Suvendhu Das

Since childhood my life has revolved around nature. I have grown up seeing both of my grandparents working in the fields and tending the soil. We had our bulls helping in farm operations and I would be feeding and caring for them. I would bathe in the farm ponds and catch fishes by draining rice fields. After paddy was harvested from the fields, I would be taking the cattle for grazing and picking local fruits when hungry. It was a life which was simple yet satisfying.

Preparing beds in one of our gardens

Pumpkin in Suvendhu's garden

In spite of losing my mother at a young age, I was raised lovingly by my grandparents. In times of financial crisis, my grandmother showed me the art of cooking wild plants growing around. I received the wisdom of our village elders while being with them as a child. These conversations revolved around life, farming, eating, the world outside the village and much more.
I have been inclined towards learning new things since I was a kid. Whenever something interesting happened, I would go there to learn. I observed mud houses being built layer by layer and how the final mud plaster mix was prepared to have mosquito and pest repelling effects. I was always connected with farming. I have leveled fields with tractors, transferred compost piles from homes to fields, operated a harvester machine and also planted timber saplings for a project. Farming being seasonal, after monsoons, I did odd jobs as well. I have done catering work in various places, managed a highway dhaba and lime washed walls. Being the eldest son I had the responsibility of caring for the family on my shoulders from a very early age.

Some harvest from his garden

Fennel which grew unusually tall in his garden

While I did all sorts of things, my inner voice was always longing to go back to nature. My health was also deteriorating due to lack of discipline and routine. I was searching for a means through which I can stay connected with the soil. At the same time, I get bored of doing the same things every day. After meeting Biman and knowing his vision for a better planet for us and coming generations, I too found a means of expression. We both could see how rapidly the rural dynamics are changing and in the backdrop of climate change, how ill-prepared we are as individuals and communities.

Participating in youth Sammelan, 2022

Discussing with our children's parents about our plan

Our priority lies in achieving food and nutritional security by making forest gardens along with conserving biodiversity. We want to use food as a tool for social change, helping people reconnect with nature and understand their purpose of life. For us, forest gardens go beyond food and biodiversity, acting as building blocks for a regenerative, rural economy. We also want to save the existing native trees getting replaced by timber monocultures, increase biodiversity on unused lands and do agroforestry. For us, children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and we are actively engaging with them to stay prepared for the challenges of the coming times. We envision a world where the community cohesion of the old days is rebuilt along with a strong reconnection with nature.