Samarpanam: Offerings for a Resilient Community
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Parindey: Ksr Dinesh
Alivelihood: Organic Farming and Organic Store
Region: Reddiarpalayam, Puducherry
“My family could not accept my decision to pursue farming. They had moved to the city and hoped for over 20 years that their child would fly out of the country and earn a fortune in the corporate world. It took years for me to experience moral support from the community in what I do.
When it comes to farming and making quality produce available to people, the challenges are varied. The way mainstream markets operate and function is unfavourable to those who work towards sustainability. There are so many differences in the practices we engage in. I see growing food for myself and those around me as a fundamental community activity. I am involved in an activity that is considered non-mainstream, but I believe that the most mainstream activity anyone can do is grow nutritious food and take it to people. Because, everyone has to eat.”
- Ksr Dinesh
Dinesh was born in a village 25 kms away from Puducherry. His parents moved to the city, hoping to provide a good education for their children. They did not want their children to be involved in the same agricultural activities they had been doing for generations. Like most of the middle-class youngsters in his region, Dinesh also ended up studying engineering after school. He found the course to be incoherent with his being, and stepped out of college with a bag full of questions. “How can we have a wholesome approach to education?” “What does it take to build a resilient world and create value for everyone around?” In a quest to understand these better, he extensively travelled and met people from different areas of work. He started travelling to various places exploring organic farming, alternative education, alternative medicine, sustainable community living, and so on. During that period, he found himself more drawn towards working with food and creating sustainable communities.
Having understood the challenges regarding access to healthy and nutritious food, and how unsustainable farming practices were toxic to the environment and the human body, he decided to focus on food and communities. After all, nutritious food is one of the most essential needs for human existence. Dinesh grew up as a small-town kid watching his father travel 50 kms each day to take care of their farms in the village. He believes farming provided them with a decent life and helped his father earn respect in the community. Thereby he decided farming and working on food distribution systems was essential to start with. Belonging to an agricultural household and owning land helped him to move ahead with his pursuit of farming. In 2016, he started practicing organic farming on one acre of land growing moong dal and urad dal. As his father was involved in inorganic farming, Dinesh met with different organic farmers to learn the techniques for shifting to organic farming. Since agriculture is the only income-generating activity for the family, they have expanded their farming practices to four acres of land. Dinesh believes healthy food nurtures the body and ensures a sound mind. When one is healthy, they can nurture the people around them, thus creating a robust community.
The Samarpanam Farmer’s Market evolved as a response to the challenge of nutritious food produce available to people. Marketing organic produce to the mainstream population involves a lot of dynamism. What it takes is constant networking, awareness, and patience. When he approached experienced organic farmers in the area, they suggested that he take on the responsibility of marketing the produce for the entire community. It made sense to him as well. If he had to grow more organic produce in the future, he would need to find a market for it. He reasoned that this would also help the other farmers around him. Thus, Samarapanam started as a simple store in a small room in his house, sourcing produce from a few farmers near Puducherry. He sees it as a community activity, and believes carrying out such an activity to be a social responsibility.
Currently, the store serves fresh fruits and vegetables twice a week on a pre-order basis. Other groceries are available throughout the week. They are attempting to source locally, as much as possible, to reduce the food miles and keep prices under control. Products that cannot be grown locally are brought from the closest growing areas. His store has expanded from one room to the entire ground floor. They remain committed to the values and reasons that motivated them to begin this activity. They are focusing on growing the business by keeping the core values of transparency, traceability and fair price intact. Dinesh is confident about expanding this activity to the larger population over the next few years.
Dinesh believes that buying locally produced goods improves a community's socioeconomic conditions. This practice would foster a positive relationship between producers and customers. Producers will be able to produce more with less capital investment, while consumers will be able to make more informed decisions about what they consume. He envisions a sustainable local community where the majority of needs are met locally. To accomplish this, one must create one’s own bioregion, growing and manufacturing the items they require. The first step is to consume locally grown products. Consuming locally grown products increases demand and helps improve local sustainability. The next step would be to build a local infrastructure, such as food processing plants and value-added industries, to further support these activities.
Even though he was brought up in the city, he is more connected to his village and his community there. Dinesh has a dream of forming a resilient community in the village. He wants the people in his village to be more aware of the issues affecting them: nutritious food, better education and healthy space for people who want to explore different domains. Currently, he is engaging with the youth as well as the children in the village, and wants the true potential of the youngsters to be channelized in the most productive way. He is also supporting them to explore their interests in education through career counselling sessions.
Keeping aside the insecurities, fears, economic and emotional challenges, Dinesh is motivated by what he foresees for his community in the future. Expressing his mission for the coming years, he envisions to build a larger team to run the activities and delegate responsibilities of Samarpanam to the team. The focus on creating better access of nutritious food to the larger population would continue. His approach is to make the best of the resources he has access to. Dinesh sums up by sharing his profound thought, ”the soil is healthy and so are the people“.
Dinesh can be reached out at: email@example.com
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