How Her Travels and Experiences Inspired Backpacker Madhu Reddy to Become an Organic Farmer
Returning to your roots after travelling is not a decision anyone takes lightly. Madhu Reddy talks about the journey that inspired her to return to her family farm and convert it into a chemical-free establishment.
My journey towards “change” started many years ago in the United States, when I was working hard at finding a “work-life balance”, as many called it. I took up running, I was introduced to the book Fast Food Nation which gave me insights into the terrible foods served to us by the food industry. Like everybody else with green wishes but not enough time, I did what I could—recycled everything possible and tried to eat the right local foods. I also began connecting some of the dots.
The ‘search bug’ made be a traveller with a mission. While I travelled in search of experiences, travelling just with what a backpack could hold became a way of life. It also led me to deeply value a simpler lifestyle. But being a vagabond without a mission finally got to me, as I was still in that searching mode but not getting closer to what I wanted to do.
I now wanted to travel differently, with a different direction, heading towards a place where I had spent my summers as a child.
The clarity came when I spent time at Bhoomi College as a student of their very first batch. It was a leap of faith on my part (first batch and all), and perhaps for Team Bhoomi as well. Not many have started a college exploring alternative thinking.
The path to change is full of resistance, not only from others who keep questioning your steps, but from within ourselves. Meeting folks like Devinder Sharma, Harish Hande, Dr. Balasubramaniam, and Dr. Nandita Shah and hearing their journeys was enlightening.
For me, my knowledge of the environment, the planet, and how all things connected was there, but I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge. The combination of the place, the people and experiences helped me come to a point where I decided to come back home to convert our family farm to a non-chemical one.
I was convinced that I wanted to reconnect with the space where I had seen my grandparents live such an earthy life.
Since I left in 2013, our farm “Aiyor Bai” has been on the journey of change as well. We completed three full monsoon cycles in 2016 of not using any chemicals in the form of pesticides or fertilizers. I look at the farm and see beyond just “organic”. I want to redesign the farm into a multi-layered, diverse polyculture establishment. Being away from the monoculture that has taken over so many farms made us all reductionists. I took a Permaculture Design course which brought me closer to folks in Hyderabad who have been working on their lands and slowly creating a like-minded community of fellow travellers here.
I never thought that my journey would come full-circle, as my first chosen career was connected to food. Having rebelled, I had gone to Hotel Management School when women were not even welcome in the industry. Now, I was going to be part of the circle with food production. Through my farm, I can help folks understand the importance of good local food, and the impact food production has on our planet, our health, and our soils. Healthy soils equal healthy humans.
First published by The Better India