Homes and gardens

S Nanjammal urges villagers to grow their own vegetables and fruits

On a green mission S Nanjammal is encouraging her neighbours to grow their own produce

On a green mission S Nanjammal is encouraging her neighbours to grow their own produce   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

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S Nanjammal is planting seeds of self sufficiency in her own village and the other nearby ones by urging them to grow their own vegetables and fruits

It is sunset and S Nanjammal is on her regular walk through Thoppampatti Poonga Nagar. She walks slowly, stopping every now and then and examining the plants that grow in the yard of the homes and strikes up conversations. “This bottle gourd is mature. Wait for three more days and it will make for an excellent poriyal,” she tells Kalaivani S. This has pretty much been this 82 year old’s routine for the past four months. “These plants have grown out of the saplings and seeds that I distributed,” she says. “It is very fulfilling to watch them flower and bear fruit.”

Nanjammal’s oldest son, Bharathi Chinnasamy, is a Gandhian who dreams of self-sufficient villages, she says. “I am doing what I can to help him realise his dream.” Bharathi buys the seeds from Agricultural University. “I choose high-yielding varieties suggested by experts from the institute. Each pack costs ₹10 and my mother grows around 200 saplings from each packet,” he explains. She is no stranger to farm life as she grew up in a family that cultivated groundnut, millets, betel leaves and rice at Erode. “I did everything from preparing the land to harvesting the crop. I came to Coimbatore 20 years ago to be with my son. Now I grow tomato, chilli, keerai, brinjal and drumstick in my backyard,” she says.

The harvest

The harvest   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

“There are 37 families in my village and I gave them 10 varieties of seeds in May 2018. Many of them did not use it, and those who did had no idea on how to take care of the plants. That is when I decided to step in and teach them the basics of cultivation.” In June this year, Nanjammal grew brinjal saplings for 15 days in her backyard and supplied them to her neighbours. “I gave each family three to five saplings and taught them to prepare the soil with compost and plant them. The response was great,” she says.

This encouraged Nanjammal to supply them with seeds of bottle gourd and bitter gourd as well. To protect the saplings from insects, Nanjammal makes natural pesticide from leaves of neem and custard apple. “I use it once in 20 days,” she says. The villagers had their first harvest after two months. “It was such joy. People came to visit me with their first produce.”

Nurturing a plant
  • The soil has to be mixed with compost in equal proportion.
  • There should be at least two feet distance between each plant.
  • Water once in two days.
  • A mixture of cow dung with water can be added as fertilizer once in a month
  • Make sure there is enough sunlight
  • Use natural pesticide once in 20 days
  • Remove weeds without fail

B Malathi, another resident of the village, says that she never thought that farming was something she could do. “Nanjammal paati cleared all my doubts and taught me to nurture plants. My harvest was good and I supplied the surplus snake gourd and brinjal to my relatives. My family now eats fresh, chemical-free-veggies every day. ”

Nanjammal supplies seeds and saplings free of cost to families in her village

Nanjammal supplies seeds and saplings free of cost to families in her village   | Photo Credit: M Periasamy

Last month, Nanjammal included Anyapalayam village in Erode in her initiative. “That is my native place. We travel there twice in a week to check on the plants,” she says. The duo plans to make at least 15 varieties of vegetables and fruits available to the villagers. “We hope to plant pandal avarai, sundakkai chedi, guava trees and drumstick trees in common areas in these villages. The yield from these trees can be used by everyone. The good harvest has made me popular in our locality and now I am invited by nearby areas to teach them farming. I am happy to share what I have learnt over the years.”

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 5:55:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/coimbatores-nanjammal-inspires-an-entire-village-to-grow-their-own-vegetables/article29842156.ece

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