I remember traveling in the early morning of Jan. 2, 2019, unsure if I was prepared to embark on a new journey with eight strangers for six days. Filled with excitement to face a new experience, and anxiety about whether I would like that experience, I got into the van that took us to Gita Nagari Eco Farm and Sanctuary in Port Royal, Pennsylvania.
Established in 1974, Gita Nagari is a 350 acre, non-profit organization. The farm is focused on sustainable practices and is primarily a space that invites various volunteers to experience a cow-centric community and participate in their organic projects.
Gita Nagari has the first and only United States Department of Agriculture Certified dairy farm in North America. The farm is operated by a team of volunteers from very diverse backgrounds whose sole aim is to improve the welfare of the earth through compassionate living. On most commercial farms, cows are slaughtered at the age of five or six, after they stop producing milk. Conversely, the oldest cow at this eco farm is about 26 years old, and is respected and loved out of compassion and her right to live like any other living being.
Nine other KSC students traveled with me to Gita Nagari; eight of them were strangers whom I was hoping and praying to have a good time with. By the end of the trip, one of our greatest strengths proved to be how closely we had bonded. Gita Nagari provided a safe and a homey environment where we could easily open up to one another.
Spending six days on the farm was a life-changing opportunity. We had many experiences that caused us to reflect on our lives and our ways of living. I will definitely miss cuddling the cows, spreading hay, working in the greenhouse, landscaping, camping, early morning yoga and meditation, challenging myself every day physically and mentally, enjoying the delicious, healthy vegan food and everything else I did on the farm.
Social justice was a major part of the trip. KSC students were little droplets in Gita Nagari’s huge ocean of compassion. However, Gita Nagari is just one drop in the big ocean of a sustainable world. Our time on the farm helped us understand the big picture, and realize our importance as individuals. We felt grounded, awakened, enlighted, empowered and, most importantly, we felt like ourselves at Gita Nagari. It was a divine experience to become connected with our inner selves, each other, the cows, the people around us and the land.
Words cannot express how much this experience changed my perspective. I recommend Alternative Break trips to every KSC student.
Puja Thapa can be contacted at