In the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi started the Sabarmati ashram to teach people the importance of self-reliance. Working on the same principles, Ambrose Kooliyath started Farmer’s share. With his futuristic ideas for a sustainable lifestyle, Farmer’s share encourages people of all ages to work with them and taste the sweet fruit of labor.
Ambrose Kooliyath – Founder of Farmer’s Share
Ambrose Kooliyath, a 12th standard graduate, always believed that the world outside the classroom would teach him more than the one confined in the 4 walls. He started working as a mason at 15. While taking part in a movement called Swasraya Vijpen, he put forth the idea of self-reliant labor.
And after working as a mason for a long time and gaining 30 years of experience in farming, Kooliyath had many ideas related to employment and education.
So after borrowing a piece of land from a friend, Kooliyath founded the Farmer’s share. Situated in Thrissur, Kerala over 10 acres of land, Farmer’s Share offers activities like pottery, farming, working on the mills, etc.
Much like Mahatma Gandhi, when Koolyathi first began his journey, he introduced the production of khadi, farming, pottery, and stitching as some major activities. He states that the entire farm is based on the Gandhian concept of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Here the necessities of life are food, clothing, and shelter. They teach the students to be self-reliant in all these necessities of life.
Farmer’s Share: Source of life skills
Children can gain education from school, but there is no school that teaches basic life skills. Therefore Kooliyath took his kids out of the conventional school system and homeschooled them. Students from college and some teenagers often visit the farm and learn skills like pottery and farming. However, not everyone can be a potter, but making them sit in front of the wheel forces them to let their creativity out.
They teach the students how to live life for a purpose, rather than living for the sake of money. Kooliyath says that this farm is a way to get the students out of the rat race and bring them close to nature.
Because of the huge educational and economical divide, we often look down on professions like farming. The respect for farmers has to be restored. Farmer’s share works towards this very cause. Just because a farmer might be illiterate does not make him/her any less worthy of respect.
Products of Farmer’s Share
Their farms are always filled with jackfruit and mangoes. They ensure that every product that is made is organic and made from their farm produce. Nothing goes waste at their farm. They use even the weed that grows beside the plants for making dyes. No part of nature is left unused.
Products like tea, concentrate, jam, honey, and dyes are specially made out of hibiscus. This plant is given preference because it is easy to grow and requires less care. Hibiscus is also less prone to pest attack, which makes it easier to maintain. The same goes for Tulsi.
Along with teaching and working on life’s necessities, Farmer’s Share also ensures food security for the neighboring villages. Their aim is to create a village where the community survives through farming and a sustainable lifestyle. This way people would respect farmers while protecting the environment.
Farming does not only mean growing the product, it also means selling it for a fair price. And we all know that most of the farmers face difficulties in marketing of their produce. Farmer’s Share also assist neighbouring farmers in selling their produce. They not only sell their produce at a fair price, but also help them in multiple ways.
Ambrose Kooliyath and his entire team are working towards the advancement of rural areas, gaining respect for farmers, and removing the barrier that is class. Farmer’s Share is one of the few initiatives that is working with the goal of sustainability rather than monetary benefits.
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