For 72-year-old Cheru Palakkatt Koya agriculture is not only a way to eke out a living but also the way to a peaceful life. Habitual walk through the little farm land adjacent to his home ‘Prayag’ keeps him vibrant even at this age.
A former employee of the Electricity Department in Tamil Nadu, CP fell in love with farming when he quit his job and returned to his hometown in Farook in Kozhikode.
“I could have gone for any other job than farming but farming came first in the list of my preference purely because I belong to a family of traditional healers,” says CP.
“My great grandparents were well-known healers in the district who used to grow medicinal plants in the yard,” he adds.
Following the legacy he grew several medicinal plants on his one acre land in Mavilikkadavu in Kozhikode where he has tried growing almost all available plants.
“When I started planting saplings on my land I had not received any support from others. Most of them felt my move weird. Several people laughed at me and advised me to construct a flat instead. But I have no regrets. Now I am relaxed and better than when I was in Tamil Nadu,” he says.
While introducing the plants seen only in books CP says, “Nobody has time to set up even a kitchen garden in the backyard of their homes. Instead of blaming the farmers of other states for spraying chemical pesticides on vegetables, why don’t we set up a garden in our homes. Moreover growing plants can reduce stress.”
Bush pepper, spinach, brinjal, rudraksha plant, green chilli, Nagpur orange, butter fruit, aryaveppu(neem), curry leaf, East Indian red wood (pathimugham),devil tree (analivegam), thorny fruit (mullatha) and Ooth are some of the plants in his farm. At present he cherishes to be a member of several environment protection committees.
“I believe that only those who do their bit for the environment has the right to ask others to do so too. I am and will be a farmer who allows nature to remain as it is,” he says.
CP was not active in the social activities until he found a space among the natives as a natural farmer. “It took years to plant saplings of various medicinal plants on my yard and to evolve as an environmentalist,” he quips.
“He is always delighted in the company of plants. Whenever he gets time he rushes to his yard,” says his wife Jameela who extends whole-hearted support to her husband in farming. “We share same dreams and interests when it comes to plants, she further adds.
At times he dons the role of a photographer to capture and document the activities of the environment protection committees such as Green Community, Organic farmers Association of India, POSHAK and many more.