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Using Animal Poop & Homemade Pesticides, Chennai Lawyer Creates Multi-Crop Organic Farm In Industrial Noida

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“I, Aparna Rajagopal,  live in Noida and farm in western Uttar Pradesh. I was born and brought up in Chennai. A lawyer by training, an artist by nature, a self-taught farmer and most importantly a nature lover, I founded Beejom accidentally in 2014 when I went to find land to board a horse. After leasing too much land it is, I found myself on a charpoy under a Jamun tree in the sweltering heat of August 2014 with Masanobu Fukuoka’s “One Straw Revolution”. I read it like an adventure novel. When I finished, I looked up at the land I had just leased and saw it in a different light altogether. I forgot about the vegetables and grains and fell in love with the soil instead. The last four and a half years on this land has been about me and the soil. Today, Beejom is an institution promoting sustainable organic farming practices, restoring the ancient relationship between animals and farmers while promoting soil & water conservation.

I also discovered Bill Mollison, Peter Proctor, Bhaskar Save, Subhash Palekar and innumerable other people, articles, documentaries, podcasts and youtube videos on organic agriculture and natural farming. Today I follow the best of these practices that are most practical and suitable to our circumstances, climate, resources, location and topography. Four and a half years ago this land was dry and sandy. There were no earthworms, bees and butterflies. The soil seemed to have no life at all. Today, the soil is full of earthworms. Innumerable farm animals including nine breeds of cow indigenous to India this have become part of this farm, and we collect all their manure even though it’s going out of fashion. The cows, goats, chicken and geese all contribute to the manure kitty.

At Beejom today we work with changing the soil. Organic does not mean to just grow without chemicals. To be organic is to work with nature and an understanding that soil health is what determines plant health and therefore building soil is the singular most important activity of every farmer.

So today, Beejom is an animal sanctuary and sustainable agricultural farm located in Noida. We use natural farming techniques and primarily permaculture to grow food. The agricultural practices at Beejom are animal-centric. All the products of the animals at the farm are used to manufacture organic fertilisers and pest repellants for the fields.

At the farm, we save our indigenous seeds too so that we can grow food year after year without buying any seed as far as possible. Therefore planting is mostly done with heirloom seeds. The farm hugely promotes Indian millets and traditional foods.

The farm uses solar power and biogas, uses rainwater harvesting techniques and practices vermiculture. We are completely off the grid. We grow food using traditional systems of intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting and crop rotation. We mulch, compost and use nitrogen-fixing techniques too. Our team of farmers are from seven states across India.

Balloon biogas unit at Bejoom

It is not enough to tell farmers to grow clean food. To do that farmers have to be able to access basic facilities that in urban spaces we take for granted. Education, healthcare, sanitation and other conveniences have to be made available for them so that they can concentrate on growing food. Therefore at Beejom, we have started a school for farmer’s children and a free weekly medical clinic for the farming community around us. These projects are called ‘Beejom Shiksha’ and ‘Beejom Arogya’.

Sustainable classrooms made with farm waste

In the afternoon, farmers’ wives join us for special sessions on skill development. We teach them basic skills of tailoring clothes, lifestyle products like quilts, bags and herb pillows, sustainable alternatives like newspaper bags, bin liners, straws and pencils and many other things. Under this project, we also plan to give the women special skill training on natural farming. We have named this project as ‘Beejom Samudaay’.

We strive to be a model farm and share our learnings with farmers around us as much as possible. We have school children, environmental groups, nature clubs over so that they can effortlessly learn about the world of farm animals and the world of agriculture which are linked intrinsically. The farm also provides a natural platform for children to learn their classroom lessons. It’s much more fun for them and stress-free.

Beejom is a small project with big ideas. It’s about community living and homesteading, kindness and compassion. It’s about making organic a way of life in thought and make sustainability the keyword. It’s about inclusiveness and interactions, creating knowledge banks and sharing freely. It’s about all the many stories of the beautiful journey to sustainable living. This planet needs this now more than ever.”

Also Read: When Everyone Termed It Impossible, This Marginal Woman Farmer Started Organic Farming & Is Now Reaping Benefits

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2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,99,319 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,99,319 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

Share

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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