Time flies, soon we’ll have stayed here for more than a month! Every day we learn new things, either in the morning by helping out on the fields or around the campus, or in the afternoon during one of the learning sessions, or by simply talking with the other participants and reading books. At the moment we are 8 “Bijaks” (seed saviour in Hindi), coming from India, Europe or the United States and of different background and age, the Navdanya farm itself counts approximately 20 people working here throughout the year.
Lemongrass tea is prepared for the early birds, but the day’s first unofficial gathering is at 8 p.m. with breakfast, which mostly consists of rice, a dal (a kind of pulse soup) and fruits. Mangoes were ripe when we arrived at the beginning of August, at the moment we usually get bananas. Sometimes the cooks surprise us with pancakes or porridge…
At 9 a.m. is the morning circle, during which we start the day together with a short song, listen to a quotation and get ready for the day by playing a game for example. Any updates or announcements are discussed here as well. After that we clean the common areas (we do the Shramdaan, as part of Gandhi’s philosophy), before starting to work at 10 a.m. . Up till now we’ve been weeding rice and millet fields, weeding the herbal garden, sorting out basil leaves, weeding around the campus, harvesting maize… During the monsoon period there is not much more to do, all the plants grow, the harvest period starts at the end of September!
The morning work is rhythmed by the tea break at 11 a.m., which of course involves chai tea, this black tea prepared with cardamom and milk, which most people add sugar to. At 1 a.m. lunch is being served, usually a salad made out of any kind of sprouts and cucumber, rice, dal, a vegetable stew (with vegetables and potatoes usually) and chapati (these round, light and flat breads).
At 3.30 p.m. we’re all ready for the afternoon session, during which we learn about composting, natural pest repellents, medicinal herbs or soil for example. It makes one very curious about the plants that we are surrounded by, they all have their own properties, Western societies tend to have forgotten about it!
After a tea break most people play volleyball, which is a very nice way of getting to know the staff working here. Dinner is prepared for 8 p.m. and is very similar to the lunch (so very good, filling, hot and spicy!).
Most of the food is being produced and prepared on the farm, the main purchase from outside the farm being salt. There is no need to worry about where the food comes from nor about the content of your plate. Navdanya does not use any chemical fertilisers nor pesticides, the milk comes from 3 cows living on the farm itself, and no meat is being prepared here. Knowing for sure where one’s food come from is such a good feeling, the best way of knowing it is to grow one’s own plants. Why not start at home in the kitchen, growing tomatoes from self-collected seeds or with a pot of some herbal plant?