Broken Spoke owner Mike Collins and Fertile Ground board member Sarah Kerr want you to donate your old digital camera to support a good cause.

Broken Spoke owner Mike Collins and Fertile Ground board member Sarah Kerr want you to donate your old digital camera to support a good cause.

New Rotary initiative puts old cameras to good use

Cameras will be used by farmers and tea growers in northeast India

Got a digital camera you’re no longer using that’s just sitting on a shelf, gathering dust?

Fertile Ground would love to put it to good use.

The cameras will be used by farmers and tea growers in northeast India who’ll be learning how to create short instructional videos about effective organic farming practices.

The project, part of a new initiative supported by Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club, will involve people living in a number of Assam’s diverse cultural and tribal communities.

Compost-making, use of traditional formulas prepared from local plants that protect plants from insect pests, and the importance of saving local seed varieties are just some of the topics that will be covered, explains local photographer and Fertile Ground board member Sarah Kerr.

To help with the project, two professional filmmakers – Ishana Raj from Mumbai and Krista Slavik from Savannah, Georgia – will travel to Assam early in 2016 with Fertile Ground’s co-ordinator Peggy Carswell.

Slavik, who has worked with farmers and self-help groups in Costa Rica, said video can be a great way for people living in remote areas to share their ideas and experience.

“We found it encouraged lots of discussion about ways to improve the soil and reduce risk of crop losses from pests and disease,” said Slavik.

“After watching the films, farmers have a lot better understanding of practices like composting, are more motivated and have the confidence they need to start experimenting on their own.”

While there are now many short, educational videos about sustainable and organic farming available for viewing and downloading online, the concept has not yet taken off in Assam and other northeast states.

Kerr, who has travelled extensively in the area, says the idea of making videos in Assamese and other regional languages is generating a lot of interest amongst tea growers, NGOs and schools Fertile Ground has been working with.

Cameras in good working condition, (including the instruction book, cables, charger and rechargeable batteries) can be dropped off at The Broken Spoke bicycle shop and coffee house located at 420 Fitzgerald St. in Courtenay.

For more info, visit  www.fertile-ground.org or call 250-337-8348.