Empowering over 25 local communities in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

Porivarai Workshop

The Porivarai Workshop is a space for the activities of the Porivarai  community club in the Nilgiris. It focus on promoting and preserving indigenous tribes’ traditions, sustainable and wild food, and eco-development practices.

Nilgiris Wild Food Festival 2022

The Nilgiris Wild Foods Festival is a four-day annual celebration of wild & cultivated indigenous and organically grown local produce of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. Bringing together indigenous cooks & growers, renowned chefs, organic farmers, artists, writers, musicians, local residents, and visitors, it is an endeavour to spread awareness and preserve the myriad native food traditions, and culinary knowledge from the region.

Community Foundations in NBR

Community Foundations is an ongoing initiative of Keystone that emphasises on strengthening local resources and capabilities and promoting local philanthropy to help shift power closer to the people. At present, two community-led organisations in the NBR—Porivarai (run by the Irula community, Aracode) and Thoduve (run by the Paniya and the Kattunayakan communities, Nilambur)—are being supported by the Global Fund for Community Foundation (GFCF). The GFCF supports people-led development aided by local philanthropy, an active network of community initiatives and leadership models.


Aadhimalai is a producer company that procures, showcases and sells the produce from the tribal community. The produces include forest honey, beeswax products, gooseberries, soapberries, shikkakai, silk cotton, coffee, millets, spices, jams, pickles and health powders. Aadhimalai currently has 1609 shareholders belonging to various indigenous communities in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The major active centres of Aadhimalai are in Bangalpadigai, Hasanur, Pudukad, Pillur.

Food Sovereignty, Local Empowerment

Food security is about having access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets one’s dietary needs and food preferences at all times while food sovereignty is about having control over the food one produces. 

This project aims to achieve both food security and sovereignty for the marginalised communities in the NBR by conserving traditional food knowledge and strengthening local action to understand community nutrition, promote local foods, understand agro-ecological inputs, diversify crops for sustainable farming, to name a few.

Image: Ritwick C Doraiappah

Indigenous Journalism, Community Radio

The longest-running collaborative (since 2007) initiated by Keystone Foundation is in the area of Community Journalism. Adept at news collection, writing, reportage and journalism, community members from diverse indigenous groups categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) by Indian state governments, work on the ground to fill knowledge gaps that exist within these communities.


Volunteers are a big support to every organisation. A continual change is possible only when the members of civil society get actively involved in the process. Keystone offers many opportunities to volunteer and to be an active part of the organisation’s work for the welfare of the marginalised sections of society. We encourage individuals from every walk of life to be a part of our work.

If you wish to travel, stay and experience the Nilgiris, we welcome you to spend one to three months on our hill campus in Kotagiri. You can experience the Nilgiris and be a part of the work and life in the hills. You can contribute your time and expertise to one or more of these projects: Place to Bee – Slow Food Restaurant, Aadhimalai Producer Company, Radio Kotagiri – Community Radio, Seemai Suddhi – Local Newspaper, Water and wetlands practical conservation in the field, Community Foundations, Beekeeping with local people, Nilgiris Field Learning Centre.