“The environment has always been friendly to human beings. It’s we who lack skills to remain friendly to the environment”, says Vijay Angadi, programme executive with All India Radio of Hassan. For the last two decades he has been engaged in activities aimed at spreading awareness on people remaining environment-friendly and contributing towards a healthy environment.

Having secured a master’s degree in agriculture science, he is interested in bridging the gap between lab and land. He spends much time practising what he studied as a student of agriculture science. He has an answer to those worry that they don’t have enough space to plant saplings around their residence. Roof-top cultivation is an answer for them, he says. He has developed a roof-garden over four years, since he shifted to his own house off Salagame Road in Hassan city.

“With a meagre investment of Rs. 15,000 I have been reaping benefits which can’t be measured in terms of cash,” he says. He has grown native onion, radish, coriander, spinach, tomato, pudina, and chilli in pots placed on the roof of his house. Listing the advantages of roof-top gardening, he says, “Plants get sufficient sun light, no disturbance from cattle, and fresh vegetables available for cooking. I don’t use chemicals to grow these vegetables. I use only cow dung or horse dung as fertilizer.”

Mr. Angadi has developed the habit of collecting cow dung or horse dung wherever available. “I don’t use chemical manure. I always carry a couple of bags with me. Whenever I notice cow dung or horse dung, I collect it for plants. The latter is better for plants,” he says. Since the vegetables are grown organically, they carry longer shelf-life than those grown with chemical fertilizers.

Along with the roof-garden, he has a garden around his house where he has planted saplings of fruits and vegetables. He has influenced a few people in Hassan to have gardens on their roofs. In association with a few organic farmers he organises a market for organically grown products at his residence once a week. “Every Sunday we arrange exhibition-cum-sale of organically grown products. A few farmers exhibit their products and those interested purchase the products and encourage organic farming”, he said.

His Sunday market completed a year last week. This experiment is attracting more and more people gradually. Vijay Angadi is also into beekeeping on the roof. His family gets around 7-8 kg of honey in a year. “I don’t buy honey outside. What we produce at home is more than sufficient. On many occasions we share it with friends and relatives,” he said.

Water management

His house is a picture of green as most of the space on the ground and roof is covered by plants. It is also an environment-friendly house as his family does not treat anything as waste. He has not let anything go waste in his house. “Whether it is liquid waste or solid waste, it should be re-used. I don’t waste even a drop of water. Water is precious. Indoor plumbing is such that used water is let into the garden outside. Besides this, a portion of waste water is let into the underground water table to recharge the borewell,” he said.

He conserves rain water through pipelines connecting to the roof. “Rainwater is collected in separate tanks. We have been using rainwater for all purposes including drinking”, he said. Vijay Angadi says he has remained healthy due to his environment-friendly practices at home. “I have not consulted a doctor in the last 15 years. When I am getting good with organically grown food, where is the need to consult a doctor?” he questioned.

He involves his family members in all his activities. His wife Manjula Angadi and two daughters are actively involved in keeping the home green. “Children should be told about the significance of sustainable development at a very early age”, he says.

Punyabhoomi

Vijay Angadi is also founder of Parisarapriya Krishikara Sanghatane (PKS), which has been propagating sustainable farming. The PKS has developed a farm spread over 1.5 acres on National Highway 48, about11 km from Hassan.

The basic concept of the farm is to show the agriculture community that a family can lead a happy life with just1.5 acres of land. The farm has over 100 different species of plants.

It includes fruit plants, medicinal, oil seeds, cereals and plantation crops. “We conduct regular meetings at the farm, which has been named as Punyabhoomi, and promote sustainable farming. Hundreds of farmers have joined hands with us to encourage our experiment”, he says.

Sathish G.T.

Roof-top cultivation, organic manure, waste recycling…a look at the practices of a man who loves the environment