The radical goodness of green volunteering and why you must try it
- Enriching and enjoyable as any other holiday (if not more), this one comes without the guilty indulgences of one – at less than half its cost. And a whole other world joy!
If you live in a metropolis like I do, there is (almost) nothing that you can’t buy or experience for a fair bargain. City life, with its heady chaos and frantic pace also ensures that the job gets done. So whatever it is that you want from food and fashion to culture and everything else in between, is available at the click of a button. Fortunately, the list doesn’t cover it all. Some experiences we must seek. Ourselves. It was one such itch to exercise my green thumb (outside the crannies of an urban jungle) that got me scouring the Internet for places where one could spend time on a farm or a garden and Sadhana Forest was an easy choice. An effort by Aviram Rozin and his family, Sadhana is a work in progress to reforest 70 acres of dry land and recreate a tropical forest that was taken down by invaders many moons ago. Unlike many organic farms in the area, this one is dedicated solely to reforestation. Started in 2003, it has already transformed parts of the region and is an oasis in the simmering expanse of Pondicherry, that is as much a healing ground for the environment as it is for the soul. It now attracts hundreds of volunteers from across the world and has grown into a thriving community that lives a sustainable life.
Sadhana is a work in progress to reforest 70 acres of dry land and recreate a tropical forest that was taken down by invaders many moons ago.
Committed to a zero-waste and organic lifestyle, mud, straw and bamboo feature prominently along the landscape with frequent spurts of green. The many shacks in the campus serve as accommodation spaces for volunteers, the kitchen, the common area and a library! You begin the day with a wake-up call accompanied by a musical instrument played by a volunteer and set off to do your forest duties such as watering, digging, mulching, planting saplings etc. Novices, fret not. Almost everyone here is one. The simplicity of the tasks and the infectious energy of the volunteers (even at 6am) make it a pleasant experience – one that reconnects you with the environment, making you conscious of consumption, lifestyle, habits and surroundings. Besides, it is truly something to see an army of volunteers hard at work in the common pursuit of building a forest. The very idea!
It is truly something to see an army of volunteers hard at work in the common pursuit of building a forest. The very idea!
Since it attracts people from diverse backgrounds, workshops are a common feature where one can turn teacher or student – for free – while making the experience a little richer for all. For the environmentally parched urban souls that most of us unfortunately are, Sadhana is a shelter that revives one’s faith – in the Earth’s ability to heal and in our role towards it. The folks at Sadhana put it better when they say, “let there be more forests to grow people”.
“Let there be more forests to grow people”
Sadhana forests accepts volunteers all year round, but December to February is the best time to go.
Looking for more conscious getaways?
There are scores of options for environmental volunteers across the country and the world. Choose a place that best fits your idea of a happy place. Make sure that you communicate with the organization over email or over the phone before you head out. You may want to check out these while you’re at it.
Buddha Garden, Auroville
Buddha Garden is a centre for sustainable farming that produces food for the community in Auroville. It is, need-less to say, eco-friendly and a space that fosters rich cultural and social experiences for its volunteers.
WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), is an international concept that is slowly gaining popularity in India. It is a network that connects farms and volunteers depending on one’s geographical preferences. It’s a great way to live the authentic farm life.
A social enterprise in the picturesque Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh, Ecosphere is a collaborative effort between locals and volunteers towards the pristine region’s culture and nature conservation.
Sushmita Murthy is a features writer with a penchant for exploring topics related to sustainability and a seasoned procrastinator who ironically makes a living by chasing deadlines.