Published: 26th May 2021
Permaculture pro from Hyderabad travels across India to teach the course as a way of life
Dharmendra Dada dropped out of the rat race to pursue permaculture with all the passion he could muster. This propels him to spread his love for permaculture far and wide and this is how he does it
Our conversation with Dharmendra Dada began with a disclaimer. "Look, if you are looking for a story of, say, an entrepreneur who has achieved a huge turnover or a techie with a hefty pay package, then by that standards, mine is not a success story." Not that Dada has not been down the road before. In fact, he enjoyed his stint in the corporate jungle while it lasted, but not for a day could he shake off this urge to work for the people to bring about a change. To that effect, he resigned in 2018, his second and final attempt to bid goodbye to the world of the MNC. He worked with various NGOs but what clicked was a Permaculture, a way of life that's in sync with life, course with Aranya Agricultural Alternatives. "After that, I started exploring my options. I did not want to work as a permanent employee with any organisation and craved a certain freedom that would allow me to travel and teach more widely," explains the 38-year-old.
A frame demonstration at Shillong | (Pic: Dharmendra Dada)
After earning a certification in permaculture from Narsnna Koppula and Rosemary Morrow, considered as pioneers in the field, he spread his wings and flew out. Where to? To the Northeast, tribal areas of Odisha and even the Udaipur central jail too. "I started working with communities. No time limit bound me, in fact, nothing did. I would research, find out where there is a need for permaculture and go there to be a part of the change. I've been blessed throughout my journey because I've not just been warmly welcomed wherever I've gone, I've been showered with love and affection as well," says the youngster who pursued his MCA from Andhra University.
He completed his PDC and Permaculture Teachers Training at Aranya and even started facilitating sessions there in 2018
When he turned up at Sahodaya (near Gaya, Bihar), a Trust that works with children, he taught children about permaculture with the help of flashcards, games and everything else that would keep their attention. With the help of children, he even constructed a small pond for all the water that was being wasted from the handpump by putting to use his skills from the Thannal Natural Building Workshops in February 2021. There is very little planning when Dada conducts these workshops for children frankly. He reads the room and sticks to the major tenets of permaculture, which is more a school of thought than anything else.
Soil session in Manipur | (Pic: Dharmendra Dada)
To really understand the impact of what Dada does, you need to have a conversation with him — such are his stories that 20 minutes will extend into an hour without you even realising it. This writer speaks from experience. What struck us most was the work he was doing at the Udaipur central jail where he was teaching inmates how to work with land and nature. "After I concluded my class, one inmate came up to me and embraced me in the warmest hug. He confessed how stressed he was about getting a job after his jail sentence and if he would be able to earn the respect of his people. He said that now that he knows what permaculture is, he will apply his skills to work on his own land. That's the message I wanted to convey, nature has healing properties," says the Srikakulam-born.
He takes a course on environmental consciousness for fellows at Access Livelihoods and when it comes to children, his courses also include team building activities, bringing them close to nature
Dada has been travelling since 2019 and when he does take a pitstop at Hyderabad, where he currently resides, he conducts Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) with different organisations. He has even started Seeds for Sustainability: An Introduction to Permaculture. He has started conducting these online as well. Being closer to nature is so much easier with Dada by your side.
Dharmendra | (Pic: Dharmendra Dada)
- Made from the words permanent and agriculture, permaculture helps create a sustainable way of living
- It is a design school of thought with a strong base in ethics and principles that are in sync with nature
- The idea also is to mimic the sustainable systems that already exist in nature to understand them better
- Using slow and small solutions, valuing renewables and producing no waste are some of its tenants
For more on him reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org