After just a week at Navdanya – Vandana Shiva’s biodiversity conservation farm in Dehradun, northern India, my mind is blown. This place is such haven of peace and tranquility amidst the chaos of India, but it is also buzzing with the enthusiasm of so many active, inspired people from all over the world.
Vandana Shiva and course participants out amongst the Ragi (Finger Millet)
I arrived at the tail-end of their annual A-Z of Agro-Ecology course, where a contingent of about 30 people from over 15 countries had come to learn universally adaptable ways to design resilient food systems. Encompassing everything from permaculture, horticulture and vermiculture to fermentation, preservation and Indian chutney-making, people really were given a deep sense of where their food comes from and how to produce it ethically from farm to table.
Picking Indian Gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) – a medicinal tree
To see this small farm (less than 20 acres) not only growing all kinds of organic, traditional, non-GMO varieties of grain, fruit, vegetables and medicines from all over India, but also planting seeds of empowerment and hope into the minds of such a diverse range of people was a truly inspiring thing.
Indian chutney workshop
When the course was over, everyone was left with a strong sense that the movement towards organic, ecological, resilient food production is crucial for our survival and wellbeing in the years to come. More importantly, it was agreed that this is only going to happen at many diverse, small-scale, community levels rather than through unsustainable, industrial monoculture farming and that this will ultimately give us a deeper connection and respect for our food and the world around us.
The best way to the heart is through the stomach, but what is put into the stomach should also come from the heart.