Chennai

A new initiative blooms

The pandemic might have dealt Chitlapakkam Rising’s solid-waste management initiative a big blow, but the citizens’ group has partly salvaged the situation. The group was relentlessly pushing residents towards practising source segregation when the COVID-19 outbreak hampered its efforts. It now encourages residents to raise gardens, and nurture them with the compost made at home.

“Members of our group would go with conservancy workers from door to door to promote waste segregation among residents. Besides, sessions on waste management were conducted for children to make sure they took the message to their parents. The larger aim was to keep our colony clean and reduce the waste going to landfills. To prevent whatever we have achieved so far from going waste, we tried encouraging our neighbours to take up gardening. Once people get into gardening, they may want to segregate waste for the purpose of composting. With this end in view, we formed a WhatsApp group last year, amd its membership has risen to 105. This group has got both seasoned home gardeners and newbies. Members exchange ideas, post photos of the day’s bounty and so on,” says Jaikumar Dhanasekaran, a resident of Chitlapakkam.

To begin with, Jaikumar made videos of gardens beng raised by Sridharan. P and Jaya Ramkumar to show how plants and flowers add beauty to houses. Sridharan has adorned his independent house with ornamental plants. Along with her neighbour Ranjani, Jaya Ramkumar has converetd a section of the terrace in their apartment into a green patch.

On July 18, Chitlapakkam Rising organised a gathering that sharing and exchanging seeds and saplings.

Selvamurthy Aarumugham came with a dozen seed varieties of lady’s finger such as Kasthuri Vendai, Paruman Vendai, Nakshatra Vendai, Mattukombu Vendai and many more. He had brought brinjal varieties native to Vellore, Salem, Manaparrai. Likewise, Leena Gangadharan shared seeds of Shankupushpam, Karpoorvavalli, Sapotta and saplings of table roses. KK Dhinakaran shared seeds of greens like pasali and ponnakani. P Kalaiselvi Mohan Raj shares seeds of gourds, sweet potatoes, and saplings of greens.

Work-from-home has indirectly helped some of these home gardeners.

“Before pandemic, fours hours of my day would be spent commuting; and I would leave for office by 7.30 a.m. and return late in the evening. With work from home, I finally found the time to take up gardening. Though my office has reopened, I manage to squeeze in some time for my garden. Whole Sundays go into gardening,” says Shiva Shankar.

Sindhuja B, a new gardener, maintains a small garden on the terrace of her apartments.

“We maintain only a limited number of potted plants as the terrace is a common space. It is mostly chillies, tomatoes, greens, radish, lady’s-finger, and drumstick. Our reliance on markets for vegetables has reduced considerably. Now, we do not dispose of the vegetable and fruit peels; they go into composting,” says Sindhuja.

Those already into gardening started expanding their gardens in the last one year. Sunil Jayaram and Jaikumar Dhanasekaran who had gardens around their houses are now setting up gardens in their terraces. While Sunil is interested in raising flowering plants; and Jaikumar is keen on growing veggies.

As the pandemic requires people to stay indoors, gardening seems to be promote mental health.

Says Udhayavani: “Gardening soothed one’s mind, and helps you beat the boredom that comes from being cooped up at home. Besides exchanging ideas and seeds, group members occasionally pay a visit to others’ gardens.”


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 3:09:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-new-initiative-blooms/article35505646.ece

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