The Nilgiris are an ancient mountain range in South India, home to Adivasi (indigenous) communities including the Toda, Kurumba, Irula and Kota peoples.
This is where the work of The Nilgiris Foundation, a non-profit registered in the USA that actively supported indigenous and sustainability organisations in India, has its heart and soul.
Here, in the town of Ooty in Tamil Nadu, a very special restaurant named Place To Bee – named for the indigenous peoples’ deep affinity with apiculture – celebrates and restores to their rightful place culinary traditions that are fast disappearing.
Place To Bee urgently needs USD$15,000 in order to continue its operations. This fundraising campaign by The Nilgiris Foundation aims to ensure that Place To Bee can be rejuvenated – and can thrive.
Place to Bee is community-owned and community-run by Aadhimalai, a collective of tribal producers who are affiliated with The Nilgiris Foundation. Aadhimalai is wholly-owned by 1609 indigenous shareholders across the Nilgiris, and is women-led both in terms of its workforce and its board of directors. It supports the incomes of over 4500 families, from whom forest and agri-produce are purchased and to whom profits are circulated back to.
As a community-run endeavor, Place to Bee is in urgent need of funds to revive operations that were badly affected by the pandemic.
The new Place To Bee will be a unique slow food destination where visitors will be able to enjoy indigenous delicacies made authentically with local ingredients – in a cheerful space that is deeply-rooted in the rhythms of the region, and the peoples whose ancestral lands provide these vibrant forms of sustenance. Just below the restaurant will be a community space that will serve as a fresh harvest market and a showcase of indigenous talent.
Once the funds have been raised, these objectives will be accomplished within six months.
This is how the funds raised through this campaign will be utilized:
- Training, accommodation in Ooty and three months’ salaries for two new cooks from the indigenous villages. The training will comprise of requisite restaurant-standard kitchen skills, menu curation that will appeal to urban patrons and visitors while retaining authenticity and how to engage with clientele on topics like the cuisine and produce so as to raise awareness about slow food and Place To Bee’s ethos.
- Three months’ salaries for existing staff members, as well as operational costs.
- Procuring requisite supplies, and additional, better quality equipment for the restaurant. This includes a new workstation in a newly-expanded space, as well as adding more shelving and storage.
- The community center in the space below the restaurant. This will showcase and be the point-of-sale for indigenous produce such as millets and legumes, responsibly-sourced wild honey, and NTFP (non-timber forest produce) such as spices and fruit, which have been grown and made into value-added items such as soaps, preserves, and so on, by the indigenous people. To create this space, funds are needed for civil work, labour wages, design, and furniture.
If Place To Bee does not raise the required funding within the next few months, the restaurant and its community space may have to permanently close down.
We warmly invite your contributions to ensure that the beautiful culinary and cultural experiences that Place To Bee will provide visitors, and the livelihoods it will support among thousands of indigenous families in the Nilgiris, can continue to make a meaningful mark on our world.
We also welcome your support in other ways. Please get in touch with us to find out more about collaborative projects, internships, volunteering and more. Let us make a difference that really matters, together.
To support the campaign to revive Place To Bee, please click on the “Donate Now” button that you can see on the left of your screen, which will take you to the GoFundMe page where you can make your contribution.
We also warmly request you to share this link [https://www.gofundme.com/f/fvx9z3-indigenous-restaurant-urgently-needssupport] widely with your contacts and on social media, to spread the word about this campaign to save this unique cultural and culinary destination.