“Today, at a time of multiple crises intensified by globalization, we need to move away from the paradigm of nature as dead matter. We need to move to an ecological paradigm, and for this, the best teacher is nature herself.
This is the reason why the Earth University/Bija Vidyapeeth was started at Navdanya’s farm.
The Earth University teaches Earth Democracy, which is the freedom for all species to evolve within the web of life, and the freedom and responsibility of humans, as members of the Earth family, to recognize, protect, and respect the rights of other species. Earth Democracy is a shift from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism. And since we all depend on the Earth, Earth Democracy translates into human rights to food and water, to freedom from hunger and thirst.
Because the Earth University is located at Navdanya, a biodiversity farm, participants learn to work with living seeds, living soil, and the web of life. Participants include farmers, school children, and people from across the world.” — Dr Vandana Shiva (Source: Vandana Shiva: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest, Yes Magazine, 5 December 2012).
Navdanya established a learning center, Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed) a center of excellence for Organic farming on its biodiversity conservation and organic farm, which is serving small and marginal farmers, both men and women, students, scientists and researchers from across the globe. It is is dedicated to education for sustainable living and earth citizenship and offers a unique opportunity to explore the principles and practice of sustainability and diversity.
The unique aspects of Navdanya learning center are that, it is not just learning in the classroom but on a living working farm. Because Biodiversity conservation is at the heart of the Navdanya’s work and the learning center is located at the biodiversity conservation farm participants learn about crop diversity and the interactions between different aspects of agroecological systems through observation and experiential learning.
Throughout the year farmers from all across India come to get trained in organic farming to create the future in agroecology.
For people to come from all over the world Navdanya offers the opportunity to learn from nature and farmers as teachers, as well as from the cutting edge ecological research combined with practical experience and participation in community activities.
Two major courses are the ‘A-Z of Agroecology and Organic Food Systems’ and ‘Gandhi, Globalization and Earth Democracy’
A-Z of Agroecology and Organic Food Systems
Since 2012, for citizens’ organizations and movements from across the world, Navdanya offers the course A-Z of Agroecology and Organic Food Systems, a one month Global Capacity Building workshop with eminent scientists and environmentalists.
Among the programs of the course:
Living soil – The Soil Food Web, Renewal of Soil Fertility; composting and other methods to rejuvenate living soils.
Living Seed – Seeds and biodiversity, difference between traditional open pollinated seeds, Green Revolution varieties ,hybrids, GMOs, Why save seeds, participatory and evolutionary breeding, seed conservation, creating community seed bank and seed libraries.
Living Food Systems – The health hazards of the industrial food system-pesticides,GMOs ,Junk food,Health, nutrition and ecological agriculture; the economics of local organic systems vs industrial global systems; Economic diversity and biodiversity of markets, issues of certification and participatory guarantee.
The course on A-Z of Agroecology & Organic Food Systems is an opportunity to learn about the links between Seed Sovereignty and Food Sovereignty and issues of Intellectual Property Rights, Patents, Seed Monopolies and Farmers Rights, as well as about living seed, living soil, self-reliant sustainable local living food economies both at the scientific level and through participation in seed conservation and breeding, composting & soil fertility renewal, cooking classes with forgotten foods and interaction with local community and farmers.
More than 300 students have been benefited with this unique course and many of them have become ambassador of organic farming in their respective regions/ countries/continents. Among those, several representatives of partners movements have joined the course, which has revealed its unique catalyst effect for joining forces, exchanging knowledge and strategies, creating and consolidating alliances as well as for inspiring new projects.
For example, a knowledge exchange workshop on seed saving, soil fertility enhancement and agroecology was organised with the Latin America Seed Freedom Network (Red Semillas De Libertad). Also, seed savers and seed defenders from Indonesia, Portugal and Ghana, who attended the course, could acquire new skills and knowledge which enabled them to start farms and/or strengthen and further develop their agroecology projects and networks. In short, the course is not only a learning experience, but a unique opportunity for the organic movement, the seed and food freedom movements and the agroecology and regenerative agriculture movement to join forces and commit to work together to build a poison-free, biodiversity rich alternative model of farming and food systems.
- Seed Thoughts from Navdanya
- My story and my Navdanya inspired farm, by Isaac Pabia, Ghana
- An Indian farm inspiring the World, by Charlie Mgee, Formidable Vegetable Sound System, Australia
Gandhi, Globalization and Earth Democracy
As Gandhi said, the Earth has enough for everyone’s needs , but not for a few people’s greed. He cultivated non-violence at every level, from paradigms of Science and technology to structures of politics and economics.
The course explores the relevance of his ideas and practice of Swaraj (self-governance), Swadeshi (local production and self-reliance), Sarvodaya (wellbeing of all) and Satyagraha (non-violent civil disobedience based on the force of truth), Gandhi, to create and defend people’s economic and political freedom in the midst of multiple crises – ecological, economic, social, political.