Sowing seeds of freedom – the story of Dundamma

One student of seed saving and home gardening at Amrita Bhoomi is Dundamma, a Dalit woman from Kariana Katte in Chamarajanagar District of Karnataka. Dundamma has grown a rich garden with more than thirty vegetables like bottle gourd, pumpkin, snake gourd, radish, many greens like is spinach, amaranth, dill, coriander, as well as roots like tapioca and potatoes. She also has many medicinal herbs and flowers. “This is my pharmacy, this is how I take care of my family’s health,” beamed Dundamma.

“We always had a small plot of land behind our house and I converted it into a kitchen garden. I grow mostly all that we need for our daily consumption, people in the cities are also doing this these days- they have roof gardens.” She exclaims.

Dundamma became weary of the toxic food being sold in the market and the constant need of money to buy food. Through her garden, she has built autonomy for herself and her family.  She says that women must be at the forefront of the food system, “In villages it is us, women who are the ones responsible for cooking and for making a kitchen garden, we have the power to bring slow change.”

Dundamma uses the waste from her kitchen, and manure from her chickens and goat as fertilizer for her garden. She also saves wastewater from her kitchen- that which is used to wash food — to water her garden.

Dundamma got many of her seeds from Amrita Bhoomi during a training workshop. She was so enthusiastic after her experience that she will soon join as a trainer for other women. “I have been giving out seeds to my relatives and neighbours and telling them about the benefits of growing these different plants,” she said.

“I am really happy to see my efforts are working. I am saving money, and I feel proud to feed my family food that is grown and cooked by me. So many beautiful birds have started coming to my garden everyday. It is truly joyful!” says Dundamma.