Growing grapes in Kerala may not be the easiest of tasks, especially for a farmer who has spent most of her life tending to rice paddy, vegetable plantations and tapioca gardens.

What makes the achievement doubly sweet is that the farmer in question, Saramma Mathew from Mulanthuruthy, never expected it to happen so dramatically. It is the third time the vine is producing grapes this year, she told The Hindu. And, it has flowered for the fourth time, she said with a lot of enthusiasm in her voice, as she described the rewarding though modest yield of rose grapes. There were 15 to 20 bunches, she said.

People in the village were aware that Ms. Mathew had green thumbs and could grow anything she wanted to. But grapes have beaten all odds, including her age.

She said that she planted the grape vine without knowing what it actually was four years ago. The first flowering, in the third year, gave some hint of what was to come. However, this year has been a year of surprises, she said and attributed the fruits to the grace of God. Ms. Mathew is an enthusiastic farmer, who still wades into her 30-cent paddy field and takes care of her vegetable garden without help from anybody else, her children having moved out after their marriages.

She has also been the centre of attention for cultivating cabbage and cauliflower and encouraging her neighbours to do so. An official of the department of agriculture said that the rose grapes were grown without the use of pesticides or any synthetic fertilizer.

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