Magdalena and Sagar have spent 3 month with us in Berlin on the global field exploring the potential for an Indian-German collaboration around the 2000 m² idea. Now they have just arrived in Navdanya, an organic and diversity rich flagship farm near Dehradun, in India, where they will spend the next 3 months. We just received a first letter from Magdalena, with first impressions from Delhi and Dehradun.
After a 12 hours easy but sleepless journey I arrived in Delhi. My first step outside was a real choc for me, at 4 in the morning it was really warm and humid, I hadn’t expected that!
My internship partner Sagar and his friend Venu were waiting for me, so that I didn’t have to get a taxi on my own. On the way to Venu’s family’s place, I could already see what I had expected to see: a lot of people everywhere, cars, selling boots alongside the road, cows walking smoothly on the road, … We stopped to have a chai tea (this spicy and very sweet milk tea) from a very small kind of trail at the side of the road and I just thought to myself: here I am, this is India!
We stayed with Venu and his family for 3 days, I am very grateful to have had that kind of start of the second phase of the internship, as I felt very welcomed and comfortable from the beginning. Delhi was hot, crowded, full of colours, scents … We visited a few parks and gardens, the family even has a garden on the roof of their house, with herbs they use for cooking but also with flowers used during their worship. Urban gardening and “green Delhi” as its finest!
Sagar and I took a night train to reach Dehradun (in the state of Uttarhakand), the closest city from Navdanya, the centre we are going to spend the coming 3 months. The journey went very fast, as both of us were able to sleep on the train, which has several compartments with 3 layers of beds.
We finally reached Navdanya with the local bus, which enabled me to get a good first glimpse of the region, its buildings, its inhabitants and its landscape.
Navdanya is a harbour of peace, very green and surrounded by a mango orchard, and mainly rice fields. The Navdanya Farm is an organic training centre, which focuses on small scale farmers, offering them free classes and workshops evolving around organic farming. Since 1991, more than half a million farmers from different parts of India have been welcomed here, bringing back home the knowledge obtained here and for some of them changing their way of farming.
Volunteers from all around the world and from different backgrounds come and spend some time of their life to help out with several activities, from weeding, sowing, planting or storing seeds in the seed bank. They also maintain common areas clean and share thoughts about our role as global citizens to take care of our planet Earth, including Nature itself but also every single Human being.
Navdanya is a partner organisation of the „Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft”, as it also has an experimental field of 2 acres (4000m²). The difference between the field in Berlin-Pankow and here is the purpose it has. In Berlin the open air exhibition serves as a display to visualise the way our planet Earth is being cropped and to give an idea of the impact our way of consuming has on the Earth and its ressources; regarding food, textile and transportation energy consumption.
It goes from consumption to the soil, it brings awareness about the link between the food being consumed and its starting point. On the opposite, the field at Navdanya has the aim to demonstrate a certain way of cropping these 4000m² in order to get a varied and nutritious yield. It could be used by a farmer wanting to farm as well as possible without any chemicals on a small plot of land, producing enough food (pulses, vegetables and herbs) in order to first sustain their family as well as selling the surplus on local markets. The soil is therefore the starting point of this field, leading to the production and the selling of foods.
Besides being a training centre, Navdanya also offers courses for anybody interested in learning about agroecology for example, but also works with seed saving, welcomes school classes for an entire camp week, does some research about different kinds of vegetable adapted to various climates, has a soil laboratory … One of my favourite part so far is the cuisine here, which is solely vegetarian food with ingredients mostly grown on the farm or bought from cooperating farmers!
Both Sagar and I are very happy to be here, for the second time for his part, which is very practical as he can explain a lot and made my arrival very simple and easy.
Namaste from India! Magdalena