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| Last Updated:: 29/12/2014

Connect with your roots

Connect with your roots

The Hindu by Bhumika K., Bangaluru, 27th December 2014

LEARNING IN SCHOOL And taking lessons back home

ADULTS TOO Need to be in the loop

Priti Rao’s Soil And Soul challenges people to start making changes in their lives — to start composting waste, grow vegetables, make house cleaners, grow native plants and use their products


When you hear Priti Rao talk about growing her own vegetables, composting, making her own citrusy bio-enzymes to keep things clean at home, making her own moisturising creams, reducing her home’s water consumption by half, not throwing away any trash from the house except once in about 20 days, baking biscuits so she won’t be left with biscuit wrappers from store-bought ones, you would think she lives on some other planet. But no, she lives in our very own Bengaluru’s Banashankari.


What started as an experiment in her home about four years ago, has now grown a little wider to include adults and children who also want to learn about these things. Soil And Soul is Priti’s initiative that hopes to get people to understand and be involved in their own homes, apartments, communities and neighbourhoods about how they can reduce waste, grow and use products of local plants, reduce their carbon footprint in their own small way, conserve water and so on. In her eyes, all these are interlinked.


“I’m not into awareness programmes. We’ve dwelt on it for too long. It’s time for action,” stresses Priti, who quit her 10-year corporate career, with a desire to do something else. “My journey started with questions like ‘what am I feeding my family?’, ‘what is going out of my house as trash?’, ‘what are we consuming at home?’ ‘are there alternatives to what we are doing?’,” says Priti. She started composting kitchen waste, growing veggies, then discovered citrus peels can’t be composted, so figured out a way of creating bio-enzymes from them. “I use bio-enzymes to clean chimneys, the kitchen slab, the toilets — they don’t kill germs; they eat them up. These are basic we learnt in school but haven’t figured how to implement them.”


With experimenting, she was soon making everything from tooth powder and insect repellent to skin rejuvenators and house cleaning agents! “You don’t really know what is in the products you consume. Your moisturiser reaches your blood within 20 seconds of applying it. Do you know what’s in it? Everyone also speaks of water conservation, not contamination.


The detergents we use leach into the soil through water and come back to us as vegetables.” She has switched over to soapnut as the washing agent; the water from the washing machine can be run into the garden. “But you can’t do that when you’re using chemical detergents. Since then I have had an amazing reduction in water consumption in my house,” she says. Priti also points out that many of these products are nothing new and some of these products and practices have been part of Indian homes for generations ago, but we’ve just forgotten them. “I am also a practitioner of the Bihar school of yoga and have incorporated yoga into these programmes,’ she adds.


While she sells her products, she’s happier teaching people to make their own, says Priti. She does many kinds of workshops — Introductory Workshop on Natural Living Choices, Ethno Medicinal Healing Trail, Organic Farm Trail, Weekend Farm Retreat, Dairy Farm Trail, Urban Forest Trail starting with kids as young as five years. She also offers birthday and anniversary parties to be held amidst a learning environment on a farm so people not just enjoy but also open their eyes to such practices.


Priti’s also installed a biogas at home that runs on kitchen waste and parthenium weed from empty sites in the neighbourhood, she says. “Sometimes neighbours bring over their kitchen waste too! And the slurry goes into the garden for the plants.”


In schools she conducts programmes where she conducts themed projects, where children work on various projects though the year and implement it on premises; it may be an afforestation programme or a water treatment programme.


Till date, Soil And Soul has trained over 1,000 children and a little over 200 adults, says Priti. “We started programmes for adults recently because children find it difficult to implement some of the things they learn, until the awareness is also there in adults.


For details call 9980-791637 or check,