Thanks to Regeneration International’s roving reporter Oliver Gardiner for producing “The Spirit of Sadhana,” the first episode of “Trails of Regeneration,” a video series featuring stories from around the world about people who love and care for nature’s ecosystems and human well-being.
Gardiner takes us to Auroville, India, where we meet Velvizhi V, a regeneration steward from Chennai, South India. As she walks through her city, Velvizhi reminds us about the heavy monsoon rains and severe flooding that hit southern Asia in August of 2017, killing more than 1,200 people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Against a backdrop of video footage from the 2017 floods, Velvizhi explains that even though the city experienced record rainfall, none of that rain managed to replenish the aquifer.
The water was lost to sea, “wasted again,” as she puts it:
“Imagine the underground as a tank. You keep on filling it but you have a hole at the bottom, in which the water is leaking. So what’s the point in filling it if it’s wasted?”
Why did all that rain run off into the sea? Instead of soaking into the soil? Deforestation, says Velvizhi. A problem that can be fixed only by reforesting the land.
Velvizhi works with Sadhana Forest, a volunteer-led project that trains communities in agroforestry and water conservation to restore degraded lands by planting trees.
As of today, Sadhana Forest has recruited 7,000 volunteers to regenerate degraded lands, live in symbiosis with nature and reverse deforestation naturally in Haiti, India and Kenya.
In India, the organization works to retain water and fill the aquifer so villagers can cultivate their own food. Without food, Velvizhi says, villagers flock to nearby city slums.
Crucial to the Sadhana Forest mission is planting native trees, so young people can experience the original forest of their forebears. The tree-planting process includes preparing the ground by laying a blanket of mulch. According to Aviram Rozin, founder of Sadhana Forest:
“Mulching is very important because this is a very arid area and the sun is very very strong here. If we mulch the tree we protect it from the sun and we also enable the tree to benefit from the leaves breaking down and having more nutrients.”
You can’t have too much mulch, Rozin says. If you can see the soil, then so can the sun—which means it’s time to add more mulch.
In Haiti, Sadhana Forest has helped the community plant 80,000 food-bearing trees, with the potential to feed 70,000 people.
In Kenya, the organization helps grow food forests with the Samburu people to promote food security in their community, a region characterized by droughts and malnutrition.
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