Saturday, July 14, 2012

Annadana Broadcasts upbeat happenings

The beauty of growing safe foods in season, enjoying the harvests and more importantly sharing wholesome foods grown daily with our community of 14 farmers and 5 team experts, so delicately prepared using biogas is rather gratifying. Each working day in our lives is literally a virtual working holiday. Trust me, i would never trade this for another vocation.

I take this opportunity to introduce Annadana broadcasts to keep you abreast:

Farm activities:
Despite the delayed and erratic monsoon, our soils are rich and fertile after a healthy dose of green manuring with effective management of our water resources from the previous rain harvests. For years now, we have faithfully given back to our soil and she in turn repays us back with such abundance. Whilst the nation of policy makers, conventional farmers, distraught agriculture activists are in a state of distress, we encash on sowing and transplanting. Our secret to this.....we practice  ‘knowledge intensive techniques’ rather than ‘resource intensive inputs’ with a focus on planning, design and management from the outset which forms the basis of successful organic agriculture. 

 Our fields nurture young saplings of a vast local traditional diversity of vegetables from our all time favorites of multi coloured tomatoes, gourds, brinjals, beans, lettuces, okras, corn, radish, carrots, cow pea, potatoes, onions, amaranth, spinach, leeks, chillies, capsicum, rucola, cucumber, parsley, turmeric and more. Flowers range from varieties of marigold, sun flower, cosmos and more. Cereals like paddy, a traditional Karnataka variety called Rajamudi adorns our fields. This is both for food and mostly seed conservation.

Workshops - Our farm workshops keeps us on our toes. The whole team of 19 energised bunch of us thrive on sharing 'our hands on knowledge centric skills' with a single pointed focus on empowering participants. Here is feedback from a enthused participant Sharlene Das "It was a pleasure to meet and interact with all of you.  It is only like-minded people who would come for Workshops like that and I could feel that energy among each one of you. I have jumped right in and am still building my first ever compost pile.  Its taking me a while as I didnt realize how much raw material is required for even a small 4'x8' pile.  But am thoroughly enjoying the experience. Thank you Team Annadana for this information passed on so freely and enthusiastically. At the end of the day, it is being true to Mother Nature that really counts".

Farm Trails for Schools
- With educational fun farming trails abuzz, we have schools responding with a zeal. Thanks to the proactive interests by heads of schools encouraging faculty and vice-versa to partake in our well structured integrated organic farm trail.  We have students from diverse schools indulging in farming activities galore. Our campaign 'Adopt a seed' with seed saving tips on vegetable varieties have students enthralled. With promises to 'save a seed to save a species' now becoming their mission! More importantly is when sordid facts on junk fast foods is revealed, it has them really thinking. When safe food alternatives which are equally delightful on palettes are disclosed, their eyes light up with glee.  All these interactive sessions has them so enraptured that despite subtle hints 'its time to leave', it is with much reluctance! The boisterous energies whilst bidding us bye with overwhelming thank you's is most heartening.

Yesterday saw 35 students from class of 9 class from National Academy for Learning walk our trail. At first the students appeared rather sombre but once the trail commenced the zest of energies that sprung from their beings was amazing....touch, feel, smell the soil and the diverse aromas brought in such a spark to kick start their hands on practicals in our soil health program...from understanding soil types, to broadcasting green manuring, to pit composting, transplanting and more!
With each school visit we get to learn and implement new constructive ideas. We continue to sow seeds of consciousness! You can view this and more in our FB link...
Feedback from teachers from Jain Heritage School in their recent visit – 'it’s wonderful day with lots of knowledge about organic farming. The children got a real experience of what they are actually eating and doing to mother nature. It’s a bright programme which should be put into practice for our future generation to sustain healthy edible foods.
We have learnt a lot about healthy farming and what a farmer does in his field. Thank you team Annadana from all Heritagians '.

Farm Trails for visitors
- We have visitors from all walks wishing to walk our trail 'from soil to seed to plate' and some wish to document our time-tested techniques. 
One such recent visit was to capture Annadana as 'solution providers' for a agrarian documentary film. The comments in our visitors dairy is also very encouraging. "Thank you for this lovely visit. Your presence to the agriculture world is very inspiring. May it radiate to all humankind". Benoit Aquin, a renowned award winning Canadian photographer.

Namma Farm Store
- To cater to the growing demands from visitors and participants attending our workshops, we have opened an informal ' Annadana Farm store' where we have a diverse farm products available from Bio pest control preparations, plant enzymes, vermi-compost, user friendly technical publications, films, memberships, sowing trays, gro bags to nurseries of vegetable saplings, rare insecticide and medicinal plants to educate new age gardeners on their valuable properties and more.

Safe Farming advisory services
- A well wisher has helped us in floating a private limited company to extend our expertise on organic agriculture.
If you wish to live in the luxury of your own farm and make your farm productive or commercial or your land may be lying vacant
but you do not know how to get started? Trust us, farming is no rocket science, if we can do it, you can too! Our expertise ranges from advising ethical corporates, private farms, resorts, hotels, government horticulture farms to International Institutions. Just call an Annadana expert who will offer you consultancy advice and help you getting started.

Safe Food outlets Broadcast
- To further strengthen the safe food movement, we have launched an exchange programme with safe food outlets where we invite and encourage safe food outlets to send in their A4 posters for display on our notice boards and vice versa. Since we have visitors galore, we would like them to have access to safe produce available close to their homes.  And thereby hope to bring harmony and well being to their homes.

Last but not the least, I thank all my dedicated team members, trustees, environmentalists, media and all our well wishers who are generously contributing to Annadana's efforts to make all this happen.

Come join us and spread the message of safe foods

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ensure access to safe food, sign petition

Dear Friends,

You might have watched the last episode of Satyamev Jayate - “Toxic Food - Poison on our Plate” aired on 24 June 2012, Sunday, anchored by Bollywood icon, Aamir Khan, which highlighted how the food that we consume everyday is contaminated by dangerous pesticides. But what are you doing about it? “India for Safe Food“offers you a platform. Join us to urge the Union Agriculture Minister to ensure access to safe food, sign petition here:

The reality is that farming can indeed be done without pesticides and still can yield good results. “Non- Pesticide Management (NPM)” movement in Andhra Pradesh through which millions of farmers are moving out of the pesticides treadmill is a live testimony for the country to emulate. Further, thousands of organic/natural farmers across the country have been producing safe food in the country. All of these are win-win situations for both farmers and consumers.

For all of us to get access to safe food, there needs to be a drastic change in the way agriculture is practised. We have to get rid of dangerous chemicals from food production. But the government does not create a level playing field between chemical agriculture and alternative agriculture in terms of its investments on research or extension or other support systems/incentives in agriculture. Ask Union Agriculture Minister to change this situation and ensure access to safe food for all Indians. Sign the petition here.

Safe food is our right – let’s demand for it!

In solidarity,

Kavitha Kuruganti
India for Safe food