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First, I am thankful to CTC and the organizers who have arranged this event. This was a wonderful event and everybody got a great experience and a thoughtful day.
We woke up in the early morning and came to the place where we started our event, that place was known as VALAM community farm. The fields were large and initially it was hard to walk and to plant the crops. One group of people entered the field, and few others threw the organic fertilizers on the field.
Few of our volunteers plucked the seedling from “Nattarangaal” where the paddy seed has grown for 21 days and gave it to the people who are ready to plant. Since all of us are knew nothing about plantation, one uncle explained us, how to plant the crop in the field. They had good idea for make the plantation easy. They brought the lengthy nylon rope with a stick tied at the two ends. Two volunteers hold the stick at the two ends of the field and made us to stand on the straight line and we planted in front of the rope. One should plant three to four lines of crops.
We have planted some lines and other group of people came and planted the crops on other side of the field and we finished the first field and it was coffee break and all of them drank the “Sukkumalli” coffee. We are energetic now to start work on the other field. Totally we finished three fields and all of us cleaned their legs and hands to eat our breakfast. We had pongal, sambhar, chutney, vada and aaval dish and took group photos and the owner told many things about agriculture and valam community farm, and the event was over. It was my first experience in paddy plantation and i had great experience along with my family.
By, KapilanVeera .E
Write up from Masu
Back to Our Roots is one of the initiative of the Team Ainthinai from Chennai Trekking Club, that gives the platform to engage the volunteers to work in a farm land and understand the methods of organic farming through experts, and obviously the pain of being a farmer and understand the real concern of farmers and agriculture. Nevertheless, Ainthinai makes the event fun too as CTCians loves to work close the nature that is here in form of a farm land.
Many city folks may not know the difference between the boiled rice and plain rice? Have we ever seen the seeds of greens? How about the seed of Paddy? How do farmers plant paddy? These questions does not intend to make you embarrassing of not knowing the answers about rice which is also an integral part of daily food, but to realize ourselves that we waste food daily without knowing the difficulties of processing of it. Moreover, the process does not give the definition of input, add value to input and produce output. This process of making rice depends with nature, water, labor of farmers and planning of crops and fixing the harvest date and controlling the pests. A farmer producing any food from his own field is not only serving our plates in the form of vegetables, Rice but also, he feeds crores of microorganisms in the soil, millions of bacteria, thousands of earth worms and hundreds of birds and countless pests every day in his soil right from ploughing to harvest. So this is a divine process and the output what we get in our plate is divine food (Not just food). Let’s not waste food to give them enough respect to the farmer.
Going to the event day, We have assigned pick up point coordinators in Tambaram East, Sholinganallur and Medavakkam who managed the volunteers from the location and reached the farm in Mambakkam Near Polacheri. Tractor was ploughing the field in hurry when we entered the farm, Valam coordinator – Gopi added the fact that tractor guy supposed to come by yesterday but he couldn’t make it so doing the ploughing in the morning. Though agriculture moves towards machine based tasks still it becomes point of questions farmers has to depend so much on the machine operators and their availability.
Gopi from Valam community farm explained the basic steps about paddy transplantation and volunteers eagerly listened to that. Veppam punnakku ( Neem cake ) was spread across the field to resist the saplings being infected from diseases and kill any bad infection on the soil. Two key volunteers took the rope to both sides of fields to make the marking clearly to the volunteers. Group of volunteers stood straight to the rope and started the planting the paddy saplings – Thooya Malli variety of rice.
This Thooya malli rice is the best choice to anyone who attempts to move to organic from inorganic rice variety at home. The look like ponni , small in size and easy to digest. This variety is one traditional variety that has all nutrition unlike what we buy in shops in the name Ponni which is hybrid variety.
When the team started planting the paddy saplings on the field and moved fast than expected, Thirikadugam tea was served to the volunteers. Thirikadugam means combination of sukku,milagu and thipili ), I really wonder how a tea can be served at the cost of 5rs having all the benefits in it. Yes, GTS trust from Tambaram area serves to 7 different parks in around tambaram this healthy tea for just 5 rupees. We ordered the tea from them to volunteers to have the taste of it.
With the energy of tea, Team continued planting the saplings and group volunteers helped to pull the saplings from mother bed. Kids were really enjoying the field with the clay soil full of water. They were so happy to get themselves dirty.
I was so happy to see the kids playing around and enjoying the farm activities. These little kids keep this stored in their memory and hoping to have the strong thought of farmers and farming later. Respect the parents who made their kids to get dirty by volunteering in the farm. The activity made more fun when the kids were around you and they give the energy to us indeed.
CTS corporate volunteers also joined in the farm for planting; Team moved the next field for work. Few took rest under the Big Mango tree that is irreplaceable compared to any sophisticated Air conditioner. Few volunteers arranged the breakfast – Vada, Pongal and farm coordinator arranged the rice aval and country sugar mix for healthy diet. Kids had fun in eating the natural sugar adding aval in it.
Few volunteers worked for photo when the CTC photographers around us were aiming for a nice profile picture for FB. Few volunteers were tough on the field not even responding or considering the photographers. Few chit – chat and fun topics happened on the mud soil with the lovely Ainthinai volunteers. It was not easy task to do transplantation of paddy saplings, Every row u bend down and plant 4 to 5 saplings and move to the next row, again the routine comes bend down and up for planting saplings continuously for an hour. The regular farmers does the same activity continuously for more than half day. I could not imagine the fitness they need to hold with them. Most of them are women on the field who can do this plantation perfectly. Team was keeping the energy on the field till 10 am and finished the tasks for three fields.
Meanwhile all the kids joined in the empty field for running race and enjoyed in the mud. Team wound up the activities with the great satisfaction of helping a farmer and learning the difficulties of working in the field. We started having the breakfast and closing the event. At the end, Gopi gave us an eye-opening session for about 15 minutes to the volunteers, that covered the importance of doing organic practice of cultivation and difficulties involved in the same. The Valam community farms are now operating two different locations – Singa perumal kovil and Polacheri Mambakkam and also planning to engage few more location in the near future. Also, this team has around 40+ members who shares the expense and workload together and runs the operation of cultivating paddy majorly. Most of the members in their team is working in IT sector. They added, this community tasks gives them satisfaction connecting to farmers and farming in weekends and it would be good place for the aspirants who got the same passion of working in farm lands. We passed our thanks to the team for giving us the opportunities to work in paddy transplantation. And the event didn’t go close for the regular volunteers without doing the mud play and swim in the nice well around us. More than 80+ members joined the event and contributed their time in the special Farmer’s day.
We hope the thooiya malli paddy saplings will grow healthy and faster to give better yields to the Valam Community farms in their harvest. Hope to conduct more events through Back to Our Roots initiative to connect more people into farming and give CTCians a good platform to learn about farmers through such events and practicing their duties. I personally believe that volunteering in the farm location, being a farmer for few hours will make good impact among people towards respecting farmer’s duties. Especially, People will think before wasting the food from their plates after participating in these kinds of events. Thanks everyone for the contribution.