This is a center for learning sustainable lifestyle. It is located on a remote hilltop and has been developed as a live textbook for environmental regeneration, soil regeneration, watershed management and natural farming.
Our family is a growing alternative school. We currently have 4 students living & learning with us, between the age of 18 and 23 years. Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi, the founders of the school are living on campus along with Gautham, the couple's son, his wife Anuradha and their family, including 9 year old Hiranya, 6 year old Parthan and 3 year old Chinmayi.
We work on our constructions all the time. (The idea is to rebuild an alternative learning center. So there are many small buildings) The farm is active most of the year. A master plan for the campus is being done with a few architect friends from another part of the state. They visit every now and then planning replanning, documenting etc. We are also in the process of documenting the flora of the regenerated forest and surrounding areas. This happens every 5-6 months. We hope to start the fauna documentation in a year or two when we have funds for buying necessary equipment. Planting Agave against forest fire, planting bamboo against soil erosion and strengthening our fence with medicinal plants are ongoing activities according to the seasons. We dream of a life learning center. Naturally, we get involved in all kinds of activities and experiment in construction, agriculture, art forms, publishing and so on so forth. You shouldn't be surprised if we are in the middle of some crazy experiment. :) (Like trying out a water-proof roof with waste paper or building a readymade oven with clay)
Check the 'Help Required section for the latest project where you can help.
We would love hands to share the work of building a truly sustainable center for learning.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Volunteers who choose to visit us will have the opportunity to learn a broad range of skills from cooking in a traditional mud built kitchen to construction of shelters and homes made from materials sourced on the farm. You will find yourself in a knowledge sharing environment and learn to find creative solution using materials at hand therefore, the skills you may learn are endless.
We just built a bamboo guest house. We have to finish the following:
1. Mud plastering of the kitchen wall
2. Setting the courtyard and garden around
3. Building a compost toilet
4. Varnishing the bamboo exterior
5. Building a smokefree oven
And on the farm
1. Erecting an electric fence against wild boar
2. Planting of crops
3. Clearing the paths from overgrowth
It will be good to get an idea about the seasons and tasks in general. This is just for reference. Seasons and tasks can change all the time. Read on.
Summer (January - May):
The cool time before the sun really gets up will be used for some hard work. The mornings can start with working on the construction or de-silting percolation pits or check dam. Housework never ends, so you can also choose to help around the house, with chores, cleaning up, cooking etc. The hotter times in the middle of the day, you can use for reading, writing or any other activity that you can do in the shade. After lunch, you can catch a nap. In the tropics, you need the rest. Afternoons, you can again join the heavy work. Any time you spend with the children is always appreciated.
Kind of help needed:
Removing bio-mass from the fireline (against forest fire) and putting it in the farm
Removing silt from rainwater percolation pits and check dams
Harvesting from the farm
(We will update this towards the summer)
Keep yourself hydrated, do not overwork your body, keep your body cool with at least one bath everyday, sing, dance and be merry!
Rainy season (June - August, October):
It will be muddy and slippery everywhere. Be careful when you are walking. Carry a raincoat since we will have work to do when it is raining. Cloths take time to dry, so be prepared.
Kind of help needed:
Diverting rainwater to the percolation pits and farm
Planting the fence and garden
Planting Agave through the fireline
Getting firewood from the forest
Working on sorting documents, photos, etc. sitting inside
We can sit around the fire after a nice bath in the rain! Music and merry always welcome!
Other times (September, November, and December)
It will be all greenery around and temperatures will be comfortable. We have work in the farm, maintenance of the bud houses and some performances outside and classes for college students.
As of August 2019 the top storey of the guest house is ready for occupation. It's a 14 feet x 20 feet hall you can share with other travellers, volunteers or students. There are a few beds available. We can also provide mats and simple bedsheets. Bringing a sleeping bag or blanket will be ideal since the nights get cold. Mud pit toilets are there; a way of enriching the soil. We might have a compost toilet soon. For bathing and washing clothes, we have a place near the well. It's just a few meters down the hill from the Guesthouse. Alternatively you are welcome to walk down to the river some half kilometre.
Food is rice based, vegetarian and home-cooked. There will sometimes be fruit available on the farm but if you need to snack in between, keep yourself stocked from the small town nearby. Boiled and cooled water will be available for drinking.
The centre is run on our income from various workshops we conduct in the campus and in the cities, not on external funds. Some of our books also bring in some income. This is why we charge a fee of INR 400/day from volunteers, which will cover the cost of food and accommodation. Hope we will be able to offer food and accommodation in exchange of working in the campus some time in future.
The main house is powered with a Solar Electric System which takes care of all energy needs. Most mobile networks are available, so you can stay connected. There is a 4G spot from where we work on the internet. If you have an Indian Vodafone, Idea or Jio phone number you can use it for the internet. Please note wifi is not available therefore if you require internet access during your stay it is advised that you organise a local sim prior to your arrival. (We are experimenting with a wifi thingy as of August. We are yet to see how dependable it is and how we can share the expense) Otherwise, internet facility, if needed, will have to be availed from the nearest town Goolikkadavu about 7 Kilometers away.
If you can volunteer for three months, six months or longer, we have a few critical projects that you can help us with. Let us know if you are interested.
We look for a genuine interest in other cultures and earth's future in volunteers. We are basically trying to share simple solutions with everybody around us. You should have the capacity to learn and willingness to share your knowledge. Should be able to live simply. Knowledge of basic communicative English or any one of these Indian languages, Hindi, Malayalam or Tamil is a necessary criteria.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
2 - 4 hours
In developing countries (Where most hosts are involved in charity work or community development) some of our hosts may ask for a small donation to help the host family or charity (often less then 5 dollars per day) Workaway will allow this listing when the donation goes directly to the family or charity and is just to cover the cost of the volunteer‘s stay. (This will be clearly marked on the host listing).
We will strictly not allow listings posted by agents, “middle men” or projects who we feel are looking to profit from a volunteers stay.
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