The terrace garden on Sulur Panchayat Union office a success

On the terrace of the Panchayat Union office in Sulur, women are busy removing weeds in a seasoned farm that produces organic greens and vegetables.

The women are there as part of a training programme the Rural Development Department is conducting for 15 days.

Objective

C. Srinivasan, the trainer of the programme and director of the NGO Indian Green Service, says that the objective is to train the women to be master trainers in rooftop gardening.

The women, who were earlier members of various self-help groups (SHGs) have come together to form a new group, Kasini SHG, for the purpose.

At the end of the training programme, the women will train people interested in terrace gardening, sell the products required for setting such gardens and also set up terrace garden, if asked for.

This way the group will make money for not only setting up gardens but also selling the required inputs.

Sales

And in selling inputs they will give business to other women SHGs that produce products like baskets, Casuarina stumps and poles, compost, and coco peat.

This group is only the latest to come of the roof top experiment the department started about eight months ago when the Sulur Panchayat Union office was under construction.

Support

With active support from the Panchayat Union Chairman G. Balasundaram and Mr. Srinivasan, the Department staff sourced bamboo baskets from Sathyamangalam, cow and cattle dung and Casuarina stumps and poles from local villagers, and seeds from the market and also friends.

And they got the coco peat from Pollachi, says Tha. Murugan, Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Coimbatore. By employing women from various SHGs, the staff placed the stumps right above the concrete beams on the terrace and alongside parapet wall so that weight did not become an issue.

On the concrete stumps, they placed Casuarina poles and atop the poles placed the baskets.

In the basket they filled coco peat, earth, manure and again earth.

And, prior to filling the baskets with earth and manure, they plastered them with cowdung.

They planted greens — more than 60 varieties after looking for them across Tamil Nadu — and a variety of vegetables.

In planting the seeds, Mr. Srinivasan says the Department staff followed a timetable — a variety or basket a day so that the greens and plants are available for harvest everyday.

To support the climbers, they lined the Casuarina poles along the parapet wall.

By the 45th day or so, they Panchayat Union employees and the women had harvested their first crop.

They begun to improve on planting seeds and taking care of crops based on their experience, Mr. Murugan says and adds that as of today, they have completed three harvests.

For the fourth harvest, they have roped in interested women from all the SHGs to form a new group.

This group, Kasini SHG, will also have expertise in preparing organic pest repellents.

Replanting

The group will now begin replicating the terrace garden in other government buildings and private buildings, on request.

This way the people can grow organic vegetables to meet almost all their kitchen needs at minimum expense and the women SHG will make a good income, Mr. Murugan adds.

C. Thulasi Mani, a member of the SHG, says she’s raring to go out to set up the terrace garden.

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