The primary objective of the Gurukul is to provide farming enthusiasts, the opportunity to stay for extended periods on the farm and learn by directly toiling under the farmer. The program is open to everyone irrespective of gender and age. All that you need to have is lots of curiosity and hunger to learn, a healthy body to enjoy the hard toil of a farm life and tonnes of enthusiasm and humor. Every job is sacred and no work is considered menial. Be warned that the farmer does not suffer people who are not hard working and not time conscious.
The minimum commitment for a long term apprenticeship is six months after which it may be extended on mutually agreed terms.
The apprentice has to pay a monthly fee of Rs. 15000/-. This amount has to be paid in advance at the beginning of every month and is not refundable even if the apprentice leaves without completing the full month.
For deserving apprentices, after three months, the apprentice will get a monthly stipend of Rs.15000/-. Hence, for such apprentices, there would be no effective cost if he/she stays and works for the entire period of six months. In the first three months, the apprentice pays (in advance) a monthly fee of Rs. 15000/- towards boarding, lodging and training. In the next three months, the same amount is returned as a stipend. So in the end, there is no monetary cost incurred by such an apprentice. This is entirely at the discretion of the farmer and usually reserved for deserving apprentices who cannot afford the monetary cost of the apprenticeship.
Rustic accommodation in shared tents is provided. Apprentices are requested to bring their own sleeping bags. However, they may rent or buy the sleeping bags at the farm. Depending on the weather, many apprentices love to sleep under the open sky. Cots with mosquito nets are available for this purpose. Clean, common, western toilets are available.
Apprentices have to cook their own food. A gobar gas unit and an efficient wood burning stove provides the energy needs of the common kitchen. They may take 1/2 liter milk per day (evenings only) and reasonable farm produce free of cost. The rest, they will have to buy from the Organic Hut (the Farm's organic outlet near the entrance) or from the shops in the nearby town of Vidyanagar. When workshops or conferences are held at the Gurukul, the apprentices can eat with the attendees.
All the apprentices will take turns cleaning the common areas like the kitchen, dining and toilets. They will need to keep the gobar gas operational using the cow dung produced in the Heifer housing in the Gurukul. Additionally, they have to take care of the heifer area, flower and kitchen garden in the Gurukul area. There will be other season specific tasks like collecting wood for the stove and hot water chula, burning the Neem leaves in the evenings to control the mosquitoes in the summer etc. The tents and the surroundings need to be kept clean. Also in keeping with the tenets of the Guru-Shishya style of learning, it is nice if the the apprentices volunteer to do other chores like looking after the farmer's pets etc.
Boisterous partying, smoking, drinking and drugs are strictly prohibited. The local cultural sensitivities are always to be respected.
The apprentices are expected to put in a minimum of six hours of hard labor everyday on the farm. They also need to spend about an hour everyday updating their diary, recording their observations, making notes of the work done and planning for the next day. These will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis by the senior apprentices and occasionally by the farmer. The farmer takes a walk around the farm every morning and this is something not to be missed because you will learn a lot from the farmer's observations and comments. Tuesdays are off but sometimes you may have to take some other day off instead. The farm timings are different for the Dairy and the non-Dairy activities and different in Summer and Winter. The start and close of each session is heralded by the sounding of the farm bell. The timings are as follows -
Morning 3:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Evening 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Morning 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Evening 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Morning 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Evening 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Apprentices can take a holiday on Tuesdays. The day-off may need to be adjusted sometimes based on the requirements at the farm. The Apprentices are expected to stay on the farm for the entire duration of the the six months. If you do take additional holidays, these will be discounted from the calculations of the six month period. In other words, the six month commitment is for actual, physical presence on the farm. Please inform the farmer well in advance if you have any such holiday plans.
There are no internet services currently on the farm. You will have to go to the internet cafe in the nearby town to avail any such facilities. Also, there are no unnecessary distractions like TV but you are sure not to miss these city necessities or have even have time for them.
A small personal locker is available for keeping important documents, cash and valuables. Apprentices are advised not to come with many valuable items. No responsibility will be taken for loss of any item.
Each month on the farm presents its own experiences, challenges and joys and you can choose any period for the apprenticeship. However, if you start the apprenticeship on the following dates - August 20th, Nov. 20th or Feb. 20th you can start off with a formal 15 day training program on Organic and Biodynamic farming conducted by one of the senior apprentices.
There will be a 15 day evaluation period at the beginning of the apprenticeship. The farmer and his senior apprentices will evaluate the new apprentice for his/her fitness, eagerness, commitment, punctuality and overall suitability during this 15 day trial period. If not found fit, the apprenticeship will be terminated at the end of the 15 day period.