The next time you shop at any of the leading organic stores in the city, you may end up buying vegetables and greens cultivated by a farmer who quit a cushy corporate job to go back to the grassroots, quite literally.

‘Nalla Keerai’ (in Tamil translating to ‘good greens’) is a silent movement in organic farming in and around Paakam village in Thiruninravur, 30 km from the city, that is capturing the imagination of several youngsters, inspiring some of them to quit their jobs and take to farming.

With many of the farmers in the collective in their early 30s, they adopt modern methods of marketing. They have a Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/NallaKeerai — that has close to 8,000 followers.

The Nalla Keerai initiative was formed by a local farmer R. Jagannathan, who, inspired by various organic farmers in the State, including the iconic G. Nammalvar, set out to create a model farm to cultivate greens (keerai) in a plot of land measuring 50 cents (half an acre).

He opted for greens because of their relatively short crop cycle, and succeeded in implementing a multi-crop system through which he was able to cultivate 45 different varieties of greens in one cycle. This success story four years ago, has since inspired many youngsters to take to organic farming.

V.M. Parthasarthy quit an IT job that gave him a monthly salary of over Rs. 80,000 to become a full-time organic farmer last July. J. Rajesh Kumar was once an HR consultant for software companies but is now a full-time farmer with Nalla Keerai, and has taken 65 cents of land on lease. S. Kamal Sunder Raj, a regular volunteer at Nalla Keerai is on the verge of quitting his IT job to concentrate on organic farming.

Farm to Consumer

One of the key principles by which Nalla Keerai operates is eliminate the middleman and take the produce directly to the consumers. They supply to some of the biggest organic retail stores in the city, and have also struck deals with three big companies to sell their produce at their office premises directly to their workers.

Explaining the significance of Nalla Keerai, organic food campaigner Ananthoo of Restore in Adyar said the greens found in the inorganic stores had high toxicity levels because of excess spraying of pesticides. “What Nalla Keerai is achieving through their organic farming is noteworthy.”

For details about ‘Nalla Keerai’ call 9962611767 or email farm2consumer@gmail.com

More In: Society | Chennai