HHH students--example of summer internship project--Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, India

From Claire Stoscheck, Internship at Navdanya, Dehradun, India

In 2015 Claire Stoscheck interned with the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm near Dehradun, India. Navdanya is an internationally recognized food sovereignty organization focused on protecting nature and people's rights to knowledge, biodiversity and food, and which pioneered the seed saving movement in India in response to the devastating social and ecological consequences of the Green Revolution. Navdanya has set up 111 community seed banks, trained over 500,000 farmers in sustainable agriculture, and helped setup the largest fair trade organic network in the country.

Claire reports: “My internship focuses on supporting Navdanya in their agro-ecological experimental conservation farm and seed bank. Navdanya runs this farm in order to recuperate hundreds of indigenous seeds and reintroduce them to Indian farmers, as well as to educate farmers on the benefits of organic agriculture and biodiversity. Navdanya also has a soil lab and a commercial kitchen in order to teach farmers how to create value-added products such as pickles. I’ve been working alongside experienced organic farmers and expert seed savers, learning from them as we work by informally interviewing them. I’ve learned how to grow rice using the SRI method (Sustainable Rice Intensification), a method which produces ~150% of the yield and only uses ~30% of the water as conventional paddy rice. I contributed to Navdanya’s experimental plots (where they are experimenting with different poly-cropping systems) as well as to the seed bank, where Navdanya stores more than 710 indigenous rice varieties along with hundreds of varieties of wheat and vegetables, and plants them annually so as to let them adapt to climate change. I learned a great deal about herbal medicine, Indian culture and even the spiritual side of farming. I also participated in some of Navdanya’s rural economic development work by participating in cultural eco-tourism in the small agricultural town of Barasu, where we learned about indigenous mountain agricultural systems, which are spear-headed by women. Much of the learning that goes on at Navdanya occurs between interns, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about sustainable agriculture and food movements from interns from all over the world, as well as to teach about U.S. food and agriculture, community organizing for food justice, and even dance. Dr. Shiva, world renowned author and the founder of Navdanya, visited us in late June and I got to ask her about balancing grassroots organizing with national policy work. I’ve learned an incredible amount from Navdanya staff, the farmers, and the other interns, making this internship experience both formative and unforgettable.”
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