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Meet the geek who moved from the US to Himachal Pradesh to help animals recover and build houses from used beer bottles

Jubin Mehta
1st Nov 2016
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peepal-farm-campus
Peepal Farm Campus in Dhanotu village

It was probably in early 2015 that we met Robin Singh at his farm in Dhanotu village near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. I strongly recollect how both of us squirmed at everything clickbait and as a testimony to that, it only makes perfect ironical sense to have a clickbait title for this article. Robin has a story worth telling from all angles, irrespective of whether one takes a look at his journey as a teenager who learned to code and was able to make some good money in the US or from the perspective of the so-called turn of heart and how he returned to his birth land to reduce the suffering around us.

Peepal Farm was started about two years ago with the intention of setting up an animal recovery centre and vegan organic farm which would conduct sustainability experiments. And two years down the line, if one looks back, they’ve done a phenomenal job. Started by Robin along with Joellen Anderson, Peepal Farm primarily works to alleviate the pain of animals. There are a lot of not-so-nice practices in Indian villages like cows being left to fend for themselves in the open and beaten after they stop giving milk or grow old, people having a bias towards male dogs, and some more such practices which make us less human.


robin-farm

I remember Robin saying,

I contemplated shooting myself looking at the suffering every act of consumption causes but then that wouldn’t have been an improvement on the situation. The only logical reason I found to keep on living
was to reduce the suffering around us.

Robin had shared when we first met on the sidelines of his upcoming farm. Robin had picked up coding fairly quickly in his life, enabling him to get a job in the US and then start up e-junkie, which lets makers sell online. Talking about its origin, Robin writes on his blog:

E-junkie started as a script I wrote for myself when I was selling a $4 software in the year 2003. I did not want to wake up in the middle of the night to check my e-mail and send it out using my dial-up connection. The script worked great and did all my work. Soon, a couple of my friends started using it and I kept modifying the script to suit their needs. It was a fun project, to begin with, a labour of love kind of thing.
Jo at the farm
Jo at the farm

Operated from the US and New Delhi, the company is now run primarily by Robin’s friends Jai and Adi who took over the reins of this 30-odd-member company.

Robin’s journey started in 2012 when he came to India and visited Auroville in Pondicherry. A beautiful place which has sown the seeds of sustainability in many across the world, Auroville also turned out to be the place where Robin found some roots and direction as to what he could do to settle the growing discomfort within himself. “There was this strong desire to give back to the society and play a role in making this earth a better place,” Robin had mentioned.

He met someone who was taking care of a huge lot of abandoned dogs, which was when he realised just how much they suffer. He could also have done something to help other humans, but who would take care of all the animals humans harm? This was the logical reasoning Robin’s mind came up with when looking for a worthy cause to devote his time to. He started out with a sanitisation programme in Delhi which still runs strong and a couple of years down the line decided to move closer to nature and find a larger piece of land where he could completely devote himself to the cause. This is how the Peepal Farm came into being in 2014.

The farm is now a flourishing recovery centre where they take in all kinds of injured animals from dogs to mules to cows and nourish them to health. “We’ve a recovery centre and not a shelter, which means we’ll release the animals from where we found them or find a home for the animals where they’ll be safe,” says Robin. The farm runs a volunteer programme where anyone can work at the farm in return for food and stay. A vegan farm, the place follows all sustainable practices and volunteers are involved in all the functions of a daily life from farming to taking care of the animals to cooking to building.

Robin Singh building a kennel from mud and beer bottles
Robin Singh building a kennel from mud and beer bottles

Chameli the donkey and Pushpa the horse who have been nursed to health (read more):


chameli-and-pushpa

Saving Rim Jhim the cow, who came in as an accident victim (read more):


rim-jhim

Or running a campaign like ‘Desi dog, Desi log’ which encourages people to adopt local dogs instead of foreign breeds:


desi-dog

The entire campus at Peepal Farm has been built with salvaged wood, stones and mud and Robin doesn’t have to try to use everything sustainable. A large vision with a noble cause, Robin, Jo and their team are at it 24*7, 365 days a year and this is their joy which is a beautiful thing to see. The tale behind Peepal Farm makes a compelling story for all things #SlowTech and we wish them all the very best in their endeavours.

If anyone wants to be a part of the Peepal community, do something similar in their area, feel free to write in to us at slowtech@yourstory.com. Know more about Peepal Farm on their website and follow them on their FB page

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