Downtown

They greened a barren land

Volunteers spend three to four hours every Saturday at Daya Sadan. Photo: K. Pichumani

Volunteers spend three to four hours every Saturday at Daya Sadan. Photo: K. Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

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Volunteers of Chennai Organic Terrace Gardeners create a kitchen garden at a home for the mentally challenged

Four men work on creating a garden trellis for varieties of gourds. A few feet away, Sumathy Hariharan and Bhavna are engaged in clearing weeds from a piece of land. Further still, Gopinath Subramanian is performing a visibly difficult task: he is tilling the soil.

Thanks to volunteers of Chennai Organic Terrace Gardeners, a barren land at Daya Sadan, a home for the aged and mentally challenged people, at Konnur High Road, is turning green.

For the last five months, members of this online garden group are helping set up a kitchen garden on the premises. Every Saturday, they work on the land for three to four hours.

Vijay Lourdhunathan, an IT professional and a garden enthusiast, initiated this project after he realised that the inmates needed more than basic lessons to set up a garden.

“I was asked to conduct a workshop on kitchen gardening for the inmates but after visiting the home, I found out they needed volunteers to set the process in motion,” says Vijay, pointing to the barren land, which measures over two grounds. His post on the online group seeking volunteers has generated a lot of interest with at least 10 people pitching in, including some avid gardeners

One of their first tasks at the home was setting up a compost bin where dry leaves and vegetable waste would be converted into manure. Next, they tilled and ploughed the soil.

“The men take up heavy work,” says Hemangi Doshi, one of the youngest in the group.

Tomato, brinjal, greens and capsicum plants, which have come from seeds sourced from members’ house, have already started yielding fruits.

“Already greens from the garden have been used in the kitchen. If the conditions are favourable, we hope to make the home self-sustained in terms of vegetables in the next six months,” says Sumathy Hariharan, who comes from Besant Nagar. The home currently has over 150 members and is dependent on sponsors for their food requirements.

The volunteers have also been roping in some of inmates who can sustain the kitchen garden.

“We want more volunteers to help speed up work. Even a few hours a week will do,” says Saranya, who checks on the plants during the weekdays.

For more details and to volunteer, call Vijay at 99621 95426.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 4:14:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/chennai-organic-terrace-gardeners-create-a-kitchen-garden-at-daya-sadan/article7438033.ece

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