People Food Music: An Organic Farming Initiative in Tamil Nadu, India
People, Food, Music is a grassroots, people-funded, green movement for empowerment by reconnecting through local food and music.
Tamil Nadu, whether rural or urban is in a crisis – a fundamentally agrarian crisis. On a large scale, industrialised agriculture today is responsible for massive ecological, nutritional and cultural deterioration. This crisis, especially in rural India, represents a loss – loss of sense of place, a sense of community, a deep interconnection with the land, the history and the richness of diversity. What does it mean to have a sense of pride and belonging, an autonomy over one’s home, a Gram Swaraj as Gandhi called it?
This damage to something essential, the understanding of humanity’s relationship to place is mirrored all across the world, in rural and urban spaces, and increasingly, within Auroville. We see the impact all around us, our increasing disconnection from all that makes us fundamentally a part of this Mother Earth. These are complex problems with no easy answers.
Our humble offering through this project is to work with various rural communities, women’s groups, schools, public spaces and villages in and around Auroville. We are also realizing that it is important to connect with urban spaces in Tamil Nadu and wider India through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in companies and small businesses. Whether rural or urban, we aim to reintroduce organic farming through the essence of permaculture, to farm with people and discover one another’s wisdom, to learn traditional ways of cooking and exchange methods of working with local food, both wild and cultivated, cook and eat together and in all this – a celebrate life through music and art.
People, Food and Music: Krishna’s message
“One day my family and I went on a bike trip to my wife’s town. We travelled on the back roads. I was deeply shocked by the dismal state of farming in rural Tamil Nadu.
I decided then and there lessons learnt at Solitude could be directly translated to these villages. By practicing permaculture they could easily use a fraction of the water and grow a diversity of crops to feed their community and make money at the same time.
For example, our fruit and vegetable basket service would be the perfect model to share with farmers. A pre-paid weekly basket of fruit and vegetables for participants in the local community.
The next step was a collaboration with the Sustainable Livelihoods Institute, who focus on bringing sustainability and social enterprises to villagers in Tamil Nadu.
Workshops introducing women’s groups to permaculture began.
After two days of harvesting, creating circle gardens, cooking, eating, making music and dancing, a number of things became clear. The women said we have to start these gardens in our homes and cook these foods for our families.
Reawakening the value of traditional foods, these women are empowering themselves to find local solutions to complex problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
People Food Music is our response to the women’s request for help.
We choose a public space, a school, where the women invite the village to create gardens and turn classrooms into kitchens, cooking traditional foods together. A permaculture festival! A celebration leading up to an evening of eating, singing and dancing. There is joy in doing something meaningful together.
At Solitude, our expression of music is as rich as our soil. The songs and musicians of Emergence are an integral part of Solitude’s power to create this celebration. Our music communicates beyond language.”
From the age 15 to 19 I was in a very unique learning environment. It was there that I was introduced to Masanobu Fukuoka, A Zen Master who referred to himself as a simple farmer.
Everything I have done over the last 23 years has been inspired by him.
Fukuoka perceived that Nature is perfect and there is nothing man can do to improve upon nature. He spent his life demonstrating this insight through Natural Farming. He developed techniques that were non- intrusive. That mirrored nature’s processes.
What Fukuoka told me all those years ago is alive in this farm. Everyday Nature reveals to me her deepest riches. This is what I have to share.
Healthy soil is Mother Nature.