Kale brings people together and helps orphaned children! Imagine that.
In my quest for healthy organic food in Rishikesh India, I came across a small sign outside the Pundir Market that said, Ramana’s Garden and Organic food. I found a small cement path that wound through land with unfinished guest houses, and tracks of village farmland growing onions.
Eventually after a series of gates, steps, and a few signs with arrows pointing the way, I found the location.
Prabhavati Dwabha, is an ex Hollywood actress named Maggie O’Hara. She is the Director and founder of Ramana’s Garden Home for Destitute Children. She began this project as a result of her spiritual practice on the banks of the River Ganga.
Ramanas Garden (Ramana Seva Samiti) was founded in 1997 as an orphanage and cafe/resteraunt. Vegetables are grown on site on several small plots on the school property. Around the cafe are volunteer housing, multi-level school buildings, a composting facility, hen house and chicken run, and a cow stable. The orphanage is the home to 55 children and provides an English medium education from Kindergarten to Class V for 137 students.
Grains, pulses, and other food items not available onsite are grown at their location in the Garhwal mountains called the Ambiya Mountain Retreat and Organic Farm. Here they grown enough organic food to supply their children with fresh and healthy organic fruits, vegetables, milk and eggs daily. The farm is managed by a team of local staff as well as volunteers.
The staff at the orphanage and café location in Rishikesh are all volunteer as well. Children in the care of the project work a few hours a day in restaurant and on the grounds (Only if they want to.) The atmosphere in the restraunt is cheerful and hectic. You can opt to eat inside in Ramana’s cozy Northern California living room atmosphere with birds chirping in a large bird house built into a brick wall, or go to the roof and sit at large round tables enjoying the view of the Ganga.
The menu changes daily but is packed full of seasonal organic vegetables that sadly you can’t find anywhere else in Rishikesh. The salad has heaps of kale, chard, spinach, beets, shredded carrots, turnips, onions and more. The chai is made from the milk of cows cared for on the grounds. The brown bread is made of organic wheat grown in the mountains.
Ramanas Garden seems to attract many people all over the world in search of nutritious food. In my many trips to the garden, I met alot of people from Portland, OR, California, New York, Columbia, Brazil, and a few curious locals. I have met everyone from permaculture graduates, mushroom farmers to philosophers all seeking the prakriti of the Kale plant in their travels through the lord of the senses (Rishikesh). The conversations on the rooftop terrace will inspire!
Though the food is pricier than your typical salad at a conventional restraunt, the profit goes directly back into running the orphanage. You can literally see your dollars at work with the children smiling and buzzing about as you eat.
The organic garden is simple. Shade cloth covering the kale is made from old burlap (coffee bags?), that are spread out with rope. The chickens are busy creating nutritious compost and eggs. Everything is planted together, and what we think of as weeds, are neither pulled nor in great number. Butterflies and bugs have free reign. The beauty is that nothing is wasted. The scaps left by customers go into compost to fertilize future food. The dung from the cow provides nutrient dense fertilizer
There is a very good write up on Prabhavati Dwabha, by Sandhya Rajayer, freelance writer. Please go to Showering Warmth
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