In an attempt to accelerate urban-rural connect, HimVikas designs and implements programs in the areas on education, equitable markets, and sustainable living practices. We believe these are the three pillars that take concepts of sustainable development from textbooks and digital screens to the real world.
Situated in and around Kaaya Centre, our programs involve children and young adults in hands-on educational journeys that allow them to internalize and practice sustainable solutions. To promote rural economic wellbeing, HimVikas also facilitates programs that connect rural producers and entrepreneurs directly to urban consumers, who are looking for high-quality, ethically produced products. The first two pillars of education and equitable markets are strengthened by a third: sustainable living practices. We aim to boost appreciation and preservation of nature, including reviving traditional practices in innovative forms to strike a healthy balance between modern requirements and responsible action/consumerism. We specifically look at sustainable living practices as an outcome of all our programming.
HimVikas and the Community
Over the years, we have learned the following things, which has guided our projects and activities:
• Build on community strength is more effective than ‘removing’ problems - HimVikas undertakes activities that build on community-based assets and resources, building on existing skills of women, marginalized, small-scale producers, and rural artisans and link them directly to responsible consumerism through eco-tourism, community-supported agriculture, and experiential learning programs.
• Doing it first and then sharing with others works best: We believe in constantly exploring, experimenting, and piloting small-scale, community-led innovations to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking and finding solutions within in our own neighborhoods first. When communities design, pilot, and find their own solution, they have better probability of influencing issues related to poverty, empowerment, and equity.
Community Supported Agriculture: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) brings together a community of individual growers and consumers who support each other, and share risks and benefits of food production. Our CSA program’s mission is to enhance the viability and profitability of small producers so that they can directly connect with urban consumers to get the price at which a consumer buys from a retail shop. This give and take relationship between the farmers and urban community provides interaction and cooperation. CSA makes way for a win-win situation because:
- Farmers know the needs of the community before sowing and get assured market;
- Consumers get fresh and organic produce directly from the farm;
- There is mutual commitment and understanding of each other’s requirements between farmers and consumers.
HimVikas develops packages of practice of crops that urban consumers need and works with local farmers in the nine villages around Tilwari to adopt organic farming. To further make the process sustainable, HimVikas also uses the farm areas to organize agri-tourism so that the farmers get fair return on their produce.
Outdoor Learning Programs
HimVikas’s educational programs are designed to create an eco-system for outdoor learning that brings one closer to wilderness, environment, local craft, agriculture, and recreational enterprises. In addition to customized programs depending on the group and their age, our standard programs for school and college children include:
- Know Your Food: Children learn farming (planting of seasonal crop) with hands-on experience of ploughing with bullocks; land leveling; furrow making; making manure; seed treatment, and seed sowing.
- Know Your Milk: Children participate in in the dairy cycle; tasks include grass collection; cutting; mixing; and feeding and taking care of the cow apart from learning about the milk collection and distribution.
- Know Your Soil: Children practice pottery from local artisans; differentiate between soil types; understand its characteristics and use; clay modelling, and make products for immediate use in the camp activities.
Eco-Restoration through Community Action: HimVikas works with local schools, community, volunteers, and subject matter experts to draw up an roll out micro-plans for eco-restoration of water sources and landscapes. This effort aims to restore land and water resources and enhance the community’s livelihood through rural-urban interfaces.