Volunteer at the Bhoomi Farm in Tiruvannamalai

by Parthasarathy

Volunteer at the Bhoomi Farm in Tiruvannamalai

Our India is basically an agriculture based country as it has the right climatic condition and natural resources for growing all around the year!

In recent times, with the climate change uncertainties and to achieve food security with chemical/poison free nutritious food, there is an essential need for ecological alignment. This requires a shift from the current conventional agriculture practices to traditional based, which is nature imitated, integrated and sustainable, farming practices. In nature imitated farming practices, the soil health is retained and improved continuously and naturally.  If you weren't already aware, nature imitated (organic) farming is on the rise.

To reach self-reliance thru food security, current and coming generations of farmers and youths, requires handholding for transitioning into sustainable practices like keeping up of the soil health, water conservation, location specific  - farming, trees and crops cultivations, irrigational options, farm animal integration, economics of farming, knowledge on value added products and by-products, importance of direct market access, importance of local economy and community building.

Bhoomi Network felt the need for a space, which is accessible to young men and women where they can come down, stay, experience and learn by participating hands-on farm activities. This space is what we call as our  Farmer’s Center (Vivasayi Maiyam) farm is located in Chengam Taluk, Tiruvannamalai district in Tamilnadu.

We invite interested participants to our farmer’s center volunteering programs, that offer  through hands-on working along with our farming team.

About volunteering…

  • When do we take volunteers? : Anytime.
  • Minimum duration of volunteering? : minimum of 7 Days
  • Who can volunteer? : Individuals above 18 years of age, interested in hands-on learning in farming by field work participation
  • What do we do? Join in the farm work being done by others, have a circle time for discussions and learning, share your thoughts, feelings and ideas.
  • How much time do we work each day? Volunteer are expected to work at least for 4 hours a day and spend the rest of the time in group discussions/ activity, exploring the space and enjoying themselves!

What we Provide : Nutritious, simple food and Basic accommodation in twin / triple sharing rooms

Charges : gift culture – Pay what you wish to. Suggested amount: Rs. 500 per day. Amount collected will be used for our Women’s livelihood programme.

Contact : bhoomiprogrammes@gmail.com / 9513088861/63

What you can learn

While working hands-on in the farm during your stay, you will get in touch with the spirit of village and farm life in a simple yet holistic way. You will also get to understand:

  • the local ecosystem, soil health improvement methods, water conservation.
  • tree varieties, basics of tree planting and the importance of trees for natural farming.
  • dryland crop cultivation, intercropping,  making raised beds, irrigation methods.
  • preparation and usage of growth accelerators, natural ways to manage pests, “live” fencing, composting.
  • Broadening perspectives of learning; more about holistic and  ecological alignment, even though we have been taught to learn in a linear way in school and college.

Activities at Tiruvannamalai Farmers Center

1. Volunteering in farming

The purpose of this program is to provide easy access to all who are interested in learning farming by hands-on work and discussions on the fields.

  • Weekend programs

Weekend programs are particularly for young urban men and women who want to learn and explore possibilities in farming. The emphasis here is learning by participating in the farming field works and interactions.

  • Internship programs (1 month +)

Internship programs can be for longer periods for those who can take time off to spend a month or more in the fields to learn in a holistic way by being part of our farming field team.

2. Village immersion Programs (3 to 5 days)

The objectives of these short programmes is to provide an opportunity to the urban residents to immerse, experience and sensitize themselves in the social reality of villages and rural life. One gets to stay at least for a day with villagers at their homes. An opportunity to listen, interact and understand their socio-economic and other issues that help or hinder their development.

The participants also get to be involved in the farm work on the bhoomi fields with them and learn farming by doing.

3. Model Farm Creation (6 months+)

This programme is meant for both rural and urban youth who want to get into organic farming. It provides a participant with a one acre plot, food and place to stay as well as inputs as needed. S/he can experientially learn about these sustainable and ecological farming practices:

  • Growing rainfed food Crops - millets, pulses, oil seeds
  • Multi Cropping, Mixed cropping
  • Soil health improvements methods
  • Water conservation
  • Trees growing, Live fencing, Live mulching growing
  • Making of growth accelerators
  • Natural way of pest control practices
  • Animal integration
  • Irrigation methods
  • Community building - self help groups
  • Eco constructions
  • Seeds bank
  • Nursery     
  • And more

4. Women’s Livelihood Programme and Community building

All plants and animals on Earth live in communities. Humans too can live more sustainably with greater wellbeing in local communities and economies, even if interdependence with the larger world has become part of our life today.

This programme initiates processes and offers training and facilitated discussions to support  the self-help group of women from nearby villages. At present this group makes medicinal products with locally available herbs.

We welcome any support with their work of production and marketing or just being part of their activities.

5. Rural School engagement in the vicinity for ecological learning

We all eat food – so we cannot deny that the basic knowledge of growing food is  an essential life skill that needs to be taught in our schools.

Hence the vision of this programme is to connect with schools in the vicinity (and later in the district) to offer children enjoyable courses on organic farming and natural living.

Children learn best when they learn by doing as well as listening and sharing. So such opportunities are being offered at the farm  to help them understand various aspects of farming as well as about conserving natural resources around them.

6. Farming Research and Documentation

Year on year we are experimenting with multi-cropping, mixed-croping, inter-croping, water conservation methods, community projects, value add products to identify and learn the best practices suitable for this space.

Those interested in analyzing and helping to document some of these processes are welcome to join us.