Welcome, swagatam, to Act Naturally which in Hindi translates to kudrati karma which literally means Nature Karma. We are a global organization made of members just like you who are against privatizing the earths resources, both physically and psychological, for profit. We at Act Naturally believe that food security must be enforced by our own hands and efforts so we know from seed to table what is in our food.
We provide information, facilitate public speaking events and help create mobilization groups to disseminate knowledge on the dangers in privatizing farming and food. We also designed our programs to provide relief and support to farmers on the brink of starvation or suicide. With our Khet Jyoti Fund, friends of Act Naturally can donate money toward debt relief to help transition farmers from chemical high input agro pollutant agriculture to organic self reliant farming techniques that unbind the farmer from the debt cycle.
When we return our priorities and our focus back to nature to find solutions, mankind will naturally shift from dominant models that control, molest and profit from nature, like those models that take toxic “short-turnaround” for profit “short-cuts”, corruption and pollution, to lasting and sustainable, village republics with farming as important as Internet Technology and the health of the people reflected in a nations relationship to its farmers, farming, land and resources.
Act Naturally has Six Goals
To increase public awareness of organic agriculture and biodiverse farming practices, nutritional appropriation by industry, and issues in national food security. As part of this goal we are producing a documentary called Kunrati Karma in 2012. This also includes promoting urban farming, community gardens and seed saving for the urban dweller through our Grow Your Own India initiative.
To work with local farmers, volunteers and national and local governments or panchayats to facilitate the transition to sustainable organic agriculture and seed saving by providing workshops, transitionary funding and volunteers
Organize campaigning to shift government policy toward national promotion of organic agriculture. With national support we feel farmers will be able to secure additional financial and technical resources to reduce hardships caused by reduction in yield as they transition to organics. They will also have support for greater market access.
Facilitate farming exchange cultural tours that place volunteers in participating farming communities to work during critical parts of the year. Participants will enjoy homestays, cultural activities, guest lecturers, herb walks, treks, and region specific foods. Money made from these tours will support the Khet Jyoti Fund and operational expenses.
Create linkages between the farmer and the consumer by creating organic markets through increasing public awareness campaigns and launching our branded volunteer and locally managed “organic” certification called Village Republic Organics. Our standards build from existing USDA, but are enforced at the local level without a cost to the farmer. Products branded with this label will be sold online, at farmers markets and in Indian-owned shops. A percentage of the profits will directly benefit the village farmers who grew and produced the product.
Provide debt relief to the farmsers in the hardest hit regions of India’s suicide belt, enrolling them in a four year remediation program from chemical to organic regenerative sustainable agriculture. Once the principal balance is paid down to an acceptable level that will not cause further hardship or the debt is completely paid off, Act Naturally will work with the fartmer to transition to organic farming by providing seed stock for the following year, training and additional infrastructure needs.
Act Naturally has five key programs that are member and donation supported in order to achieve our mission:
Khet Jyoti Fund
Farming Cultural Exchange Tours in India
Act Naturally Ashram Farm and Community Garden
Act Naturally was started by Lua Cheia, the daughter of a tree farmer in West Virginia. She was a farmer in Northern California and is a yoga and Vedanta student, writer, and activist. On her first visit to India, exploring the culture and studying yoga, she stayed at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in New Delhi and the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh. She was struck by the lack of quality in the ashram food and the lack of awareness in food sourcing.
She felt a strange irony in the idea westerners have of ashrams being a place of respite, reflection and healing, set up for the student to learn and practice mindfulness, including mindfulness in eating, verses the actual reality of India’s farming and food sector. Upon interviewing the kitchen staff and coordinators about their knowledge on the food quality and sourcing, she realized there was a passiveness, even at times an ignorance to the outside influences shaping the prana of the food they were preparing and injesting. Meanwhile, outside of these Ashrams were skin and bone children with their mothers begging on the street, next to scaffolding built outside of a future Cafe Coffee Day.
Lua went on to interview swamis, farmers, farming groups, activists, ayurvedic doctors, shop keepers, new friends and native families about food, their relationship to it, and where and how it gets to their tables. She read books, visited farms and connected with N.G.Os already working on this issue. What she found was a dramatic cultural, and health shfit in India, that began in the 60s with the quick fixes of the “green revolution” and the influence of western industrial agriculture.
- massive migrations of farmers from their land to the urban centers;
- a massive increase in denatured bleached wheat, sugar, and pasteurized dairy and juices coinciding with an epidemic of diabetes, preventable degenerative diseases and cancer;
- chemical preservatives and dyes used in packaging of food;
- a swarm of western brands;
- the abandonment of traditional medicine for pharmaceuticals;
- and a large scale turnover of traditional farming techniques including those using night soils, cow manure, seasonal flooding, and seed saving for input intensive foreign dominated chemical and hybrid seed agriculture that has within fifty years created a public health catastrophe on the Indian subcontinent.
As information came in, she blogged about it. You can find her information portal at www.actnaturallyblog.wordpress.com, and read more in depth about the situation, link to other non-profits and N.G.Os working on the issues and watch informational videos.
Because of her deep love for Yoga, Vedanta, the traditional medicines of India, and all of the many colors and flavors of India, Lua decided to give something back to the land, culture, and people that gave her so much. ….and that something turned into Act Naturally! We are growing and giving.
Poverty is a social disease, only. It is preventable. When small holding farmers keep their lands, tribals and adivasis have access to their natural equity and forest produce, and communities decentralize food production, taking over the responsibility to feed each other at a local level, the roots of poverty cease to exist. Instead of giving a starving person a fish for a day while they stare at a polluted river once full of fish, Act Naturally believes you clean up the river and reteach the people to fish! Our goals is to support self reliance through a new paradigm which severs handouts from action. We channel our donations in to practical on- the ground solutions, that transfrom the farmer back to their empowered selves, to produce nutritious ecologically sustainable food for their family and community. That is Lua’s idea, work with the farmers, and families giving them a way to earn income for themselves and not for multinationals who take advantage of their situation.
Why not, Act Naturally with us?
Deeper Roots – Mithyahara
India is the birthplace of a spiritual system called Yoga with disciplines ranging from Hatha yoga, the well known movement of postures performed in unison with breath awareness and control to meditation systems such as Kriya yoga that direct energy and thought with intent and awareness through various energetic conduits in the body, to karma yoga, an intrinsic base to many other parts of yoga which prescribes the proper attitude of perfecting and offering ones actions to God. In between there are many interpretations and “schools” of thought, more or less eluding to similar goals – a healthy self-reliant life, both physical and spiritual, and a healthy planet. At the core of many of these teachings is diet, what is proper to eat, in what portion, at what time, and what attitude will be most reverential.
In Hatha yoga, and with meditation, one of the major tennants for a successful practice and life is to practice Mitahara/Mithyahara. Mitahara is a proper moderated diet, avoiding all the well-known intoxicants and certain culturally specific foods that can disrupt ones practice with ill effects in the body. As the serious yogi abides by this knowingly, the tourist industry in India has capitalized on hatha yoga to attract more westerners. Signs outside of ashrams of all shapes and sizes advertize “ashram living” with “sattvic” or balanced food as part of the proper diet. Seldom is this food sourced organically. The seeker , often in need or boistered health and healing, Indian and foreigner alike, is eating chemical residues, sugary chai and denatured flours and carcinogenic oils, without knowing. The Ashram in their lack of vigilance is supporting industries that are undermining the very principles they espouse. Imagine the revolutionary Freedom Fighter Sri Aurobindo and what he would say if he knew the ashram was buying bleached wheat and genetically modified brinjals whose seeds are sold to poor farmers through American Agro-Business giants like Monsanto.
Act Naturally believes we will play a critical role in providing organic food to these evolving situations. By aiding farmers to adopt better farming practices, and helping families to retain their land for future bountiful harvests, India can have a brighter, clearner organic future as she did before the Green Revolution.
We recognize you recognizing us. Thank you.