Volunteers bring Innovation

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Since our last newsletter we have had our busiest season ever with the fresh inspiring spirits of volunteers from all over the world.

This years group all had excellent skills in different areas making a huge contribution to the development of the farm. Meet each of them and learn more about the projects and work they contributed to on the farm.

Deepa (India, 21 years old)

Deepa is currently studying with Clea of Permaculture Ways, India in Goa to further her knowledge for application at Saha Astitva’s eco farm.

Deepa says

“I graduated with an Engineer degree in Biotechnology. Wanting to learn all aspects of sustainability and use what I have learned from the university, brought me to Saha Astitva. ”

 

Dean (Canada, 20 years old)

Dean also begins a 1 year internship as trainee farm manager.  Dean is also at FOYTS Farm with Clea Chndmal being retrained in essential soil building skills.

Dean says:

“I have come to Saha Astitva to further my knowledge of permaculture farming, and Vedic farming practices. I will be undertaking a farm management internship and at the same time adopting a healthy lifestyle”.

 

Guillaume (France, 28 years old) I am here as a sustainable tourism project manager intern for the second year of a scientific  Masters degree at a Dutch university. At Saha Astitva I will be studying  the potential of tourism as an alternative source of livelihood for tribal communities in the Tansa Valley region using a participatory approach.

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-talented Durga (Canada, 24 years old) Durga has become part of Saha Astiva!  She joined in December and showed immediate flair for educating and entertaining on all things related to permaculture.  With an itch in her soles to discover the rest of India she left after two months to go and help Saha Astitva’s camp at the Kumbh for one month.  She is now continuing her journey in the north and preparing to return to Saha Astitva in monsoon.

Durga writes “My long awaited trip to India (planned for 3 years prior to leaving North America) is about deepening my spiritual practice and learning the wisdom of Vedic farming. I will be continuing my seva, started some years ago at Neein Karoli Baba ashram in New Mexico”.  Her articles written for Saha Astitva can be viewed here.

 

Rebecca (USA, 22 years old) Rebecca from USA arrived for three weeks volunteering and brought with her ‘Wild Fermentation book by Sandor Ellix Katz’, a kind of bible on fermenting foods.  We decided to try our hand at wild fermentation and ended up having a stall at Mumbai’s farmers market!  Rebecca was the first one to sleep in only a hammock on the jungle side of the farm!  A very courageous young lady, who was last seen visiting the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore.

Rebecca says ” I come to Saha Astitva eager to learn about spiritual ecology, Vedic farming, and Indian culture.  I also have a passion to create fermented value added products using farm surplus.”

Utsav (India, 23 years old) Utsav joined at the beginning of December. He can’t say how long he’ll be with us, but he’s a great addition to our team!  Utsav says:

“I love designing and engineering. I just finished my degree in Materials Engineering and here I am working on designing a solar dehydrator. It is a great learning and feeling to be using my skills for helping Saha Astitva and the tribal people. Apart from my main job I am also learning a lot about spiritual ecology”.

 

Clara (Spain, 28 years old) 

” I came to Saha Astitva to learn more about organic agriculture in a tropical climate and sustainable ways of living with the added value of the spiritual richness of India. My role was helping to promote the activities run in the farm and to increase the awareness and engagement of visitors/community to an organic lifestyle and conscious consumerism.  The Kumbh was an amazing experience and thank you for giving me th opportunity to be there”

In addition we were joined by Lizzie and Sophie from the UK.  Both bringing great experience and skills, they care hugely about biodiversity, organic food and permaculture.  They said “this trip to India is intended as a real journey for us on many levels, and we’re eager to contribute and learn as much as possible ” Contribute they did!  Lizzie helped Dean integrate into his farm manager’s trainee role, worked on the seed bank and helped with infrastructure of the shop.  Sophie made huge strides in our social media and made many useful connections and helped set us up for the Farmers market and the #pluckcookeat on 10th March.  They are currently at Navdanya’s famous organic farm in Dehraduhn in the north.

Thomas-isa-andy

Thomas Kuhn, 38 (USA) also joined for three weeks.  Thomas was Amazing!  Having worked in the Peace Corps in the USA for years, he brought a whole new level of commitment, flexibility and general goodness with him. He gave a ‘skills share supper on ‘getting the most out of the volunteering experience.

And last but not least…

Arrived after meeting us at our camp at the Kumbh, Andy and Iza were tempted to come south just to be on the farm.  Two days after arriving from the 30 hour train journey, they were plunged in at the deep end, helping out at a programme for  50 visiting schoolchildren!

Isa, 26 (Denmark) says:

“It has been a really relaxing experience for me.  I was stressed from all the travel around India and finally found peace and harmony with the connection with nature.”

Andy, 32 (San Francisco /Sheffield, UK) Andy has been looking after fair maintenance after Dean left for his training in Goa.  Andy says ” It’s been really enjoyable, theres a lot to learn and do and I’ve enjoyed all the different things going on.  This is the first home I’ve had in 8 months.  It’s been awesome!”

Although we have a continuous stream of volunteers throughout the year, January and February saw numbers increase to nine on the farm!  We quickly realized that while so many people gives a great spirit of community, the dynamic can be a little tricky to handle, given our current resources!

We also recognized that conflict would invariably arise over the shared facilities and worked together on a participatory approach to conflict resolution, recognizing if we can’t be in harmony with ourselves and each other, then really there is no hope for peace in the world!  Non violent communication was often a hot topic.  Many skillshare suppers were held over delicious meals.  Here’s a picture of our camp-fire pizza!

pizza

We learned that optimal numbers of volunteers will be limited in the future to 6 and then a minimum stay on one month with be required.  This rule is ready to be broken in exceptional circumstances.  Apply now if you think you’re ready!

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