Stories of Change

How to really build
a green movement

After 10 years of a fast-paced corporate life, I realized that life is more than just earning money. I come from a small town in Bihar where I spent my childhood bathing buffaloes in the Ganges, helping my parents sow seeds in our farm and playing in the fields. I yearned to go back to my roots. Luckily, around the same time I got a chance to coordinate a permaculture project at The Art of Living Ashram. The site was barren, strewn with boulders. Even weeds did not grow. Within three months, we made it a green paradise under the guidance of our mentor, late Shri Venkatesh. And we managed this without drilling a single borewell. We just used the principles of permaculture. We got a lot of attention from international and national media, eventually making it a tourist attraction.

After the project, I made it my personal mission to share the knowledge of permaculture and other sustainable farming practices. An engineer at Apple built something similar in his village after he spent some time at the ashram’s permaculture site. He is now the sarpanch of his village. A businessman once told me that he will see if whatever I teach works and makes profit for him. He had 90 acres of land and a chiller of 5000 litres. He used to practice intense chemical farming and sell milk. He sold his jersey cows and stopped using plastic bottles. Now, he has a massive set up that he runs with sustainable and green methods.

Even my father who once heavily relied on chemical farming, sold all our jersey cows and bought one desi breed of cow. He started encouraging everyone in the village to use cow dung and not chemicals. The villagers have now asked me to arrange 10 Bos Indicus cows for them. It has become a revolution in my village, a place where even internet has not reached.

It shows that the biggest environmental projects don't happen when governments pool in crores of rupees. They happen with personal efforts of individuals. These projects become contagious and go on to become movements. And in times like these, we need more of these movements. The hard environment facts are all out there. If you want to eat, you will need to grow your food. Lucky for us, agriculture is not rocket science. It just needs hard work like anything else in life.

- Binay Kumar, Head, Ashram Permaculture Department

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