After 10 years of corporate life, I had a realization - that life is more than just earning money. Corporate life is running on coffee and cigarettes, sinking into the office on Monday, and coming out on Friday. But I come from this small town in Bihar. I spent my childhood bathing buffaloes in the Ganges, helping my parents sow seeds in our farm, playing in the fields. I yearned to go back to my roots. Then, I found the perfect job. 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 there. Within three months we made it a green paradise. All with 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 so much attention from international and national media that it became a tourist attraction.
I don’t think the biggest environment projects need the government putting crores of rupees. They, rather, need individuals doing something on the individual scale. Such a project becomes contagious. I have seen this happening with our permaculture project. So many people have found inspiration with the learnings of this one project. Once, a businessman told me 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. Used intense chemical farming. He removed all that. Sold his jersey cows. Stopped using plastic bottles. Now, he has a massive set up that he runs in a sustained way. In another instance, an Apple engineer decided to leave his job and setup something similar in his village after he spent some time at the ashram’s permaculture site. He is now the sarpanch of his village. One of my happiest moments was when it all started in my village. My father, who once heavily relied on chemical farming, sold all our jersey cows and bought one desi breed of cow. He started telling 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!
One day, it so happened that I was talking to one of the groups in the Ashram and someone recorded it and put it on Facebook. The video got a million views. I did not expect anything like that. I did not put the video in the first place. Now, no matter which state, which place, which metro I go, who I meet they just know about it. Just yesterday, I was walking out of the Ashram dining hall and one couple stopped by and said, “Thank you very much for the video. Now every time I tie the kitchen waste in the plastic bag, I just remember the part where you say the waste you tie in the plastic bag and throw away does not go to the moon. That it stays on Earth. So I open the bag, throw the decomposable waste at one place and the plastic waste at another. That is how I have got impacted through your video. - Binay Kumar, Founder Member, Ashram Permaculture Project