The RARE Project

Mission: Support the sustainable and ethical cultivation of endangered Himalayan herbs.

OUR APPROACH

Kutki Crew in Gesh (Photo courtesy of The Dunagiri Foundation)

LifeSpa has proudly partnered with The Dunagiri Foundation in support of the protection, preservation, and sustainable and ethical cultivation of endangered Ayurvedic herbs in high-altitude Himalayathe birthplace of Ayurveda and many of our planet’s most precious herbal remedies.

Through an integrated model of education, cultivation and distribution, The Dunagiri Foundation empowers and educates villagers to cultivate these herbs, and discourages illegal wild-harvesting practices in the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.

The RARE project’s first herb of focus is kutki, which was classified as endangered in 1997 due to unsustainable farming practices and severe over-exploitation.

Harvesting kutki (Photo courtesy of The Dunagiri Foundation)

Today, one crop of kutki, grown without pesticides, chemicals or GMOs, is being harvested each year by farmers and villagers in the remote Himalayan village of Gesh. In 2018, LifeSpa purchased the entire kutki crop.

We took a percentage of the crop that we needed to create a kutki product as part of our RARE project line, and we are giving 15% of sales back: 7.5% directly to the growers and 7.5% to The Dunagiri Foundation to help with the cultivation of other endangered herbs.

All the profits from the sale of the remaining kutki crop go directly to The Dunagiri Foundation to support the farmers and villagers who are growing these threatened herbs.

The RARE project provides ecologically responsible and sustainable income for the villagers, and also supports the legal and ethical cultivation of endangered Ayurvedic herbs.

Herbal Profile: Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa)

Purchase Cites-Certified Kutki

THE INITIATIVES

The Dunagiri Foundation supports a variety of initiatives in the Himalayan village of Gesh:

There is still a large amount of illegal Kutki being collected from the wild in India, as well as huge amounts being smuggled into India from Nepal and being sold on the black market. The wild-harvested herbs govern the market value of Kutki, so the farmers are having to sell their Kutki at the black market value. The Dunagiri Foundation’s initiative to support these farmers is to buy Kutki direct from the farmers at a premium rate, drying and post-processing it properly, and finding responsible companies who will buy this premium grade Kutki, rather than buy the smuggled one which is depleting Kutki in the wild.

Empowering and educating villagers to cultivate these herbs, as well as discouraging illegal wild-harvesting practices in this fragile ecosystem is key to preserve the ancient medicine systems that have birthed from these sacred mountains.

Capturing oral wisdom traditions from elders that are being lost and forgotten.

Prashanti De Jager and villagers are hand-building the equipment to harvest, clean, dry and process the herbs using traditional methods.

A village toolshed is being built. There is a dire need for tools, shovels, picks, hoes, hammers, screwdrivers. This village is extremely remote with few if any modern conveniences.

Naulas are the ancient natural springs where some of the world’s purest water comes from. The water is used for both drinking and watering the kutki crop. Through the years, the springs fall into disrepair and begin to disappear. The funds for a traditional Naula structure to be restored will be a deep and fundamental gift to the villagers.

These meeting rooms will be where elders, villagers and children can gather, learn, and teach. Computer technology and solar education will be taught to support their infrastructure.

Thirty yards from the kutki filed are natural bee hives that feed on the kutki flowers. The kutki field is always buzzing with bees. Every home has several hives that are naturally a part of any home built there.The hives are holes in the walls that lead to chambers in the walls! The bees can be supported more through this project.