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Return to the Roots

Joel and his six friends travelled and researched extensively across India for seven years,finally choosing to stay in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.

Written by Parul Bajaj |
February 28, 2012 3:52:53 am

A group of like-minded people have created a space for new philosophies and products

Every product here tells a story,of people and places. It’s a space and initiative that connects communities and concepts — like a meeting ground for like-minded individuals,who love the environment,have an appetite for organic food,appreciate art,admire hand-crafted products,are aware of healthier and natural alternatives and are willing to look beyond the apparent. My Earth Store is the brainchild of a group of “Earth loving” friends from diverse backgrounds of design,consulting,corporates and farming,who work with rural communities across India including artists,potters,musicians and promote their hand-crafted products,textiles,herbal cosmetics,tribal music instruments,naturally grown food and hand-painted items priced Rs 50 onwards.

“The store spreads awareness among consumers to choose wisely about what they eat and what they buy. It helps them in knowing the impact of their choices in the context of their health and in the larger context of the environment and communities. It’s a platform for farmers,artists,authors and musicians to showcase their labour of love and promote locally grown,produced and crafted things,” shares 36-year-old Anish Joel,who brings the concept to Panchkula two years after starting it in Dharamshala.

Giving up a corporate career in Delhi to pursue an “alternative and natural way of life”,Joel and his six friends travelled and researched extensively across India for seven years,finally choosing to stay in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. It’s here that they saw the work being done by rural communities and NGOs in the field of farming,craft,textiles,naturally grown food and decided to work on a model,with an objective to generate income for rural communities,and to bring high-quality natural products to consumers. “The initiative took shape as My Earth Store,” says Joel as he gives you a tour of inspirational stories that line the shelves. Himachal Pradesh,Uttaranchal,Jammu and Kashmir is where most of the range of organic dry ration,herbs,teas,honey,organic and natural processed foods like pickles,jams,peanut butter,ladoos etc come from. In direct contact with farmers,who still follow natural farming and organised groups,who help these farmers sell,the idea is to bring back products which are enriching for the body,mind and soul. “There are so many pulses,range of flours and millets that we just don’t eat any more and we hope to build a link for everyone’s benefit,” explains Joel.

In the textiles segment,the racks are chock-a-block with hand-woven shawls by rural artisans from Uttarakhand,home decor items from Kerala,West Bengal,herbal cosmetics,massage oils,hand-crafted candles and essential oils. “Every village has a traditional product and the need is to connect it to the market,adding value to the lives of many by providing employment,money,and in the process expanding awareness,” says Joel,as he points to the indigenous tribal music instruments and the hand-painted lamp-shades. Joel has invited local studio potters to display their works here,hoping to open the space for local artists,authors,film-makers,poets to get together and also have informal exchanges.

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