Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Nelamane is a village that never had a car pass by. Today, the women, youth, and the animals of this little village are feeding healthy food to two thousand urban families.
Many of us live in cities. Our food comes from villages. Many urbanites imagine villages as shown in Bollywood, you know, with animals sunning in grassy fields. Sure, our villages are beautiful. However, the food you pick up from the supermarket and put into your grocery cart doesn't always come from happy
animals and happy plants. Industrial farming has drastically altered the agricultural landscape. These days, livestock rearing looks much different than it did a hundred years ago. Many folks in cities do not know this.
Now, "farm" animals are all in cages. The relationship between farmers and their animals has changed. Animals are fed chemically modified, hormonal food and are put on strict feeding schedules. They live in crowded, windowless sheds and coops that barely allow them to move around. And they are forced to breed.
Many urbanites may not know this, but cows and bulls eat plastic and die on the streets - unfortunately, it is a common sight these days.
How are we different? In every single way. First, all our animals at Grassroots are rescued from shelters. But why were they abandoned in the first place? Not because farmers are cruel. Not because farmers do not love their animals, it is due to the simple reason that many farmers are not able to take care of them. Why? Well, most young people in Indian villages are migrating to cities in search of jobs. Farm animals--once the most pampered, are now homeless.
Let us introduce you to how we take care for our animals here at Grassroots. These are abandoned animals. And we have created a home for them. Most of them were stick thin before we found them. These days, this is what a day in the life of our animal buddies look like:
They all wake up at 3 AM (which means we wake up by 2 AM to take care of them). We clean their shed and give them a good shower.
First things first, breakfast, of course: A hand-made mix of our own oil cakes that is extracted from our oil making with a side of millets husk and a pinch of jaggery and salt.
After this, they are free to roam around till 4 AM, and we milk them-- leaving enough for the baby calves. We take milk only when they are done with their share.
Next? Some more food. For brunch, fresh green fodder and silage is ready. They eat this combined with monocots and dicots, and they also drink plenty of water.
After rest and play till 9 AM, they work till 12, rest, have lunch, and their friends take over work for the next batch of oil making.
Why is this special? According to the Indian Agriculture Census, the average landholding size has declined from 2.28 hectares in 1970 to 1.16 hectares in 2010. In simple words, it is hard to be a farmer today. There are no jobs in our villages, and our animals are homeless.
In short, here's why we exist: