About Grassroots

What makes Grassroots Oils & Herbs unique?  Wild tigers walk through our fields!

Our cultivation sites are in the middle of India in the state of Madyha Pradesh, in an area called Umaria, adjacent to the national park called Bandhavgarh.  About 50 wild tigers live in Bandhavgarh—the highest concentration of any of the national parks in India.   And Grassroots partner and co-founder Brij Bhushan Sharma is deeply, madly in love with wild tigers.

Brij is a wildlife field biologist.  At times in his long career he has worked for the government of India studying tigers.  In order to protect the remaining wild tigers from extinction, Brij has concluded that if you want to save the tigers, you have to first help the people who live closest to them.

Those living closest to the park are tribal people, and they face many of the same challenges that tribal people face all over the world:  there are issues of poverty and lack of opportunity, under-education, poor access to healthcare, and social discrimination.   There is also the additional challenge of living close to wild animals that stray from the park and eat crops—or, in rare instances, eat domesticated animals.

Poaching is the leading cause of death for Indian tigers; there is an insatiable demand outside India for tiger parts to make traditional Asian medicines.  For tribal people living near the park and facing grinding poverty, the financial temptation to collaborate with poachers is enormous. The number of tigers in India has fallen precipitously in recent years.

At Grassroots we wondered: how can we raise the standard of living of those who encircle the park, and rally them to protect the tigers as one of Earth’s rarest resources? The area adjacent to the park is an ecologically sensitive buffer zone that makes farming almost the only appropriate business or industry.  Most of the local people are farmers working small landholdings.  What could they grow that would earn them more money than the usual food crops?

This is how Grassroots Oils and Herbs was born. In collaboration with American partners, Brij formed a company and launched an ambitious program of growing both medicinal herbs and crops that could be distilled into essential oils. We are working directly with the local people. We are hiring them to help cultivate our land, and we are also partnering with hundreds of local farmers by distributing seedlings. 

If we can show that growing medicinal and aromatic crops in the buffer zones near national parks helps alleviate the poverty of tribal people, and protects wildlife in an organic, sustainable way, then this could be repeated all over India.  Everyone wins!

To succeed, Grassroots is employing a combination of for-profit business and non-profit social service.  We support two charitable causes:  T.I.G.E.R., and N.E.T.  Both work with tribal people in areas of education, poverty alleviation, and health services.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

At Grassroots Oils and Herbs, our goal is to have fun while we pursue our four part mission:

Product Mission:  To produce and sell the finest quality essential oils and medicinal herbs.

Economic Mission:  To grow our company profitably and ethically, and create prosperity for our shareholders, our partners, and our employees. 

Social Mission:  To improve quality of life in the communities where we operate, bringing new opportunities to those who have been overlooked and underserved.

Environmental Mission:  To protect the remaining wild tigers of India by improving the social and economic conditions of the people who live nearest to them. 

 

Gallery Photos: 
Indian Woman Carrying Grassroots
Vetiver Plants Under Cultivation
Vetiver Roots
Mature Vetiver Plants
Patchouli Plants Under Cultivation
Doug with Vetiver Plant
Pin Tail Ducks in River
Tribal Workers