The idea for OOO Farms took root when Shailesh Awate, an ardent trekker, began to notice forest cover in the Sahyadris diminishing through the decades. Driven by the desire to preserve these forests, he started working with indigenous communities in the region to conserve native and indigenous seeds. Led by Shailesh and Shikha Kansagara, the organisation now advocates choosing native varietals of rice, wheat, millet, corn, toor, cotton, and other crops, rather than hybrid ones.
Working in Maharashtra and Gujarat, OOO Farms is a Farmer Producer Company (FPC) which democratises agriculture by practising profit-sharing among tribal farming communities. Anchored in ideas of equity, their practices range from making native seeds available free of cost, to creating markets for surplus produce after farmers have saved enough for their own consumption.
The organisation, in tandem with the local community, strives to safeguard tribal wisdom and agricultural practices. In constructing this profit-sharing organisation, the co-founders hope to provide each farmer with a sense of ownership within his or her capacity.
Why We Love OOO Farms
- Revival and conservation projects – By focusing on individual ingredients, OOO Farms has been able to create substantial impact over the course of harvest cycles within their regions. Several native varietals, including those of indigenous rice—like Sahyadri Black (Kaal Bhaat), Krishna Kamod and Ajara Ghansal—wheat, millets, corn, cotton, toor, fruits and vegetables, have been revived in this manner. Three seed banks in the two states have also been created, with OOO Farms conserving over 1,200 varieties of native seeds.
- The big-picture perspective – OOO Farms’ ethos is founded in the aspiration to create like-minded communities. They focus on hamlets over individual farmers to encourage harmony over competition. They have also displayed solidarity by standing with farmers during times of distress: the first cycle of naturally cultivated toor dal did not reap a great harvest, but OOO Farms shouldered the losses.
- The ‘jod dhandha’ philosophy – ‘Jod dhandha’ translates to ‘supplementary business’. OOO Farms’ models encourage financial independence amongst farmers, such as focusing on additional income sources in the form of Wild Food Economy that works closely with Chef Thomas. This income is earned through uncultivated yet abundant foods of the jungle. This helps the farmers gain stability in times of hardship: they can fall back on these lateral earnings.
- Educational impact – The concept of ‘growing what you eat’ is inculcated through experiential learning in schools through a subject called ‘Grama’. At the Polymath School, Mumbai, students have created eight model villages where they consume the produce they grow, in an effort to reverse village drain.
Note from the Producer
“OOO Farms Farmer Producer Company is a collective of farmers from Maharashtra and Gujarat. Our focus is to conserve the indigenous wisdom—in the form of seeds, farming, culture and life—of India. The indigenous people are the original caretakers of the land, and probably the last bastions of ancient wisdom that can help us tide over the climate crisis. The indigenous way of life and the traditional ecological knowledge they have conserved over generations could be one answer to our many questions regarding our current predicament.”
— Shikha Kansagara, Director of OOO Farms
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where OOO Farms stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Shikha Kansagara, the director of OOO Farms. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
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If you’re interested in finding out more about OOO Farms, read our interview with them here.
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If you would like to learn more about OOO Farms, or try different types of millets, lentils and rice, check out their website. If you’re interested in supporting them in other ways, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a paid partnership with OOO Farms. At the Locavore, we strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.