Cows have been the cornerstone of agriculture throughout the history of humanity. Without them, soil cannot be replenished with manure but must instead rely on chemical fertilisers, and ox-powered ploughing must be taken over by tractors that compact the soil and pollute the planet. Yet, today’s cattle farming practices are an inhumane and unsustainable exploitation of sentient beings.
But if cows are neither slaughtered nor exploited for the milk industry, how can they not become a financial burden?
Beejom farm has the answer. Not only do they maintain over 130 indigenous cows, who are treated with love and whose calves drink their mother’s milk to their fill, they don’t rely on donations to cover the additional costs. Instead, the cows and bulls themselves maintain the farm: the cattle dung is used to make vermicompost, pots for seedlings (that can then be replanted in open ground along with their pot!), logs (deforestation-free fuel), organic fertilisers (gobar khad, jeevamrutham, panchagavya), pest repellents (bramhastra, agnihastra), biogas and natural incense.
As Aparna, the founder, says, “On our farm, the bulls save us, we don’t save them. They pull the carts and run the sugarcane, grain and oil chakkis [mills]. They plough our land and help water the fields too.”
The farm is fully self-sufficient: off-the-grid and solar-powered, it harvests rainwater, produces organic vegetables, grains and lentils, sells the surplus in zero-waste packaging, maintains a seed bank, and even has a school and women’s empowerment group to provide education for the farmers’ families. Even though they are not a dairy farm, and they shelter many rescued animals, they do not rely on external grants and funds to continue. Thus they tie environmental and economical sustainability together, a difficult balance to maintain.
Aparna concludes by advising all aspiring organic farmers:
“Farming is people-oriented. It isn’t a job or a career, but a journey. Even if you cannot take it up on a large scale, start small, from your apartment or colony. There are several options like teaching composting in your community, and growing food on your terrace or community space. Don’t hesitate to share your knowledge. It is only when we all join hands, that we can spark a revolution and ride a wave of change.”