AVANI is a sustainable community nestled in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. The name 'Avani' comes from the Hindi word for Earth. The NAGNATA designers volunteered at AVANI living with the community for 10 days learning about Avani’s environmental conservation work and training with the natural dyeing team.
The journey to AVANI is a long one, travelling on the overnight train from Delhi then a six hour drive through winding mountainous terrain at the foothills of the Himalayas.
NAGNATA focused on the ancient technique of Indigo vat dyeing. The designers learnt how to extract natural indigo pigment from the green leaves of an Indigofera species of plant. Fermenting the leaves to create a thick indigo dye-paste, which is then dried and ground down into indigo dye powder. The process takes a few weeks and is one of the most complicated extractions of natural dye colours.
NAGNATA hand dyed a capsule collection of organic cotton tees that were made in Australia and hand dyed in India at AVANI.
NATURAL DYES AT KRINKLEWOOD BIODYNAMIC VINEYARD_ Before arriving to India, NAGNATA collaborated with Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard in the Hunter Valley to experiment with natural dyeing on a luxurious range of fine cotton cashmere and wool rib essentials. The designers used left over Shiraz grape skins and seeds from last vintage and organic turmeric from the farm. The NAGNATA tees were left to soak overnight to absorb the pigment and hung out to dry in the sunshine for an authentic sun faded finish.
Like a fine wine or a good vintage tee, these naturally dyed garments get better with age.
LOCAL EMPOWERMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY _ AVANI is a community built on the principles of sustainability and local empowerment. A global network of diverse employees and volunteers give life to Avani’s community and development programs focused on conservation-based livelihood for rural communities.
AVANI began by creating textiles in an effort to increase the income of very poor families while preserving their traditional craft of hand spinning and weaving. This helped create livelihood opportunities while conserving and improving a traditional craft.
AVANI are working on several clean energy technologies including solar energy for rural homes and charcoal as a clean cooking fuel for households. These solutions not only provide clean energy, but also contribute to enhancing biodiversity, a major contributor to reducing carbon emissions.
PINE NEEDLE BIO ENERGY PROGRAM _ AVANI'S Bio Energy Program is an innovation in energy supply and sustainable livelihoods for rural communities in the Central Himalaya. The central component of the program is a pine-needle-fueled power station located at AVANI with local women and men gathering and delivering all the pine needles and other materials needed to sustain the station.
The Bio Energy Program helps create a lasting source of clean energy including low cost cooking charcoal and energy for light and heat, for 100-150 village households as well as stable livelihoods for around 100 families.
The inspiration for this program came from looking for a way to remove the pine needles from local forest floors. The pine needles litter the forest floor during dry summer months and form a carpet on the soil, causing the rainwater to run down the slopes before it percolates into the soil. The highly flammable pine needles cause forest fires that inhibit all other species from regenerating.