ABAC Students Connect with Farmers in India on ‘Our Farm 2 Your Table’ Project

Pradeep Verma, a farmer from Himachal Pradesh in northern India, was featured in the ‘Our Farm 2 Your Table’ website for his efforts to mitigate losses to farmers caused by disruptions of markets by Covid-19. The international ag reporting project was produced at ABAC with a grant from the state department.

TIFTON – Writers from India and across the United States have connected with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College students through the “Our Farm 2 Your Table” project.

Funded by a special grant from the state department, the six-month project gives ABAC students the opportunity to help develop a website and produce stories about how COVID-19 has affected agriculture across the world.

“The idea is to develop international discussions about farming using the commonality of the pandemic to connect farmers in India and the U.S. through writing and Zoom conversations,” said Thomas Grant, ABAC professor of journalism.

Grant said the writers for the project are quite diverse. Some are actual farmers in India, others are Ph.D. professors, and some are ABAC students.  The project gives ABAC students the opportunity to elevate their writing to a more professional level.

Sarah Bostic of Adel, an ABAC senior writing and communication major, said writing for the website has challenged her to step out of her comfort zone on both a creative and a professional level.

“This opportunity with the Our Farm Project has given me the opportunity to reach out to numerous people in the community and to be a mouthpiece for their stories, which is awesome,” Bostic said. “I’ve also learned how to be more in-depth with my writing and not just stay on the surface.”

The website usually posts four stories a week that have gone through an extensive editing process by region coordinators and advisors. Writers get a stipend which acts as an incentive on top of the classroom experience for students involved with the project.

Project partners include Bhaskar Krishnamurthy and CLIC Abroad in Kansas City, the Centre for Sustainable Development and Jitender Verman in Himachal Pradesh, India; and Kavitha Anjanappa, formerly of ATREE in Southern India, who worked with Grant and ABAC students in the 2014-15 documentary, “Elephants in the Coffee.”

“ABAC may be a small, rural college but projects such as ‘Elephants in the Coffee’ and ‘Our Farm 2 Your Table’ give students a chance to think and work on a global scale,” Grant said. “And one connection helps build the next.”

For the “Elephants in the Coffee” project, ABAC students traveled to India thinking it was merely a study abroad trip.Then it became multiple trips and a documentary that won awards around the world.

“Because ABAC developed good relationships in India during that project, we were offered an opportunity to apply for this state department grant,” Grant said.  “It is only for a six-month project, but if we are successful at this, we may have a shot at developing larger projects.”

The ABAC team recently completed its first international meeting between farmers from India and Georgia. The farmers had immense differences, but shared the common love of the land.

While the farmer from India showed the yoke he uses to harness his oxen to plow the fields, the Georgia farmer spoke about the large tractors that he uses to farm thousands of acres under cultivation. One of the highlights for Bostic was assisting Jason Womack, the Georgia farmer, in a Google Meets meeting with the farmer from India.

“The story felt especially personal to me because I was actually there as all the farmers spoke to each other about their farms and how they farm their chosen crops,” Bostic said. “I plan to write about the farmer in the light of interacting with other farmers from India, a united group of farmers coming together to talk about their craft in the midst of a pandemic.”

People around the world are paying attention to how farmers are being affected by COVID-19.  “The Our Farm 2 Your Table” website has been featured in a newsletter of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

To learn more about the project, interested persons can visit the website at http://ourfarm2yourtable.com/.

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