We welcome volunteers and visitors from all over the world to come and stay at Aranya Eco Village. There is always plenty to do, whether it’s helping to construct a new building or feature on the farm, sowing and growing crops, or assisting us running certain workshops, classes and community businesses. The list could go on…
Volunteers and curious visitors have been an integral part of establishing Aranya Eco Village. Our buildings and some of our strategic planning have been shaped by inspiring individuals and groups who’ve shared their knowledge and expertise.
Currently, volunteering at Aranya Eco Village is probably best described as a ‘rough and ready’, but fun experience. This is simply because the accommodation, living arrangements and even the specific type of volunteer work are developing and changing all the time. We provide a flexible work timetable for each week, setting out the objectives but allowing everyone to make it work to their liking as well.
Accommodation: The seasons determine whether volunteers and visitors stay on the farm itself. In the village of S. Thattanapalli, volunteers can either stay at Raja’s rooftop flat or a local bed-stay. All accommodation is in mixed sleeping arrangements. If this is a problem, please get in touch.
On-farm: We now have our geo-dome which sleeps up to fourteen people. Although we use it, it is not fully finished, so we advise people to bring simple roll-out mats and sleeping bags, so you can sleep comfortably in any of the accommodation.
Off-farm: Raja opens his home to volunteers and visitors if either the weather is not ideal for, or individuals are not comfortable with, staying on the farm. There are also plenty of Aranya’s friends who open their homes, or bed-stays, for a nominal amount of money, which serves to support the local economy.
Food and drink: For many years Rajnish worked as a head-cook for a small community in Puducherry, so he enjoys catering for volunteers and visitors. For Rs.200 per day which works out about $3. Raja will provide water and food, both in snacks and meals. We now have a small kitchen unit on the farm and volunteers are welcome to cook their own food. There are little cafes and venders dotted around the local village area too, catering for different diets and preferences.
Bathroom and washing facilities: We are still lacking proper toilets and washing facilities on the farm, as our shower and toilet block are in the making (‘rough and ready’). We hope to have both of these facilities up and running very soon, but for now, it is a case of either wondering off to squat behind a bush or returning to the village where you can use both Rajnish and Bhaktha’s bathrooms.
Organic and permaculture farming: The farm is an organic-permaculture operation. Volunteers are asked to help with farming duties. These can include: sowing seeds, weeding, watering, pest and disease management, planting crops, harvesting crops, collecting fodder for Buddy, Ratha and the calves… and many other activities. We conduct organic and permaculture farming workshops for volunteers, visitors, farmers and particularly those residing in S.Thattanapalli village, and you are welcome to learn at any of these workshops.
Workshops and construction work: Some of the workshops may require you to take a lead role, helping to conduct them and make them run smoothly. Training would be provided. This includes workshops on Natural Building.
The farm is, as we said, ‘in the making’, and much of the current work involves construction. Volunteers are asked to work in any way they feel comfortable with to help our buildings and facilities take shape. This can include: mixing, applying, levelling and sculpting mud or plastering, re-roofing, painting, building with bricks, stone and mud, laying tiles and flooring, hanging shelving and units, constructing furniture and features. This might require using tools such as saws and hammers, but there will be little to no use of power tools. The collection of recycled and renewable resources is sometimes required, and volunteers are asked to help with this.
The whole volunteer experience is a two way process. It is about finding something you are comfortable to do, that is also helping Aranya’s progress. There’s always something to be busy with and it’s a case of finding what you enjoy doing!
Community businesses and sharing your skills: We’ll soon be opening the first community business, a weekend cafe that will promote healthy eating and local ecological tourism in the village of S.Thattanapalli. Small duties such as collecting ingredients, preparing certain dishes and pot-washing may be requested.
Part of being at Aranya involves sharing your skills and learning new ones. If you are skilled in certain crafts, are great at crunching numbers, or even just know how to play the didgeridoo, we’d love to learn from you! We operate by promoting free knowledge and information sharing. All of our resources will be freely available through the internet.
We do our very best to minimise the use of toxic chemicals and unstable materials. Volunteers and visitors are made aware of any risks involved in each activity undertaken and are briefed on general health and safety, for both on and off the farm. Ensuring volunteer and visitor safety is of upmost importance to us. Volunteers will be asked to sign an agreement that you have been made aware of the risks and provided adequate information, instructions and practises that can protect you from those risks and keep you safe and healthy. We make it our priority to ensure volunteers and visitors are happy, healthy and safe in their time at Aranya Eco Village, if you have any concerns, please share them with a member of the team.
What to pack
Clothing: The farm is located in a high altitude, hilly area which brings low temperatures at night time and some chilly breezes, particularly at some points in the year. When enquiring about volunteering, remember to ask for weather specific recommendations. We will always advise you to bring some warmer clothes, even a fleece for night time.
The volunteer work often means you’ll be getting your hands dirty or on your feet for quite a long time, so bringing some old clothes and comfortable shoes are advised.
Farming duties we advise gardening gloves and a hat.
Staying health and happy: Fortunately, Aranya is situated in a low-risk area for Malaria, but we still recommend taking precautionary measures, especially preventative ones, such as repellents. The risk of Japanese Encephalitis is increasing in Tamil Nadu itself but although the risk remains low in our specific area, it should not be ignored.
Wearing long sleeves, using citronella, neem oil and, if preferred, deet and other chemicals, are recommended to reduce the chance of mosquito bites. Although the farm is located in a low-risk area, we recommend you are fully informed, understand what preventative measures are available and feel confident in your route to protecting yourself against malaria and other vector borne diseases. Some options include pharmaceutical tablets, whilst others are dietary and supplement based, homeopathic and Chinese Herbalism, and practical and material measures such as mosquito nets.
Due to certain requirements by the Indian government, depending on your residential or prior location, you may be required to have certain vaccinations before your arrival into the country, and you may personally feel more comfortable using vaccinations as a preventative against certain communicable diseases, such as Hepatitis A or B and Tetinus. For more information, click here.
Sleeping and Living Facilities: As we mentioned previously we recommend bringing at least a sleeping bag or equivalent, maybe a roll out mat or enquiring about our availability before you arrive. Sleeping materials can easily be purchased at the local market, so if you decide to come part way through your trip, don’t worry! We do not prohibit the use of any personal hygiene and cosmetic products, but ask individuals to be aware of the environmental footprint of the product when using them. We make our own natural soap and shampoo products, so these are available if wanted.
Valuables: There are a couple of options for keeping your valuables safe. We have a locked trunk system and also Raja can lock valuables away at his home.
- Your passport or personal identification documents
- Proof of valid visa or residency in India
- Your email confirmation of your visit to Aranya Eco Village
- Be willing to discuss any outstanding health issues or special requirements that can be accommodated for in your time at Aranya Eco Village
Upon arrival at Aranya Eco Village, you will be asked to complete a few standard forms and read and agree to our volunteer policies and agreement.
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