Founder of organic farming in the Himalayas: “Grow food, grow people”

The village of Raila is located 26 kilometers from the nearest town of Haldvani, and from the only road that runs three kilometers from Raila, a curious traveler will have to get through the pine forest right to the very top of the mountain on his own. The farm is located at an altitude of 1482 meters above sea level. The sounds made by the muntjacs – barking deer, leopards and nightjars, which are found in abundance in those places, constantly remind the inhabitants and visitors of the farm that they share their habitat with a huge number of other living creatures.

Organic farming in the Himalayas attracts people of a wide variety of professions from all over the world. However, all of them are united by a common goal – to work for the benefit of nature and society, to develop a system of comprehensive, harmonious education and to prevent a consumerist attitude to life. The founder of the project – Gary Pant – expresses the essence of the project simply: “Grow food, grow people.” He came up with the idea of ​​starting an organic farm after 33 years of service in the Indian Army. According to him, he wanted to return to the land of his ancestors and show everyone that agriculture and gardening can be completely different – contributing to the development of the environment and the person himself. “I once asked my granddaughter where milk comes from. She replied: “My mother gives it to me.” “Where does mom get it from?” I asked. She said that her father brought it to her mother. “And daddy?” I ask. “And dad buys it from the van.” “But where does it come from in the van then?” I do not back down. “From the factory”. “So you’re saying that milk is made in a factory?” I asked. And the 5-year-old girl, without any hesitation, confirmed that it was the factory that was the source of milk. And then I realized that the younger generation is completely out of touch with the earth, they have no idea where food comes from. The adult generation is not interested in the land: people do not want to get their hands dirty, they want to find a cleaner job and sell the land for pennies. I decided that I simply had to do something for society before I retired, ”says Gary. His wife, Richa Pant, is a journalist, teacher, traveler and mother. She believes that proximity to the earth and nature allows the child to grow up harmonious and not fall for the trap of consumerism. “Only when you start living side by side with nature do you realize how little you really need,” she says. Another founder of the project, Eliot Mercier, now lives most of the time in France, but is actively involved in the development of the economy. His dream is to expand the network of educational platforms and connect people and various organizations to ensure the ecological well-being of our planet. “Seeing people reconnecting with the earth, watching the wonders of nature, that brings me joy,” Eliot admits. “I want to show that being a farmer today is a unique intellectual and emotional experience.”

Anyone can join this experience: the project has its own website, where you can get to know the life of the farm, its inhabitants and their principles. Five principles:

— to share resources, ideas, experience. The emphasis on the accumulation and multiplication of resources, rather than on free exchange, leads to the fact that humanity consumes more and less rationally uses the available resources. In a Himalayan farm, guests and residents of the farm – students, teachers, volunteers, travelers – choose a different way of life: to live together and share. Sharing housing, a shared kitchen, space for work and creativity. All this contributes to the formation of a healthier society and helps to establish deeper and more emotional relationships.

– make knowledge accessible to all. The inhabitants of the economy are sure that humanity is a huge family, and each individual person should feel like a master with all the responsibility inherent in this status. The farm is open to everyone, and for every group of people – schoolchildren, college and university students, city dwellers, amateur gardeners, scientists, local farmers, travelers and tourists – its inhabitants strive to develop a special, useful and exciting educational program that can convey before them, a simple thought: we are all responsible for agriculture and the quality of food, for ecology and the environment, because we are members of one family.

– learn from experience. The founders and inhabitants of the farm are sure that the most effective way to know yourself and the world around you is to learn from practical experience. While facts, no matter how convincing, appeal only to the intellect, experience involves the senses, body, mind and soul in their entirety in the process of knowing. That is why the farm is especially warm to host teachers and trainers who want to develop and implement practical educational courses in the field of organic agriculture, soil culture, biodiversity, forest research, environmental protection and in all other areas that can make our world a better place. sustainable and environmentally friendly.

– take care of people and the Earth. The inhabitants of the farm want to develop in each person a sense of care and responsibility for all mankind and the whole planet. On a farm scale, this principle means that all its inhabitants take responsibility for each other, for resources and the economy.

— harmonious and complex maintenance of health. How and what we eat directly affects our health. Life on a farm allows you to maintain a good state of mind and body in a variety of ways – healthy eating, yoga, working with the earth and plants, close interaction with other members of the community, direct contact with nature. This complex therapeutic effect allows you to simultaneously strengthen and maintain physical, mental and emotional health. And this, you see, is very important in our world filled with stress.

Himalayan farming lives in harmony with the rhythms of nature. In spring and summer, vegetables are grown there, corn is sown, winter crops are harvested (if one can even talk about winter in this warm region), and they prepare for the rainy season. With the advent of the monsoons, from July to September, comes the time of tending fruit trees (mango, lychee, guava, avocado) and planting trees in the forest and on the outskirts of the farm, as well as reading and research. From October to January, which is autumn and winter in the Himalayas, the inhabitants of the farm establish a household after heavy rains, repair residential and outbuildings, prepare fields for future crops, and also harvest legumes and fruits – apples, peaches, apricots.

Organic farming in the Himalayas is a place to bring people together so that they can share their experiences, ideas and together make the Earth a more prosperous place to live. By personal example, the inhabitants and guests of the farm try to show that the contribution of each person is important, and that the well-being of society and the entire planet is impossible without an attentive attitude towards nature and other people.


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