Local Organization Helps Support Exiled, Organic Tibetan Farmers
By Terrah Baker
Pennies for Partnerships started as a fundraising entity to support already existing programs in the exiled Tibetan communities now living in India, explained founder and director Leann Halsey. The Indian government granted land to the Tibetan people who come from a farming culture thousands of years old.
Following the “Green Revolution” in India, where monoculture farms and industrial chemicals became the norm, farmers and others in India became concerned with the devastation it had on the farmers and the land.
“The Green Revolution came around and caused depletion of the soil among other things. The Tibetan Government-in-exile made an effort to say ‘We want this land that was given to us to stay pristine, the way it was given to us. That way when we return to our mother-land we can give it back in good or better condition than it was given to us,’” Halsey explained.
Since farming is a large part of the culture of Tibetans, moving to organic principles aligned with their culture. But problems existed that Halsey witnessed in her trips to India where she traveled as part of earning her master’s degree in social work.
What these farmers are most lacking is a food network that allows them to reach, educate and serve their communities with healthy food while sustaining their livelihood. That’s what Pennies for Partnerships helped do, and now People Feeding People Outreach will be doing with their first benefit dinner.
Along with developing regular farmer’s markets and farm-to-school programs, the funds raised will help extend farmers’ growing seasons. An example of why this is important took place in 2010 when global warming took a severe toll on the farmers of India.
“The monsoon season came early and it didn’t stop. Farmers lost 60 percent of their fields because they weren’t able to get their crops planted. That was a devastating year for the farmers and their income,” Halsey said.
Part of the money raised at the benefit dinner to be held Thursday, Oct. 17, at The Garden Room on Dickson St. in Fayetteville will go to buy the excess produce from the farmers, which will then be given to impoverished families in India.
In order to “celebrate local, share global,” People Feeding People has purchased all local ingredients for an Indian feast prepared by Chef Jason Henderson and Jerrmy Gawhtrop. There will be a cash bar, musical guests Three Penny Acre, Cutty Rye, Don’t Stop Please and Farmer and the Markets, along with a raffle and short talks from leaders in the community. Tickets will be $20, with children under 12 $10 and infants free. For tickets, and more information on how you can help, visit indiasocialwork.com, the Fayetteville Farmers Market table on Saturdays on Mountain Street, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.