Environmentalists are very familiar with the work of Vandana Shiva, particularly her global efforts to stop Monsanto chemicals from destroying the earth’s soils. Few people, however, are aware that Vandana runs a small farm near her family home in Dehrudan in northern India.
I first met Vandana in 2204 at the University of Kentucky’s Women’s Writers Conference. I was enamored of her keynote presentation and took the time to chat about my own passion for food justice. In her warm and amiable manner, Vandana encouraged me to “come back to India” (it had been 40 years since I taught for a year in Bangalore) and spend some time at her farm, Navdanya (translated: Nine Seeds). As it turned out, my daughter had a three -week break from Teach for America at the same time as Vandana was offering a course on Food and Culture with Italy’s founder of the Slow Food Movement, Carlo Petrini. Maggie and I packed our bags and headed for Navdanya to experience Vandana’s vision for a new earth. It was a wonderful two weeks for us, packed with lectures and the making of new colleagues. Over the years, I have visited Navdanya, invited Vandana to multiple events at Berea College, and nurtured our collegial friendship. In the book I am writing, Take Back the Kitchen, I dedicate my scholarship to Vandana and her life-long pursuit to bring justice to small farmers the world over. The farm Navdanya produces thousands of varieties of grains, including traditional grains like millet that provide powerful nutrients in a food that asks so little of the soil.
You can find more information about Navdanya here: https://navdanyainternational.org