Sustainably developed Peepal Farm in Himachal cares for abused animals unconditionally
It’s easy to complain about animal problems, but very few make an effort to do something for their betterment.
A small group of people from diverse nationalities is making a difference in lives of stray animals at a farm in Dhanotu village near Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
At the Peepal Farm, a completely vegan farm – co-owned by Robin Singh and Joellen Anderson – dedicated employees and volunteers are helping animals in need, while themselves living a life as close to nature as possible.
Robin Singh left his illustrious career as an IT company entrepreneur in the US to come back to India to live his childhood dream of serving animals.
Peepal Farm was set up in October 2015 with the intention of developing an animal recovery center to alleviate physical suffering of as many animals as possible.
Over the years, it has developed into a strong Badmash Peepal community that strives to change the existing stereotypes of abusing stray animals. The Peepal Farm visions a more compassionate society for both humans and animals.
In India, there is a general practice of beating and disowning farm animals (including the sacred cow) when they are rendered useless – not being the milk producing machine that they were supposed to be.
Similarly, stray animals are meted out with a lot of disgust. And abandoned animals that meet with accidents are often left on roads to die without assistance.
Such practices make Indians less human, and there is very little that is being done for animals in the country.
This is where Peepal Farm is making the real difference.
The farm is a flourishing recovery center, where weak and old animals are cared for, and injured animals are treated and nourished back to good health.
Badmash Peepal challenges acts of physical violence against cows by making cows wear sweaters made from gunny sacks with images of lord Krishna and “yeh gai meri hai” (this cow is mine) written on it. Krishna is considered cow protector (Badmash Peepal hope, when people see deity’s photo on the cows they will refrain from hitting them).
Robin insists, Peepal Farm is a recovery center and not a shelter – healthy animals are released back from where they were recovered. Some animals are even found homes that would adopt and care for them. There are some animals though that have not been released for some reason, they continue to stay on the farm.
Of course, there are dedicated people on the farm, but it also runs a work-exchange program – a volunteering program – where anyone can provide 36 hours of services on the farm in exchange for accommodation and three vegan meals a day. The volunteers are required be involved in all daily activities on the farm including sustainable farming, taking care of animals, cooking and construction.
Living at the Farm
At the Peepal Farm, survival mantra is simple – care for animals, live sustainably and minimize amount of trash leaving the farm.
Main building at the farm features a passive solar design, which eliminates the need for artificial heating and cooling (using heaters and air conditioner).
The building in majorly constructed from reclaimed wood, mud and locally sourced materials. A lot of bamboo is used to maximize sustainability.
The roof of the building is made from scrap materials and the rooms have many windows for cross ventilation and natural lighting.
There are various sheds and doghouses constructed over the farm area. Most of these are built from used beer and plastic bottles and mud.
Eating at the farm
Almost everything consumed on the farm (by recovering animals and serving humans), is grown on the farm.
The farm does not serve animal products—meat, eggs or dairy, though some egg shells (from boiled egg vendors) and leftover bones (from local butcher) do enter the farm for consumption of ailing dogs.
Natural and organic farming techniques are used to produce some food on the farm. Whatever else is required, is generally sourced from local farmers.
Thinking for the farm
According to Joellen, Peepal Farm tries to reuse and recycle wherever possible, leading a sustainable lifestyle with responsible consumption.
Trash created every day is properly segregated on the farm. While waste paper, wood and clothes are used for fuel, food waste from the kitchen is fed to animals and rest is used for composting. Glass and the metal are the only two things that go out to the landfill.