In Dhanotua small village near Dharmshala in Himachal Pradesh, Shivani Singh found her calling in helping local women and stray animals through her organization.
Started as a small farm selling only herbs in 2017, Peepal Farm has grown into an animal rescue organization and organic farm. The product line of this female-led social enterprise has grown steadily over the years in a wide range of categories, and the underlying mission has always been to generate more jobs for women and help animals in distress.
From from organic and vegan food to upcycled decor, skin care products and handmade jewelry, the social enterprise run by Shivani ensures that each of these products is handmade by incredibly talented local women. The revenue generated is then used for animal welfare initiatives like medical treatments and raising animal rescue and shelter awareness.
Launched in 2014 by Shivani and her husband, Robin SingPeepal Farm is essentially an animal rescue organization and an organic farm rolled into one social enterprise.
The farm includes a veterinary clinic, a barn and a kennel. The farm takes care of all types of injured animals, including cats, mules and pigs, as well as stray cows and dogs.
Peepal Farm conducts rescue operations within a five mile radius of their parking location and assists them with medical treatment if needed with the assistance of their in-house veterinarians.
animal rescue team
“The goal of Peepal Farm was to help animals heal and be heard. To care for animals in distress, we had an animal rescue program. To help the animals be heard, we wanted to involve the people who visited us and inspire them with our ideas,” says Shivani.
Initially, Shivani started by printing posters and flyers with animal welfare messages, and pasted them up to display in tourist spots, but these often ended up in the trash. Therefore, she turned to making products that could be retailed in local stores, their packaging containing information about what the farm does, who they are, etc.
Beginning with farm-grown herbs, Peepal Farm’s product line has continued to gradually expand into a wide range of categories with another major goal in mind – to generate more jobs for women. Peepal Farm’s various offerings are all handmade by a team of 17 village women.
Farm products are divided into food products (such as spreads, including peanut butter), raw and farm-fresh herbs, recycled products (sachets, hoops embroidered from donated clothing) as well as biodegradable products (cow dung diyas for Diwali, and planters). These are sold on the Peepal Farm website, Amazon and local stores.
Speaking about the sustainable measures taken by the team, Shivani says: “We strongly believe in reducing the carbon footprint in this world – and sustainability plays a major role in that. There is an urgent need to reduce the use of materials that take the longest to decompose and cause enormous damage to the planet and its creatures.
The team tries to keep plastic to a minimum and use cardboard, newspapers and clothing where possible.
“However, plastic is one of those materials that has been at the epicenter of most environmental discussions. No matter how hard we try to minimize its use, we are still bound to use a lot of it.
The team packs the products in Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic jars– which is a highly recyclable plastic resin and a form of polyester.
“Although I was alone when I launched the Peepal Farm products, girls from the surrounding villages joined me in supporting a greater cause. In doing so, they were also creating their own identity. Making them aware of this also became a big part of my job,” says Shivani, adding that with more sales and more work coming in, she was able to give work to more girls in the village.
The team behind Peepal Farm Products
Shivani adds that local women were initially discouraged by their families from going out and working, so it was a challenge at first. However, word of mouth helped and more women started to come forward.
In the past two years alone, farm produce has generated nearly Rs 20 lakhand their contributions have helped the farm rescue and provide treatment to nearly 4,000 animals so far.