Although a software engineer by education, Rohit was always drawn to the concept of social entrepreneurship. Soon after graduating college, he rejected the many corporate offers that came his way and decided instead to work with tribal communities in north Gujarat to help them to address their concerns regarding their education and livelihood. These communities were primarily agrarian, and Rohit soon realized that many of them were being compelled to abandon their fields and move to larger cities citing their inability to provide for their families by relying on agriculture. Rohit also witnessed firsthand how the farmers’ fields were being destroyed by chemical and pesticide-reliant modern farming practices, which didn’t just reduce the soil’s yield but also reduced the nutritional content of the crop that was grown on it. This led Rohit to conceive and eventually found Banyan Roots.
The creation of Banyan Roots was hardly serendipitous for Rohit who had, by this time, already been associated with numerous social and charitable causes. Working as a coordinator for the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Rohit first came across the Mahatma’s Gram Swaraj ideal. He was subsequently involved with the UNICEF Child Right Project, which led him to North Gujarat and his interactions with the local farmers. He subsequently undertook the Green Fellowship programme by Shikshantar in Udaipur, through which he researched traditional and sustainable farming practices in Rajasthan.
To take this cause to increasingly larger platforms, Rohit has presented his innovative Vat Vriksh model at the World Organic Congress in Turkey, and participated as a delegate from India to the We Feed the Planet Expo in Milan, Italy. In addition to fulfilling his responsibilities as the Director and Proprietor of the Vat Vriksh Foundation, under whose aegis the Banyan Roots brand was founded, Rohit is a Management Committee Member of the Organic Farming Association of India, where he represents the Organic Farmers of Rajasthan. He is also a Coordinator and Founder Member of the Slow Food Udaipur Network, a member of the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organization, a member of the international Slow Food Youth Network, a Public Relation Advisor for the Asian Agro-History Foundation and a Learning Academy Member of Em Peace Labs of Arizona State University.
Julie cast aside her degree in education to pursue her lifelong passion for cooking. Hailing from a rural community herself, she recognized the importance of preserving the traditional recipes that are prepared in village kitchens. She decided to dedicate herself to reviving these recipes and sharing these with consumers in urban communities.
At present, Julie oversees product research and new product development at Banyan Roots. She has contributed towards enhancing Banyan Roots’ repertoire by introducing new value-added products such as snacks and processed foods, and has also developed several exciting recipes such as millet cookies that nourish and tantalize the palates of Indian and international consumers. Julie is also developing a local slow food catering service, the raw materials for which are sourced directly from farmers associated with Banyan Roots. Julie also organizes traditional food festivals to popularize traditional and local preparations. Together with Rohit, she has authored a book of traditional maize recipes called Traditional Maize Flavour.
As a son of a traditional farmer, Sawarlal found that the vision of Banyan Roots deeply resonated with him. He is a member of our core team and has been a part of the company since its inception. He brings to Banyan Roots his hands-on expertise in traditional farming and processing methodologies. At present, he is responsible for overseeing the processing of the produce generated by the farmers at Banyan Roots.