Time flies by when you are having fun! At least that is what we think has happened these past few weeks into the New Year…
The month of December was lovely. Lots of seeds were planted in the crop rotation fields and kitchen garden, with hopes to have crops of sunflowers, eggplants, palak spinach, tomatoes, cow peas, amaranth and early banana.
So what went on, hey? Well, Raja (the founder of Aranya) planned a trip home to Bihar that turned out to be no ordinary trip in the end. He decided to hitch-hike his way from the farm in Tamil Nadu up to a Gender Freedom conference being held in his home town and organised by his brother who Ride(s) For Gender Freedom, educating people about gender equality. The conference was his Brother’s final stop on his cycle tour and it attracted lots of supporters and curious individuals to celebrate the journey. It was held on the 22-24th of December, 2018 and after a long but very rewarding journey, Raja and his friend, Ramesh, made it to the conference some 3000km away.
The journey began on the 16th of December and finished on the 24th of December, 2018. Raja decided to operate it on a gift-exchange – #Exchanging Kindness for Aranya Eco Village, which meant that when a kind stranger offered a lift or helping hand on the journey, they were exchanged for a stay at Aranya with food and board for 2 nights. We are unsure how many smiles will be seen again, but we are all so grateful for the kindness exchanged on Raja and Ramesh’s journey, helping them travel 2400km.
Of course Raja didn’t miss the opportunity to put the Electric Unicycle to the test – that little rechargeable mode of transport helped them a lot on their way to Bihar whilst also attracting lots of questions and interest. From what we hear, many people tried it out!
Unfortunately, in the first week of Raja leaving Aranya, there was a minor set back created by an unexpected visit from a heard of passing elephants, most probably looking for a midnight snack… They found plenty of yummy bananas in one area of the farm and luckily decided to snack there and carry on moving, we expect, toward the elephant forest.
At first the visit came as a shock, especially to those back at the farm. We have now realised the need for some extra safety measures to ensure visitors and volunteers, as well as all of us, are safe from hungry elephants. We don’t want to stop the elephants from being able to trek through the lands, for it gives them a place to go and also, when an elephant eats, it will shortly after poop, leaving behind elephant dung full of useful fungi and nutrients for the soil. We simple need to mark off some areas they can go. So overall, it was a win-win situation for Aranya and the elephants and it also taught us a valuable lesson about preparing for the unexpected.
At present, Raja is still in Bihar working closely with his brother to help improve the local villages ecology, something we will speak more of in time but whilst he has been away the farm has been bustling with activity. Construction work has kept a good pace with the help of some wonderful volunteers (“thank you all!”). New features such as windows and furniture are being created regularly, helping to bring it all together bit-by-bit.
Overall, it has been a productive start to 2019 and we are sure that it will be a good year ahead, full of experiences to learn from, new friends to make and places to explore.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019 from all of us at Aranya Eco Village.