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August '02

Going Organic Together
Based on an article by Sunaura published in the AVToday





Pour Tous has grown

Pour Tous has changed and grown throughout the years, reflecting changes within the community. Having begun as a "no money exchange outlet" in the early 70's, Pour Tous, (meaning For All, a name given by the Mother), has grown into a financial service, a store supplying needed foods and goods to the community, a gas bottle service, a shopping service, a basket service and a snack bar. In recent years, the Auroville community outgrew the space of the Pour Tous store, which not only led to crowded, frustrating shopping but to a lack of space for a variety of products, many of which come from our own community. But now things have changed. On the 15th of July, a puja took place at Pour Tous to welcome the changes made by Pour Tous, 'Soruba' and some Auroville units.

'Soruba' promotes home-grown organic food

'Soruba' is a name adopted by a team of Aurovilians who "aim to promote more organic Auroville food products within Auroville," explains Mark who has joined the team and who works on improving Auroville's access to the national market. "It would be nice to change things in Auroville so that we buy more Auroville products instead of the stuff from Pondy. If you buy from Auroville, you contribute to the growth of the community so allowing us to take care of ourselves and be more self supportive." With these aims, Soruba has been working in conjunction with the Pour Tous management team and staff to increase community knowledge of, and accessibility to, more natural Auroville products.

The changes were difficult at first

Before promoting local goods, the Pour Tous store had to be enlarged. Soruba assisted the Pour Tous team with these changes both financially and physically. As Mani of the Pour Tous management team says, "This group has helped us a lot. It has helped Pour Tous make changes that we have been talking about for the last couple of years." Of course change, often readily desired, can also cause confusion. During the first few weeks of change, there were many confused shoppers. The entrance had changed, leaving some individuals standing in front of the old entrance wondering why the store was not yet open. Items that could be found in the same shelf space for years were now in another room altogether. Shoppers zig-zagged this way and that, trying to locate their dinner supplies. Luckily, Pour Tous and Soruba had anticipated these confusions and there were many people available to help. "It was difficult at first," says Mark, "but now everyone is getting used to the changes." Every day now two or three individuals from the Soruba team (which currently consists of Olivier, Mark, Inge, Eliane, Nevi and Krishnaprem), work with the Pour Tous team to help inform, promote and locate our community products.

Thoughts about new marketing possibilities

While focussing locally, Soruba is also working on moving into the currently fast expanding national market. At present, Naturellement, AuroSpirul, and La Ferme Cheese are the main Auroville food products selling outside of Auroville. While supporting the growth of these products, Soruba envisions a future for Auroville where smaller units who may not have the marketing possibilities are given those possibilities through the larger community. "It is possible to unify units under one umbrella," says Mark, "and to unify our efforts toward one idea." If Auroville units work together to help in the promotion of each other, there are possibilities not only to expand marketing, but to realize a greater community participation.

Another ambition of the Soruba and Pour Tous teams has been to bring healthier products to Auroville which are not currently available from our community. For example, some Aurovilians went to Kodaikanal and spoke with distributors of organic vegetables who are willing to supply Auroville fresh vegetables on a daily basis. This not only increases the quality of our produce but also cuts out the wholesaler and therefore lowers our prices.

Plans for the future central Pour Tous

Plans are in progress for a central Pour Tous near the Solar Kitchen that will be another step towards wider distribution and a community support network for Auroville products. In the meantime the recent changes, "Are affecting the community in good ways," says Mani. "The long time Aurovilians especially, who know the

Contact: pourtous@auroville.org.in 


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