Outbound Activities at Bhoomi Tiruvannamalai Farm
For any social initiative to be successful, it is important to embrace the community around which its outreach activities are rooted. For the past two years, Bhoomi farmers’ centre in Tiruvannamalai has been providing employment opportunities to a group of women in traditional methods of farming, processing of millets and so on. We have also conducted workshops on health, natural medicines, soap making etc., and today, they have together formed a Self Help Group (SHG) and are making products out of farm produce that are being sold in Santhes and local markets.
While we continue to offer the SHG members various methods to equip themselves, we felt the need to work with children from the local community. With the support of Sivagami, we are reaching out to children from the local government school in Karumarapatti and Manthoppu villages in and around the farm. Twice a week, after school, children between the ages of 6 to 10 (primary school) spend an hour with us where we engage them in folk songs, dance, songs on ecology, play native games and more. We also give them healthy snacks (millet products and cow-peas sundal) made by the SHG members as refreshment.
Children learn to identify seeds, grow seedlings in coconut shells and have conversations around this. We are also exploring how children can be brought to the farm on a continuous basis where they can be allocated a vegetable bed and can have hands-on experience in cultivating vegetables.
It saddens us that most of the children and women in these villages are anaemic. Their staple food being rice with a watery gravy (very little lentils) and pickle, their intake of vegetables or fruits is bare minimum and not nutritious, leading to a host of health issues.
To mitigate this malnourishment at the root level, Bhoomi is engaging with the women from a few households to set up vegetable beds on their farm, where they can grow their own vegetables, harvest the produce and include it in their meals. Bhoomi helps them with seeds, inputs and technical know-hows. There are challenges, as some houses have hen and cattle and no fencing. We at Bhoomi feel that being self sustainable is the best way to get people to include greens and vegetables in their diet regularly and thus be healthy.
This plan is still in the initial stages of execution but we believe it will be a successful community outreach programme.