SalamatRaho presents to you the inspiring story of two brothers who left their city life along with their job. Raghav and Ansh Kumar took this step- followed their calling and established their initiative- Tiny Farm Lab in a village near Rishikesh.
They are both architects by education. However, Ansh is a practicing new media artist and Raghav is keen on natural building.
“The future of India lies in its villages”- Mahatma Gandhi.
This quote seems more relevant today than any time before. India’s survival depends on the well-being and development of its villages. Today’s Indian youth are extremely aware and conscious of their responsibility to protect the environment.
The latest estimates show that around 27% of the total population of 1.3 billion in 2020 are youth and have a contribution of over 34% in the country’s national income. Hence, their contribution is extremely important for the country’s development.
India Lives In The Rural Areas
Seventy percent of India’s population – roughly one-tenth of humanity – live in the rural areas. This makes rural India a focal point for issues of national and global concern: the impact of high population and development on natural resources; lack of sanitation and its impact on health; water pollution from raw sewage and pesticide runoff; soil loss and desertification due to erosion, overgrazing and deforestation etc. It is extremely important to maintain a balance between development, conservation and protecting the environment.
Why Millennials Wants To Live In Rural India
Most millennials are now wanting to take up these issues and actually relocate to rural areas and contribute towards sustainable development. Indian villages have the ability to offer fulfilling lives to their inhabitants which is also germinal to India’s future as a great global power.
Moving from a comfortable city life, with all the infrastructure and facilities, to a village, to actually live their long term and help towards development and sustainability, is a huge step. And one who can actually take that step is definitely a force to recon with.
Background of Ansh & Raghav
Born in the city, Delhi, and growing up in urban areas along with high pollution levels, crowded roads, heavy traffic, concrete jungles and hardly any space to live a quality life. They could never develop an intimate relationship with nature. We all now live in an accelerated society where everything gets delivered to your doorstep. We are constantly distracted by notifications, posts, ads, articles, ideas, and news. With all these comforts and noise, one gets distracted from what one wants to do and wants to be. These issues needled them constantly.
Good degree in hand and a lucrative job in his pocket, Raghav was fortunate to be part of a German office with no issues and a great working environment. However, in the conventional practice, the architect is disconnected from nature, the materials, and the labour.
With time, Raghav realised that there was a gap between the life he was living and the life he preferred. Reading being his passion, made him aware that time is the most precious commodity and he was losing control. He wanted that control back.
Moment Of Awakening!!
And this made him stand apart from the herd. As it is said, you are always just one decision away from living the life you desire. He gave into that voice which kept nagging him to change path, which very few have the strength to do.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J. K Rowling.
Raghav made his choice. Raghav says, “I was privileged to quit my job and seek what life has to offer. The initial plan was to travel southeast Asia and explore the world on a budget. However, the plans got cancelled because of the covid induced lockdown, and life took a different turn.”
They had more time to read and watch movies which influenced them more to follow their dream. Books like “City Quitters” by Karen Rosenkranz, about creatives who quit the city to move to rural areas. Reading every story made their feelings to seek rural pastures stronger. Movies like Captain Fantastic, The Big Little Farm, Economics of Happiness, The Corporation, Living The Change, Schooling the World, etc., which made them more aware of the “systems” and the impact of climate change.
Raghav attended a natural building workshop at Geeli Mitti, Nainital, which gave a deep insight about the process. Ansh mentored a motion arts residency in Goa. When they both returned from their respective workshops, they actively started to look for a place in a rural area.
No one can be truly happy or achieve their highest goals without taking risks from time to time.
And Raghav and Ansh were go-getters. Not scared to take the risk or had fears of failures. They believed that the best way to predict your future is to create it. And they created theirs!
Why They Chose Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
They chose Rishikesh in Uttarakhand as they had family links. It was close to Delhi, had both mountains and beaches. The presence of the Ganges was a major plus which attracted people from around the world. Nearest Airport is 30 minutes away.
Their father’s friend in Rishikesh, Deepak Ji, forwarded a helping hand. He resonated with their ideas of creating a sustainable model and offered his tiny land overlooking the Ganges to start small. Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. Raghav and Ansh wanted to test their potential and took the leap.
Raghav says, ”We moved to rural pastures to live deliberately. To observe nature and learn from it. To rediscover our repressed instincts, create something sacred and most true to life with our own hands. We want to enjoy each process and relish slow living in the mountains. We are interested in creating a space to explore and nurture our human potential, be our authentic selves, have discourse on food (roti), clothing(kapda), shelter(makaan), experiment with new materials, express through art, and practice sustainability(imperfect)”.
Inception of Tiny Farm Lab
The brothers initiated the Tiny Farm Lab in their new residence. It is a consequence of a lifestyle choice. The lab is nestled in the farmlands on a small hill near Rishikesh, at the confluence of river Ganges and its tributary river Heval. The village is situated adjacent to a serene forest with its wildlife.
At the farm, they envision it as an interdisciplinary nexus of art, design, visual media, science, and nature. Their mission is to build tiny houses, using natural materials and investigate alternate biomaterials with their living friends – Fungi, Bacteria, and Algae. Their focus lies more in the experiments than the results, bringing out newer perspectives.
Says Raghav ”We envision the place as an open studio for the round pegs in the square holes. We strive to surround ourselves with dreamers, DIYers, storytellers, graphic designers, visual artists, photographers, filmmakers, natural builders, biologists, mycologists, bio designers, fashion designers, product designers, musicians, and alternate economists.”
Finally, after an infinite number of design iterations, they started the construction of the cob house, (Mud house) which would have a living roof. Cob building is a very democratic and inclusive natural building technique. Initial days were spent getting used to cooking on Chulha, gathering firewood, sourcing water from the canal, observing the sun, the land on which they wanted to build the cob house. They tested different soils to identify the ideal mix for cob building. Also made a rocket stove/smokeless chulha, using cob. The aim is not only to build for themselves but also to train the local villagers and many architecture students and interested volunteers who can gain from their experience and knowledge.
They are also experimenting with biomaterials and making products using mycelium (the vegetative part of mushroom), eggshells, Kombucha, orange peel powder, etc. Living inside the forest has allowed them the privilege to practice deep ecology and investigate alternate biomaterials with our living friends – Soil, Fungi, Bacteria, and Algae.
Currently, they are a three-member team – Ansh, Raghav, and Ankita. Ankita works remotely and keeps visiting them. They are all architects by education pursuing unorthodox creative interests in life.
Family support is also very important for such decisions, which they always got from their parents. Living in a remote village, away from social life and entertainment is not easy for a city bred person. It was a struggle but without struggle, success has no value.
He says, ”The village we live in is a small village with only six houses. The houses have no boundary walls. Every evening we gather to talk about our day. The Landlord’s mother, Dadi, who lives with us, has many stories to tell about her life, the village, and this becomes our daily dose of entertainment. Even though we live in a remote area, we are active on social media. We try to balance our
physical(Analog) and digital life.”
“It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.”― Aaron Lauritsen. This is how the people of Dhanur Gaon made them feel and they feel grateful for that.
They aim to blur boundaries and cross-stitch design, science, art, technology, economics to bring out newer perspectives and developments through conversations on their podcast – Tiny Farm Friends Podcast. https://youtube.com/channel/UCOHseDAYH54ZxtV7-E0iaOg
They enjoy connecting, collaborating with people working with or for nature on their discord group. Focus is to build an intentional community interested in sharing resources and knowledge to act on climate change.
They want to create a small ecovillage with mud houses, biomaterial labs where eco-conscious creatives could live with the indigenous people to generate solutions for the environmental crisis.
As artists, they also create artworks by combining natural materials and new media. Their artwork created with mycelium (the vegetative part of mushroom) was selected for an exhibition in Vienna, Austria.
Ansh is also collaborating with artists in Canada and New York.
As a studio, they also create digital products such as printable calendars. They are planning to host workshops for people interested in learning about natural buildings.
Raghav says,”Living remotely has its struggles, but it has been
completely worth it so far. Nature rewards you in mysterious ways.
This is one of the best decisions we have taken and have no regrets.”
You will not fulfil your purpose in life without stepping outside your comfort zone or know what you are capable of, if you give in to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. You won’t make the positive impact you want, in your community and world, without following your calling.
Instagram – @tinyfarmlab
Email id- [email protected]
Cell no – +91-9501580222
Podcaste link – https://youtube.com/channel/UCOHseDAYH54ZxtV7-E0iaOg
Team Nomad salutes Raghav and Ansh in their endeavour. They believed that If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. And they are actually living the life of their dream and have set an example for others to follow. Real heroes in the making. Kudos to the Kumar brothers.
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