‘Aiyor Bhai’, located at the outskirts of Hyderabad, is an organic farm built on permaculture principles. Run by Madhu Reddy, the ancestral farm has completed 3 full monsoon cycles of not using any chemicals in the form of pesticides or fertilizers from the time they went organic in 2013. The inspiration and the clarity to pick up the organic mantle came from the time she spent at Bhoomi College doing the Sustainable living course.
Through its courses and workshops, Bhoomi has brought together individuals and communities to learn, share and engage with each other, with a focus on ecological living on our planet. The lush green campus has an ashram-like ambience and promotes simple living and wholesome & nutritious eating.
The curriculum provides ample room for engaging and reflecting, and is fluid to accommodate any emergent issues that are discussed during sessions. Hands-on projects and relevant field trips enable further search and enquiry. Working in a community setting is high on priority– collaboration, consensus building and shared learning are experienced first-hand. During the process, the participants discover answers to key questions such as “What my strengths, my abiding interests, and what drives me?”, “What is holding me back and how do I mobilize support of others to help me?”
Understanding the interconnections in Sustainability
At Bhoomi, the coming together of a group of participants & facilitators from diverse backgrounds, offers a wider view of social and environmental issues. Participants are able to recognize the underlying connection between various global and ecological crises such as poverty, environmental degradation, urban issues, wildlife and climate change.
The sustainability program focuses on root level issues and on positive initiatives that are actionable at individual and collective level. The exposure can enable one to take up a green career as an entrepreneur, or work with NGOs and other organizations.
“A teacher is a guide on the side not a sage on stage”
The Holistic education (HE) course deals with child-led open learning methods and enabling oneself to become a creative facilitator. To move away from achievement-focused learning to a holistic approach, a shift is needed within the teachers themselves. This is enabled through sessions on understanding behavior, brain science and respecting the diversity of learning styles among children. Participants also learn about the importance of various approaches to learning – about theater which can enhance learning, multiple ways of presenting content to children, conversations and circle time. The focus is on a subjective building of the identity of the facilitator, not on objective content alone.
Giving clarity to their thought process through Internships
The 3 month internship period allows students from both these groups to ground their insight into real experiences. It also gives time to work through their long term direction and goals thus enabling them to walk on their path of intent.
Some of the alternative schools in which the HE students intern are Bangalore Steiner school, Gubbachi, Valley School etc. Equipped with the experience at Bhoomi, our students have
- Transformed a mainstream school into an alternative school in Indore where several ideas of sustainability living are also applied
- Joined schools like Gubbachi, a learning community for the disadvantaged Out of School Child (OoSC) from migrant communities.
- Joined as facilitators in alternative education schools like the Prakriya Green wisdom school, the Marudham farm school and Paatashaala in Tamil Nadu.
The students of the course on Sustainability have become change-makers in eco-farming and urban environmental issues.
Madhu Reddy, Lakshman and Bobby Reddy have become organic farmers. Manvendra, concerned about government policies that are not supportive of farmers and organic agriculture, is working with Greenpeace as a Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner.
K P Singh, another alumnus of Bhoomi, transformed from a Telecom Engineer into a Water Conservation Expert. After attending the programs at Bhoomi he devoted his time and energy to caring about clean water and air, and safe food. Currently he works on issues of water treatment & recharge and taking responsibility for better governance by committing himself to initiatives like Swaraj Abhiyan.
As the quote goes “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”, Bhoomi College offers the learning, spaces to experiment, a network of experts and practitioners and above all a supportive expanding community to carve your path toward an ecologically-wiser world.
Feature Image courtesy Bhoomi College