Have you ever paused to think about the abandoned plots around you that are now dumping yards?
A vacant plot in Kumaran Asan Nagar on the Kaloor- Kathrikkadavu stretch in the city was one among those waste dumps till a year ago. In November last year, a group of housewives in the locality took up the initiative of turning the plot into a vegetable garden.
They started their farming venture as a team of twelve on the eight cents that lay waste. The beginning was with the meagre amount that they collected from among themselves.
Now, the plot is properly fenced, well-irrigated and is teeming with tapioca, banana, papaya, lady’s finger, spinach, egg plant, turmeric, drumstick, chilli, ginger, colocasia etc.
“Levelling of the land was the toughest task we faced,” says Valsala Dharmarajan, who retired from a private company.
“The land itself had lost its fertility when we started as the place was strewn with wastes of all sorts, especially plastics and building materials,” adds Thankamani Philip, a housewife.
The seeds and saplings were collected from various places, some from their own backyards, others from the Agriculture Department and still more were bought from street vendors. The women have managed to grow a wide variety of vegetables, despite the land being soggy and infertile.
“The idea of converting this plot was to produce organic vegetables,” says Raji Ramachandran, a retired employee of the Naval Base.
The yield from the garden is sufficient for the twelve families of women and is shared equally among them. The excess produce is sold to earn funds for further development of the garden. A hurdle they now face in expanding their cultivation is the difficulty in obtaining superior quality seeds and saplings.
The Kumaran Asan Nagar Residents’ Association and the members of the Gents Club in the colony support the activities of these 12 women. So do their family members. “The entire farming is done using organic manure and we hope the initiative will inspire more people to take up this initiative,” the women add.
The team also includes Alice Manoj, Shanthi Nainan, Philo Jose, Philo Mathew, Eena Alex, Valsa, Jessy Alexander, Somy Kuriakose and Valsa Abraham. They put aside at least an hour every day to tend to their ‘little farm’, as they call it.
The venture has added a lot of spice to their otherwise monotonous lives.