Singing paeans to an organic harvest

Singing paeans to an organic harvest

HARVEST TIME:  A farmer proudly showing off his harvest of ragi crop. Photo: Vijay Pandey

Vasantakaladalli aaduva modagala yentha bedagu (The clouds that prance around in the skies during spring are so beautiful) Yelli hodavu, kannige kanadaadavu (But, where have they disappeared? we can barely see them)

Snuggled amidst the Kolar hills, Vemgal village resonated with drums and songs. The occasion was Suggi Sambhrama, or the Harvest Festival organised by Free Tree Commune (FTC) recently. The light drizzle did not deter the farmers, and the audience assembled there continued with their festivities, and discussions on organic farming.

The collective effort of women’s group Vimochana, Bangalore Film Society, CIEDS Collective, FTC, a youth group called Samvada and organic farmers’ group Era Organic culminated in the organic farming harvest festival held in Kolar.

“We celebrated the first harvest of our organically grown ragi crop,” says George Kutty of the commune.

“It is a celebration of freedom, leisure, serenity, beauty, nature- these are some of the ideas that the Commune believes in. We’re growing brinjals, chillies, tomatoes, pomegranates, papayas, mangoes, gooseberries, bananas and potatoes organically.”
Angala, the women’s counselling centre’s vernacular architecture Kuteera, a shelter for abused women, was the venue of the festival.

Shanta of Vimochana was very vocal about the importance of growing organic foods, which is not only nutritious, but also sustainable. The fragrance of the freshly ground ragi rolled into a mudde (ball) and the vegetables filled the air.

‘Going organic only answer’
“Organic food is the only answer to the sustenance of the planet which has been destroyed with too much of pesticides,” emphasised H R Jairam, an organic farmer who has farms at Neelamangala and Kodagu.

“We will be swamped by multinational seed corporations if we don’t alter our farming techniques,” he adds.

Collective efforts towards self-sustenance in farm produce and energy will go a long way in removing hunger and reinforcing democratic values, he asserted. He has been the Secretary of the  Farmers’ Federation of Karnataka and an active member of the Savayava Krushi Chaluvali for the past 12 years.  

Storing harvest at Kuteera
The festival, Suggi Sambhrama, is a traditional form of celebration for farming communities, explains Ranganath of Neelamangala. Farmers store the harvest at the kuteera constructed at the venue, also called gudisalu in Kannada. “Free Tree is inspired by the Persian name,  Azad Darakth, for the Neem Tree, an important ecological source of healing in India and the Asian continent, which was sought to be patented and rendered the private property of a few multinational corporations. It is our metaphor for a new way to learn, to know,” adds Kutty. The Free Tree Commune (FTC) started six years back as an Open University where people discuss matters of crucial importance and act on the wisdom of organic farming and issues of concern. Some courses are also held for students.  

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