Category: India

Precious and Kale
Meet Precious Phiri who spends her days teaching farmers in Zimbabwe how to mitigate climate change.
 
Specifically, she instructs them in holistic land management, a method that rejuvenates depleted water and degraded soil while drawing climate-changing C02 out of the atmosphere.
 
Originally trained by the Savory Institute, the enthusiastic Ms. Phiri explains that a cornerstone of holistic management is that eco-systems without animals create ecological imbalance. Grasslands, for example, deteriorate when the food chain that keeps them alive is disturbed. Deprived of a symbiotic relationship with ruminants, grass dies and then soil dies. And, in the process, climate-disrupting carbon discharges into the atmosphere.
 
It’s simple but not obvious: Ecosystems need both fauna and flora to thrive. Think of the oceans without whales or Yellowstone National Park without wolves. It’s the great web of life.
 
The phenomenon, sometimes described as a “trophic cascade,” is a biological process that flows between every part of the food chain.
 
Here Precious explains it: 
Precious Phiri Play Button
Here’s another obvious but often-overlooked fact: Healthy humans come from healthy food that originates in healthy soil. And there is no way to support this synergy between our health and the biosphere in an industrial food system: Big Ag and Big Food disrupts precious water cycles, destroys biodiversity, pummels the biosphere with toxic pesticides, and imprisons innocent animals that should be on the land. This isn’t mere sentiment; it’s actually climate science.
 
In a regenerative world, it’s OK to eat meat, but if you’re going to do so, it’s imperative to transition to organic, grass-fed and free-range–and not in the quantities Big Ag and Big Food would have you do. Any other way and we are contributing to global warming, impacting our health and, by the way, engaging significantly in animal cruelty. Of course it’s more than OK to be vegan or vegetarian but, ecologically speaking, there is also an argument for conscious meat eating.
 
Vandana Shiva is vegetarian and also a founding member of Regeneration International, an organization that promotes and researches this stuff. Here’s a clip of her talking about the animals at her Navdanya farm.
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And here are some books to read if you’d like to know more:
 
 
It’s a whole new world of hope for the environment, the climate and our own health. Perhaps the most hopeful story ever that too few people have heard.
 
P.S: About progress on our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story: We’ve just completed laying in additional dialogue, now we’re working on music and B-Roll. Onwards we go!
 
Please contribute to this next phase of our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story here: Every bit helps to get the film completed (and into your hands) sooner rather than later!

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We have returned from our trip to India and are sorting through what we filmed.

We’re excited to do so, but first we want to report on our journey and let you know what we learned. Especially because today is World Food Day.

Every October 16 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations spearheads outreach and actions to eradicate hunger. This year’s theme, intersecting with the International Year of the Soil is “Social Protection and Agriculture.”

Not surprisingly, the inextricable link between soil, food systems and social justice was also a theme of our visit to India. On a Soil Pilgrimage led by Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Ronnie Cummins (Organic Consumers Association), Andre Leu (IFOAM-International) and Will Allen (Sustainable Cotton Project), we filmed events with organic farmers, scientists and activists; at farms in the heart of the Bt cotton suicide belt; at Gandhi’s ashram on his birthday (a national holiday in India where the assembled pledged to make peace with the soil); and at Indore, where Sir Albert Howard (a founding father of the organic movement) learned organic methods from local Indian farmers and established a pioneering soil research lab.

One thing is clear: Healthy soil supports healthy crops, healthy farms, healthy consumers and healthy economies. It is also a solution to climate change.Why? Because the living soil draws carbon out of the atmosphere and sequesters it underground where it fuels food production.

Conversely, industrial agriculture disrupts the natural carbon cycle and actually depletes soil, along with its ability to sequester carbon. Worse, the industrial food system is responsible for more than 40% of climate disrupting carbon emissions.

Armed with solid research into the science of agriculture an exciting new project, Regeneration International, formed by Dr. Shiva and others also launches today. They are in Washington DC for an International Press Conference to promote regenerative agriculture as a solution to climate change.

Look down: The answer to hunger, poverty, ecological devastation and climate change is right under our feet.

With that thought in mind, we continue to edit our footage, including new interviews with Vandana’s son, sister, teachers, friends, her original publisher, Ronnie Cummins, Will Allen, Andre Leu and six inspiring young “seeds” of Vandana Shiva–farmers, artists, scientists and activists intent on regenerating a better world for us all.

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We want to thank EVERYONE who donated to our Summer 2015 Fundraising campaign. Not everyone supported this project through Kickstarter, we received donations by way of the donation tab on this website as well as through other means. To those donors: We won’t publish your name unless you would like us to add them to the list below. We’d be happy to do so, just let us know!

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We can’t wait to let you know when the film is complete!

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WITH YOUR SUPPORT WE MADE OUR GOAL. Yes! We leave for India on Sunday, where we will begin by interviewing Vandana’s childhood friends, teachers, and son.
We will also visit Gandhi’s Ashram and film gatherings of organic farmers atNavdanya and Indore (in Central India) where many say the modern organic movement began.
The story of the organic movement as we know it today has deep roots in India and actually features an Englishman. In 1905 an agricultural developer named Albert Howard–from Shropshire–was dispatched to the colony to teach Indian farmers how they should farm.
Instead, this Western scientist discovered that the indigenous farmers could teach him far more: He went on to famously document the benefits of organic agriculture for the Rodale Institute and other organizations, and is well known for stating that “the health of soil, plant, animal and man is indivisible.”
Howard advocated for agroecology long before the advent of GMOs and the corporate control of our food systems.
Today Indore is a center of food culture in India. With Dr. Shiva we’ll visit organic farmer’s markets, including the Sarafa Bazaar, a night market famous for its vegetarian street food.
Edible treats not withstanding, we see excellent footage ahead.
Thanks to our donors and Kickstarter backers, in Delhi we’ll film at the Bhoomi Festival, source archival material, and look for an artist to help us with animation and graphics:
Here’s a picture of the Hindu Goddess Durga in the Madhubani style of Indian art. Durga is the embodiment of the warrior woman: She tears down demons and difficulties to build anew. Many describe Vandana as a manifestation of Durga…an idea we explore with her in the film.

 The Kickstarter campaign ends this Saturday, September 19 and you can still pledge. Every dollar over and above our initial goal will go directly into the project and we have a wish list! You could be rewarded with any one of the following, which all make great gifts.

And more! See our Kickstarter page for other rewards.
In the meantime, we’re excited to be able to get back to the film. We’ll send out rewards as soon as we return!

Agroecology Climate Change Earth Democracy Gandhi India Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto News Organic Seed Freedom Uncategorized Vandana Shiva Year of the Soil

Vandana with bullocks and master 1
What a busy few months it has been. We received a generous grant to edit THE SEEDS OF VANDANA SHIVA from the Logan Foundation and our wonderful editors are hard at work. We’ve also been working on the script and researching music, archival footage and Indian animation and graphics.

And we’ve been networking! From scientists, to farmers, to activists, to chefs, we’ve connected with many brilliant people working towards just and ecological food systems for all.

These individuals and the organizations they represent need all the messaging help they can get. Why? Because the strategic centerpiece of industry public relations is that large scale, chemically dependent agriculture is the only way to feed an increasingly crowded and hungry world. The truth is that appropriately scaled organic food systems produce superior nutrition and equivalent yields; they also do not deplete soil, pollute air, overuse water, destroy birds, bees and butterflies or mess with our health!

The problem is that government-supported Big Ag and Big Food have limitless public relations resources, putting agro-ecologists at a disadvantage. This is especially true in the developing world where there is relentless marketing of GMOs and widespread occurrence of corporate land grabs.

For this reason THE SEEDS OF VANDANA SHIVA will be much more than a documentary film; it’s also a strategy to support movement building. We have committed to sharing Vandana’s inspiring life story with organizations around the world–both big and small–to support their education, outreach and fundraising efforts. We need to collectively address agro-industry’s dishonest narrative with an alternative that offers solutions and hope.

We’ve forged over fifty alliances already, including with Seed Freedom, African Biodiversity Network, Center for Food Safety, Edible Communities, Global GMO Free Coalition, The Greenhorns, Rodale Institute, Soil not Oil Coalition and Seed Savers Exchange. With our newly minted promotional reel, we’ll be reaching out to a list of more than 150 additional organizations across the globe.

Speaking of the promotional reel, here it is!

Agroecology Earth Democracy India Navdanya Seed Freedom Uncategorized Vandana Shiva

MVI_9671 In Car 3

Since we returned from filming at the People’s Climate March in September, we’ve been tracking Vandana Shiva’s schedule from then until now.

Holy Moly: She’s visited upward of fourteen cities in North America and made multiple appearances to capacity crowds. We caught up with her in Canada (for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (thank you Beyond Pesticides for supporting our trip), in Los Angeles with a hip crowd at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, and most recently in San Francisco at the Earth at Risk Conference produced by the radical and feisty Fertile Ground Institute.

The crowds that Vandana attracts are diverse. But they are unified in their commitment to a just and ecologically sustainable world. Vandana talks about this vision–what she calls Earth Democracy–in this short clip: The Seattle reference points to the 1992 WTO meetings, where Dr. Shiva and others spoke out about the spreading power of multinational corporations–not only in America but all over the globe.

What better time to imagine a more just and desirable world than during the Holiday Season as we look forward to a New Year? In the past three months we’ve felt privileged to be around so many energized individuals dedicated to creating a healthier planet. Judging by these folks, environmental activism is alive and well, life affirming and inspiring. We’d recommend it!

Do we sound like a fan club? No, we’re a film. Hopefully a good one, because this film has an incredible story to tell. Creatively, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva is firmly on track and when we’re not filming we’re reviewing and organizing all our film footage. Editing a video required for submission to foundations and sponsors for funding begins in earnest next month.

The success of the movement for a just and sustainable food system–of which we like to think The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will play a small part–depends on creating and empowering networks for change. For us, in our way, that means relationships and partnerships with others who care about sharing this story. So if you, or anyone you know is interested in collaborating with us–we’re talking website, social media, marketing, editing, even fundraising–get in touch with us here.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous and earth friendly 2015!

P.S: Here’s a three minute video we made about the A-Z of Agroecology Course that we attended while filming and interviewing Vandana in September. Yes, the filming trip made possible by our generous donors! There is a still a LOT to do on this project and you can still make a tax-deductible donation in 2014. Click here for details!

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth Climate Change Earth Democracy Gandhi India Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto Navdanya News Organic Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

In September 2014, filming for our documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we spent a few weeks with Dr. Shiva in Northern India. She was on her farm, Navdanya, for the annual A-Z of Agroecology Course which takes place from September 1 to September 31 each year. One day we checked in with several of the participants, who share their thoughts about the A-Z Course in this clip.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth India Navdanya

Bullock at Navdanya trough

What does a bullock have to do with The Seeds of Vandana Shiva?

Quite a bit it turns out…

We just spent two weeks with Vandana on her farm in Northern India. While conducting interviews and collecting footage for the film, we also joined a diverse group of students from all over the world–and all over India–there to attend a month long A-Z intensive on agro ecology and organic food systems.

Little wonder cattle are revered in India. On small farms they provide manure for fertilizer, muscle power to till fields, along with milk for the family and to sell to the community. Their dung is also used for fuel and in the construction of buildings. Who needs to buy gas guzzling tractors or toxic chemical inputs when this placid guy can give you so much?

There are so many fascinating things to learn about the web of life and how–with cooperation, not domination–it can sustain us. Though we enjoyed sneaking in to the lectures and talks, we also spent many hours with Vandana herself, exploring a gamut of topics, ranging from her introduction to indigenous spirituality by the tribal women of the Himalayas to her role in the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” protests against the WTO.

Speaking of spirituality, Jim Becket and Jim Whitney just spent several days with her in New York City where they filmed at the Religions of the Earth Conference at Union Theological Seminary and at the People’s Climate March, the largest climate change protest in history. Focused on talks scheduled to take place at the United Nations this week, more than 1,500 organizations took part in the New York demonstrations, with satellite events all over the world.

Since more than 40% of greenhouse gases can be attributed to industrial agriculture, Vandana has been a long time promoter of agro-ecology as a viable antidote. Here’s a clip from a discussion we had with her last week. The treaty she refers to is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Of course we would not have these comments on film without your support! So again, we must thank all of you who contributed to our seed fund campaign. Our filming trip to India was a huge success, and we can’t wait to go through our reams of footage to begin the (long) process of putting together the film. By the way, we also collected seeds, spices, and hand woven cotton stoles while we were in India, which we will distribute, as promised, to our valued donors.

Bija Vidyapeeth Climate Change India Navdanya Vandana Shiva

Zambian Woman With Hoe

We’re getting ready to leave for India!

And we’re thinking about Thank You Gifts for our generous donors. Please expect them towards the end of September, when we get back.

As you know, we are traveling to India to film for our new documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, which tells the remarkable life story of eco activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, how she stood up to the corporate Goliaths of chemical agribusiness, rose to prominence in the environmental movement, and inspired an international movement for change.

You can still make a tax-deductible donation towards production costs for this project!

Our next step is to create a fundraising video to help us secure foundation funding to complete a full-length version of this important film.

Here’s Vandana on Mechanical Science versus Indigenous Knowledge:

Some background: When she was researching her book about women and ecology, Staying Alive (first published in 1989), Vandana began to look at science in a new way. The Neem Tree she mentions in this clip is indigenous to India, and has been used for centuries in Indian medicine and agriculture. In 2000 the European Patent Office revoked a patent on Neem for pesticide use that had been granted to the U.S. based W. R. Grace Corporation, ruling that the patent amounted to bio-piracy. Vandana’s activism was key to the ruling.

As to her own scientific credentials, as a child Vandana was considered a science prodigy, and received important science scholarships throughout her education. She earned her first degree in Particle Physics at the University of Chandigarh, and her PhD in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Before founding her Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, she did interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy at the Indian Institute for Science. There’ll be more on her scientific career in the film!

Again, deep appreciation and thanks to our donors. Don’t forget to select your Thank You Gifts. We’ll be back in touch when we get back from India.

India Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

Indian Women Farmers Front of Card copy

Vandana Shiva is a brilliant scientist and environmental activist at the center of an epic battle over the world’s food system. The fight is between industrial, chemically dependent agriculture (in cahoots with “Big Food”) and ecologically sustainable farming that supports the health of the planet and the wellbeing of all people.

Dr. Shiva is known as Monsanto’s worst nightmare as well as a rock star of the sustainable food movement. But outside of the world of environmental activism, she’s relatively unknown. This despite the fact that she has proven definitively that organic agriculture produces higher yields and greater nutrition at a much lower cost than toxic chemical agriculture.

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will clarify the issues at stake through the lens of Vandana’s extraordinary life story. Today, there is enormous corporate investment in spin to discredit her, with claims that industrial agriculture is not only healthy, but the only viable means for “feeding the world.” However, this inspiring woman’s fight for seed freedom and democracy against seed monopolies and the rule of multinational corporations will tell the true story.

We can still tip the balance in this David vs. Goliath battle before us. With The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we are blessed with a story of Gandhian proportions that we hope will appeal to a broad audience and, importantly, inspire viewers to action.

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