At the Grassroots
The first thing you’d notice about this village nestled in the Edamalayar valley is the sheer bounty of its rainforests. Tree ferns bordering rocks, streams gushing in the monsoon, rich fertile soil where the native people grow coffee and pepper among other crops. The Muthuvar women are traditional bamboo weavers, and there are a few young men who are into bamboo craft. Traditionally the woven baskets are left on the wood stove attic to smoke – for protection from insects and fungus.
Reed bamboo weaver, who is also a great farmer and grandmother.
Specializes in Kannadi paaya. Sits under a giant tree in a thatched structure for her weaving.
A weaver, farmer and mother. Her kitchen floor mats are in Kannadi paaya style.
Says her eyes are giving up on her, but her baskets and kannadi paaya are a visual treat.
Finds time for weaving amidst her packed farming schedule.
The youngest weaver in the group. Works with ease (and a sparkle in her eyes!) on her
exquisite Kannadi paaya mats.
No kind of reed bamboo weaving is a challenge for her. She also tends to coffee and pepper crops.
Dedicated reed bamboo weaver, known for her fine slivers. Also an impossible dog lover.
Light spirited and hard working, he is the one who leads Bambusa harvest hikes.
An artist in his own right, his bamboo skill is reflected in his home’s interiors.
A weaver’s son, a honey harvester, and a good organizer.
One of the youngest Kannadi paaya weaver. Charming and grounded.
Is a sharp learner and has a way of doing things with creativity and finesse.
Traditional weaver with a fiercely independent spirit. Her pouches are quite popular at sales.
Along a tributary of Karuvannur river that flows down from the Parambikulam slopes is a small community of Malayar people. They share their forest domain with the Kadar in the neighbouring village of Anapantham. The access to Karikkadav is through degraded forests interspersed with a drab rubber plantation landscape. One can still spot sambar deer and the stunning Malabar Trogon on wild trails around the village. The women’s group here is into production of beeswax soaps and rubs, herbal hair oils and wild food preserves and pickles.
A wonderful cook and holds the group together with her calm presence.
She is the bubbly younger one with a streak of mischief in her.
The silent worker, she is in charge of soap wrapping, weighing oils, packing and so on.
Knows the forest really well, thanks to her ventures into the wild with her husband.
Another young energy in the group, always carrying a smile and willing to try new things.
The quieter one in the group, she has a keen eye on nature and hence knows harvest seasons well.
A storehouse of native culinary knowledge. The group relies on her for food production planning.
Always carries a stress-free spirit, even in times of crisis at the production unit.
In the fringes of Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary there is a small Malayar village. The community seems to take pride in the fresh air and clear unpolluted waters they are blessed with. Our work in Chimmony is in close partnership with the Eco Development Committee.
Binds the team with her warm, generous spirit and keeps an eye on overall production.
Knows the forest quite well and is the bold yet friendly matron figure.
A patient and dedicated worker, quiet in nature. Has a grand daughter to dote on.
With a string urge to learn and deft fingers, she creates macramé magic.
Is in charge of harvest and coordination of wild foods value addition.
Mother of two, keen learner and carries a gentle spirit.
Balances her family time and work at the paper bag unit with great ease. Does macramé with care.
Apart from Vazhachal, this is our only project village inhabited by the Kadar people. The Kadars were called Kings of the Forest by the British for good reason. Such ease with which they carry themselves in the wilderness and an almost nomadic and zero-materialistic lifestyle. The tailoring and macrame trainings for young women in Anapantham rewarded us with two bright stars. Both are young mothers and spend summer months deep inside forests, gathering forest produce. Then there is a special couple who not only know the forest and its seasons, but also take joy and pride in their experience of the wild.
Enjoys macrame as much as going into the forest with her family on wild forages.
Is in tune with the seasonal MFP harvests, and has refined tailoring skills.
Chandrika & SajuDesignation
Are an asset to the whole enterprise thanks to their knowledge of wild edible resources.
Kummitankuzhi is a non-descript hamlet in Marayur. These young women belonging to the Hill Pulaya community are no longer forest-dependent but have memories of growing up feasting on forest honey and other wild edibles. Their laughter and confidence gives hope to us.
The quieter of the lot, her anklets and planters are great finish.
Her enthusiasm and optimism is infectious. Is good at both macrame and crochet.
Works silently with great speed and focus. Has her roots in Kodaikanal.
Kind hearted and a quick learner recently picked up crochet skills.
A very focused worker but not without a naughty streak of mischief. Skilled in macrame and crochet.
Keen learner and holds the group together with her assuring smile.
Field Coordination and Operations
Oversees production and is in charge of order management. Calm and composed on even the most stressful days. A perfectionist who’s also a percussionist!
Founder & Partner
Dr. Manju VasudevanFOUNDER
An ecologist by training, now works on community-led forest conservation. Is passionate about everything that’s handmade.
Dr. Sreeja KGPARTNER
Agricultural economist and poet at heart, her research addresses climate change and resilience in smallholder producer economies.