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Grow your own veggies: Eco warriors

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A new tribe of eco-warriors is trying its hand at chemical-free terrace gardening, with gladdening results

In a year where the word ‘organic’ has been heard everywhere — from Facebook to pop culture — a big trend has been people trying to cultivate their own veggies. Call it the side effects of social media where putting up the image of your garden’s daily produce is as important as taking that selfie, it is a healthy change which has seen many new enthusiasts putting to test their green thumbs. The growing information available has also made it easier for people to indulge in their hobbies and see it turn into a passion. While Facebook groups dedicated to terrace gardeners are booming, the burgeoning interest in permaculture has also ensured that for many, it is becoming a way of life.

Green way of living

Grow your own veggies: Eco warriors

Interior designer Kalpana Ramesh swears by the fact that organic vegetables can improve the quality of life. The eco-warrior first started growing her own vegetables on their farm near Chilkur six years ago when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and has always tried to grow all their kitchen vegetable needs at home or in their farm. She shares, “The doctors gave my mother four months but she lived four and half years of quality life. I believe this is because we grew our own veggies, free of contamination and chemicals. Two years ago I started my own terrace garden because I wanted my whole family to eat healthy food. Apart from growing most varieties of vegetables, I grow fruits too.”

Kalpana has gone further than just growing a terrace garden. She hit two birds with one stone, as she uses recycled water for her garden apart from using bio-degradable containers for her plants. She says, “I tried using wooden crates but they didn’t last long. Metal framers followed but then I chanced upon these food grade plastic containers through a friend and am hooked to them. Since I use grey water from my household for the garden, it conserves water too.” Grey water is using the water from showers/kitchen sinks and filtering them before diverting them for other purposes.

Welcoming birds

A copy editor, Minal Khona calls herself a late bloomer when it comes to gardening. “It became a passion gradually,” she says before adding, “Growing chillies was my first experiment when I planted seeds of spicy green chillies that I got from Mumbai. Then, it was curry leaves. That’s how my interest and number of plants grew. It was essentially driven by the joy I get from plucking something fresh off the plant and using it while cooking. The fresh aromas are something else.” She slowly started increasing the variety and now cultivates her own turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, curry leaves, lemons and papaya. Generous in sharing her bountiful garden produce with her family and friends, thanks to the flower pots, her garden has new visitors. She smiles, “Birds are ever present thanks to the green cover. Now I am trying to grow some fruit trees so that more birds can call my garden home.”

Never too late

For Ashok Kumar who retired with a pharma major after serving nearly 40 years with the company, gardening is his new job. The genial 61-year-old grandfather says, “This is my first year of having a terrace garden and I grow over 10 types of vegetables. I chanced upon a permaculture course on Facebook for beginners and attended it. Apart from growing half of the vegetables my family of five consumes, it has given me a new vocation apart from ensuring that our family eats healthy.” Now, planning to take advanced courses in permaculture apart from imploring his friends and family to do the same, Ashok is happy with his latest passion project.

So, is the trend here to stay? Kalpana says that she fervently hopes it does, “Even a leaf like spinach is treated with 20 kinds of pesticides. So the choice is ours, as to what we want to eat. These individual measures will take us a long way to a holistic life.”

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 4:07:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/grow-your-own-veggies-eco-warriors/article25848293.ece

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