more sustainable lifestyle can make a significant difference in our personal well-being and our environment. Want to know how to begin? The following people and initiatives will show you how simple it all really is.

1.    Solitude Farm Workshops, Auroville, Puducherry
Auroville has long been known for its nature-loving practices, put in place by a community of people who delved into all aspects of sustainable living years before eco-activism got trending. If you are keen to make room for healthier, ecologically sensitive choices, then the Solitude Farming workshop is one such wonderful experience. Run by a community of farmers, it was started in 1996 by a group of young locals, one of whom, Krishna McKenzie, was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka, the Japanese eco-warrior who championed natural farming and permaculture. You can learn about how all bio resources—leaves, weeds, branches—when returned to the soil, increase soil fertility and eliminate the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The community’s 130 different plants are used as ingredients in the dishes served in their café called Solitude Farm Cafe.

Write to krishnamckenzie@auroville.org.in; call (984)3319260
 

2.    Permaculture Patashala, Hyderabad
This is the big daddy of permaculture initiatives in India. Helmed by Narsanna Koppula, the pioneer of permaculture in the country, the three-month internship programme draws permaculture enthusiasts from across the world.

The programme is all about hands-on learning, with the ‘school’ being a 1,000-square-metre food forest in suburban Hyderabad, which is part of environmental organisation ARANYA Agricultural Alternatives. You are taught the science of growing food without major human intervention - from mulching leaves, growing produce on dry lands, building biodiversity and facilitating microbial growth, to composting, sowing seeds and learning about the interconnections between insects, plants and weeds.

Write to permanent.agriculture@gmail.com; call Narsanna Koppula on 09440826722; visit permacultureindia.org

3.    Aikyam, Bengaluru
Aikyam, founded by Sandeep Anirudhan, has nearly 3,000 members and a calendar brimming with earth-loving activities: visits to food forests; documentary screenings; protest campaigns to save mangroves; vegetable-and terrace-gardening workshops; ways to devise zero-waste travel itineraries; newspaper weaving; organic-cooking workshops; making fermented food; and a dozen more skills that can do wonders for your body and soul. Anirudhan confesses he is here to question norms and break the mould: “Let’s start with that wee bit of toothpaste that you squeeze onto your toothbrush every morning and all the chemicals in it. Now let’s think of the seven billion people who are doing the exact same thing every morning and sending it down the drain; all of it is heading into our oceans. And that’s just toothpaste.”

Scary? Anirudhan and his tribe will teach you not just to question but also to find and ‘make’ the right answers.

Write to Sandeep.anirudhan@gmail.com; give a missed call to (080) 33508383
 

4.    GeeliMitti Farms, Nainital
According to founder Shagun Singh, GeeliMitti (wet earth) is “a call to go back to our roots and an affirmation towards earth care and repair.” Though the farm focuses on permaculture, one of their key thrusts is also on green architecture. Recently, Singh conducted a 45-day workshop where participants from all over the world learned how to build earthquake-resistant homes using mud, cow dung, lime and plastic trash. These building techniques are centred on natural ventilation, low costs, alternate sewage treatment, natural water capturing and reusing.

Write to geelimittiindia@gmail.com; call 09540937144
 

5.    Mandala Organics, Mumbai
“Am I buying more than I need? Am I aware where my money is being spent? Permaculture is about all this too, not just composting, sowing seeds, making your own enzymes or growing your own food,” says Avanee Choksi. The founder of Mandala Organics is out to teach small steps to urban sustainability one weekend workshop at a time. Her 90-minute workshops help participants implement sustainable ways without having to invest a lot of time. The workshops focus on addressing climate change, ethics of permaculture, ethical money, waste management, home composting, bio enzymes and sowing seeds. The organisation is also working on a curriculum on urban permaculture that they hope could become a full-time course or elective in colleges.

To register, WhatsApp on 9820952632
 

6.    Purvi Vyas, Ahmedabad
“It’s wonderful to be a foodie, but how often do we really try to understand the story behind what we eat?” asks Purvi Vyas. This Ahmedabad-based eco-warrior practises what she preaches - five years ago, she quit her job as an environmental consultant and decided to become a full-time farmer. Though Vyas conducts lectures and workshops on sustainable living at various venues in Ahmedabad, her farm at Matar village near the city is where you will feel nudged close to the Gandhian principles of simple, sustainable living. Vyas’s five-acre farm employs age-old Indian farming practices for chemical-free fruits, vegetables, cereal, herbs and animal fodder. While university-going students routinely visit her farm on excursions, Vyas also shares her knowledge with anyone who wants to follow the same path.

Write to poorvivyas@gmail.com to know more about her next workshop

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