I attended the National Permaculture Convergence (NPC) 2023 at Aranya Permaculture Farm, situated in Bidakkane Village near Zaheerabad, for three insightful days from November 18th to November 20th. The experience was truly enriching.
A year ago, when I first heard about permaculture, I had no idea it would become a significant interest for me. Two months prior, driven by curiosity, I visited Aaranya to witness a permaculture farm and was captivated by its rich biodiversity. Subsequently, upon learning about NPC, I eagerly registered to attend.
On the morning of the 18th, I arrived at Aranya to a warm welcome with traditional rangolis, peacock features, and roselle flowers at the entrance. Eighty different seeds were showcased around a tree, along with exhibitions of natural products and books. After settling into the allocated tent, I headed to the Amphitheater for the sessions.
The sessions commenced with Mr. Narsanna Koppula's inaugural address, expressing that the primary motivation for organizing NPC 2023 was to bring together individuals interested in and practicing permaculture. Following this, Mr. Vijay Jardhari, a Farmer and Chipko Movement & Beej Bachao Andolan Activist, spoke about the crucial importance of seed saving, emphasizing that one seed has the potential to save the entire world.
Post-tea break, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Ismail, a Soil Biologist, engaged the audience with insights into soil health, the life within the soil, and the organisms contributing to it. His blend of humor, science, and facts enlightened me about the roles of earthworms, termites, and other organisms in soil fertility. The significant takeaway was the connection between soil health and gut health.
Later, Ms. Sangeeta Khanna, a Food & Nutrition Consultant, highlighted the interdependence of food culture and human nutrition. Her comparison of ancient Indian foods with modern ones underscored the importance of consuming local, seasonal, and traditional foods.
In the afternoon, after a healthy lunch, parallel sessions covered a range of topics. I attended Mrs. Sneha Koppula's inspiring talk on "Food for All Life Forms" in the cashew nut classroom. Her passion for documenting the life around her and creating environments that provide food for all beings was truly motivating.
Next, Mrs. Sammama, a teacher and farmer at Aaranya, spoke passionately in Telugu about future foods, questioning the current education system and emphasizing the need to introduce traditional knowledge to children at an early age.
Parallel sessions were followed by a panel discussion and cultural programs. I missed the dance performance by Mrs. Nayantara Nanda Kumar but heard it was moving.
On the second day, at 7 am, Mr. Narsanna gathered participants for a brief meeting to address any improvements or inconveniences. After expressing satisfaction with the arrangements, I enjoyed ragi ambali and embarked on a self-farm tour, observing plants, mulch, fungi, aloe vera flowers, peacocks, ridge gourds, brinjals, and more.
The first session of the day featured Ms. Sabarmatee, a Farmer, Seed Conservationist, and Gender Activist, speaking on "Women, Food, and Culture: Revaluing our daily life." She emphasized the historical role of women in agriculture.
Following her talk, Dr. Avinash Pol, a Rural Social Reformer and Chief Advisor to Paani Foundation, shared the foundation's journey and initiatives on water conservation. His talk highlighted the importance of the right people and education in bringing about change.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Padma Koppula discussed practices in food production, processing, and preserving, emphasizing how effectively designed permaculture provides abundant daily harvests.
During parallel sessions, I attended "Rethinking children’s education with Permaculture" by Team Samam and a social permaculture session, emphasizing the importance of trust and community involvement.
The day concluded with a seed-sharing session among participants and a cultural event by Shilpa Mudbi - Urban Folk Project, offering a delightful experience.
The final day began with a forest walk at 6 am to witness the sunrise. Participants, led by Narsanna, silently enjoyed the meditative experience of the sunrise through the forest. After returning to the farm, Mrs. Sneha Koppula conducted a farm tour, providing insights into plants, buildings, and other informative aspects.
After breakfast, I attended the first session by Utsow Pradhan, Founder of TIEEDI Forest Garden, on "Zero Waste Frameworks for communities and events." He shared his journey into waste management and inspiring stories of TIEEDI.
Following that, I joined the session on "Forgotten Greens" by Ms. Shruthi, who discussed disappearing leafy greens from our diets and introduced leafy greens that were once part of our daily foods.
The closing keynote speech was delivered by Ms. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, covering topics such as seed saving, corporate exploitation, the impact of colonialism on Indian agriculture, and the role of Bill Gates in promoting fake food and GMOs.
I extend my admiration to Narsanna, his family, and the team for organizing such an educational event. The three days passed quickly, filled with interesting people, unique stories, and valuable learning experiences. I believe these experiences will contribute significantly to my life journey.
My personal learnings, three big takeaways from this experience are:
Mr. Avinash Pol, while discussing the early days of the Paani Foundation, highlighted the crucial role of passionate individuals and proper education in driving change. It struck me as true that for any change to happen more than anything else we need passionate people and the right education that brings understanding of the problem and providing tools to solve it. A combination of both these can solve some big problems in our lives.
While viewing the videos and pictures captured by Ms. Sneha Koppula during her session, a delightful realization occurred to me. Recognizing the importance of observing and documenting nature, I understood the pleasure derived from witnessing something in a state of flow. This practice enhances our knowledge about other species.
As a participant in the Social Permaculture workshop, engaging in a trust-building game taught me the significance of actively participating in the game of life. It emphasized the importance of being an active problem solver rather than a mere spectator of events happening around us.
Organo Et School empowers people to embrace eco-living mindsets, behaviors, and habits. We recognize that for any positive impact to be sustainable, it must be long-term and inter-generational.
Organo Et School is a learning initiative set up by Organo in 2017 and has been facilitating field visits and workshops for Schools and Interest Groups. Organo Et School has had over 25+ schools, 6500+ students, and 3000+ adults participate over the last 5 years.
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