The Weekend Agriculturist

Coming from the small village of Chithirampatti in the Pudukkottai District of Tamil Nadu, I had to face a lot of struggle before finding a job at Thermax in Chennai and settling down in a metropolitan city.

My father passed away when I was young and my mother raised my two sisters and me. I studied throughout in Tamil medium institutions and successfully earned an MSc in Information Technology. However, due to the lack of communication skills in English, I could not secure work in the city for a long time. Eventually, I started my professional career with a governmental project. I secured my life’s big opportunity when I was selected to work for the cooling commercial department at Thermax.

However, I longed to reconnect with my roots which were agriculture and farming in some way. Two years ago, I came across a group on Facebook called ‘The Weekend Agriculturist’ having over 16,000 members. The coordinators of the group are connected to small-scale farmers situated in and around Chennai. When they want to reach out to us for support, these coordinators create an event on Facebook, deciding the place and date. We visit the farms over the weekend and provide farmers with collective labour work through our group of volunteers. We often work in the fields with them from sunrise till 6 pm. This group not only rekindled my passion for farming but also introduced me to my husband Tamilselvan who is one of the main coordinators.

I strongly believe that nature provides us with enough to satisfy everyone’s needs, but certainly not their greed, which is why my husband and I have consciously adopted a sustainable and ecoconscious lifestyle. We have found that giving back to nature can be incredibly fulfilling and fun.

We grow our own food in our organic farm in Alathur, near Chennai, leased together with 10 members of our volunteer group. I cook fresh, traditional foods from our own produce, which gives me a sense of achievement. By posting my recipes on social media, I have discovered that most foodies love traditional food. I also love presenting my organically developed recipes in culinary events and am delighted when people like them.

But, sustainable living is not only about growing your own produce and cooking your food. It is about imbibing eco-friendly practices in everything you do. At home, we always ensure that I minimize waste in every possible way. I like to convert waste into useful products and this is something that I
enjoy teaching to others as well. We like to live plastic-free. Our clothes are produced from organic materials and naturally produced dyes. I love cooking in earthen pots and I also manage my home without modern conveniences, like a refrigerator. We celebrate local art and artists through a popular collective gathering that my husband and I often organize with our friends and families.

With technology taking over every sphere of our lives and detaching us from mother earth, we fervently believe that a person should be aware of where our food comes from and where our waste goes. During our volunteering activities at farms, we also organise debriefing sessions where youngsters are encouraged to care about the environment and learn simple farming techniques like collecting rice from a paddy field. By doing these simple activities, we automatically become one with nature. By living sustainably, I believe that we can give back to the community that we are all a part of.

Thank you for allowing me to share the story of my journey and my thoughts. An important thought that I would like to leave you with is that the consumption choices you make for your family and yourself are the keys to your sustainable lifestyle. In my case, my journey taught me to think, perceive and act in a holistic manner and add more meaning to the world around me. I hope you do too.

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