We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.― Howard Zinn

Originally from Burujupalli, Kadapa district in Andhra Pradesh, Vishnu is a software engineer at Torry Harris Integration Solutions (THIS). Like the many techies that call Bengaluru their home, he too had eventually settled into his daily routine, which unfortunately left him with very little time to visit home. “Before the pandemic, I spent very little time at home. Since going home meant I would have to take leave, I couldn't give time to activities outside of spending time with my parents and siblings,” says Vishnu. However, the pandemic and the subsequent work-from-home (WFH) policy placed Vishnu in a unique position. Now that he was, quite literally, working from home, he had time to attend to work and try out activities he didn’t have the bandwidth for previously.

It was under these circumstances that Vishnu discovered his interest in farming. “Life is full of ironies,” says Vishnu. “My father had always encouraged me to pursue interests outside of farming since he didn’t want to burden me. But life has now come full circle!”

Vishnu had been able to put aside some money that he wanted to invest in his newfound passion. While his father was initially resistant to the idea, he set up a meeting with the village elders. “Since I didn’t have my own land, I had to first talk to landowners. Thankfully, there were various interested parties willing to rent me their land,” recounts Vishnu. “I began by growing all types of chillies. After months of hard work, I was finally earning around sixty thousand rupees per month from my produce. However, keep in mind I had to pay a third of that to the owner of the land.”

Vishnu attributes a large part of his success to the use of organic fertilizers. "During my time at Torry Harris, I learned to value sustainability and sustainable development and practices. There was no way I was going to use harmful chemical fertilizers to fast track my harvest when I knew it could damage the plants and harm the farming community.”, said Vishnu when we asked him about his decision. Even though he admits it was difficult at first to match the produce of farms using chemical fertilizers, he was adamant not to use shortcuts to succeed. "Farming has a special place in my heart now, and I'm not in it for the money. I feel I now have a responsibility towards my community to steer them towards sustainability and change their collective behavior and mindset."

Within six months, Vishnu had accumulated enough experience to graduate from chillies to mosambi, groundnuts, and several other types of produce. With steely determination and an unbridled passion for farming, he had managed to not only overcome the initial challenges but push beyond to new frontiers.

At Torry Harris, we are in awe of the stance Vishnu has taken. Not only has he transformed his passion project into an initiative for a better future, but also taken a leadership role in his community to promote sustainable farming practices. "Change is always difficult, but the farmers here are slowly responding to my message. I have been showing them the long-term benefits of using organic fertilizers, and now that they can see it for themselves, quite a few are warming up to the idea. I know there's a long way to go, but I'm not backing down.” said Vishnu, who seems determined to bring a sustainability revolution to his village.

Today, Vishnu regularly visits Kolimigundla, around 50 km from his hometown, to procure raw materials for organic farming. He also sets time apart every day to watch various channels on YouTube, to learn about the latest developments. And mind you; he is pursuing his passion while fulfilling his job responsibilities. When we asked him about his goals, he said, "in the long term, I'm not sure, but for now, I want to create a culture of sustainable development. What better place to start than home?” We're proud of Vishnu for making the most out of a difficult situation and rising to the occasion. So, don't wait for the next global pandemic to pursue your passion. Push beyond and lead the way towards a sustainable and compassionate future.