The ‘Go Green' initiative by Le Meridien, Kochi, undertaken last year, is reaping rich benefits

The staff members of Hotel Le Meridien have proved that they can be green-fingered and green-minded. In a short span of a year they have, along with the in-house gardeners, created a community vegetable and fruit garden. And now take turns regularly to help keep the premises lush green and burgeoning with fruit and vegetables.

This ‘Go Green,' initiated by Rajesh Madan, General Manager of the hotel during 2010 Earth Hour, has now been taken up in right earnest.

Working together

Nearly 40 associates from all departments of the hotel are now part of this team and they take turns in tending patches of the garden allotted specifically to them during their tea interval everyday. “It's not just the sheer joy of working together that keeps us going. There is so much joy to see the flowers bloom, the fruits ready to be plucked, the vegetables sprouting healthy,” says Gloria Mahesh, Executive Secretary, whose plantain patch, which she shares with Sufaira Abdul Kadhar, Manager, now stands luxuriant.

What makes the whole initiative interesting is that the associates are involved in the process right from seeding to gathering the yield. “Of course, thet team of gardeners are at hand. They help us at every stage. The seeds are from our own mother nursery that was started a year back,” adds Sufaira.

The nursery caters to the requirements of the vegetable gardens. “The saplings are nursed here by using quality seeds. From here the plants are shifted to the various garden patches on the premises. We are also in the process of developing a terrace garden. Now the hotel has a wide range of vegetables grown here like cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, chillies, lettuce, spring onion, elephant yam, snake gourd etc. And we are happy that the vegetables have been used in our kitchens. We have plenty of coconut trees and fruits like guava, chickoo, papaya etc.,” says Joseph M. C., the Garden Supervisor.

The best part of the whole initiative is that the hotel has moved a step forward to self-sufficiency. “When we have a wedding reception, the typical Kerala style one, it is usual to have more guests than originally planned. It is never a matter of concern for us to cater to those extra numbers with regard to food. But finding the extra plantain leaves can stump us. Not any longer for we need to just send someone to get it from our garden. The same applies to tender coconut we serve to our guests, flowers, indoor plants etc. We also have an area for herbs like Thai ginger and lemon grass,” informs Sufaira.

The main nursery of the hotel is fully stocked and well-tended. “This has been there right from the time the hotel started. We have various kinds of indoor plants, Bonsais, flowering plants in the nursery. All the indoor plants and Bonsais, like Adenium (11 years) Phycus Benjamina (seven years) Steflora (six years) required for the hotel are nurtured here. We also create Bonsai plants according to the requirement of our guests. We also have flowers like anthurium, heliconia etc. used for flower bouquets and other indoor decorations. We place outside orders only when some of our guests ask for something special. We also have jasmine, other flowering plants like bachelor's button, daisy, lily, and table rose,” says Joseph.

Also in place is a bio-waste plant, where the segregated waste is recycled into manure used in the garden. “We have a reverse osmosis plant that is used to treat waste water which is then used for various purposes. An efficient waste disposal system is in place. Used plastic bottles are used in the main nursery as plant containers; old linen is recycled as aprons, towels, mopping cloth. In fact, we try to reuse and recycle everything possible here,” says Dyne I. U., chief engineer.

The trek along this expansive green oasis finished, you sit down in the spacious lobby that opens into a green world outside to chat with Rajesh Madan. And he sure is delighted with the way things have worked out but is not one to sit back. “We are fortunate to have this much of land where we can experiment. This initiative is only a small way to pay back something to Earth. What started out slowly has gathered momentum. Everyone is keen to join the campaign. We have plans to introduce a paper recycling process soon. Our aim is to raise environmental awareness among our associates, guests and community at large,” says Madan.