Lockdown diaries Chennai

Gated community on Chennai’s IT Corridor goes beyond comfort zone, sources vegetables and fruits from faraway farms during May crisis

A resident of Arihant Frangipani narrates how his community in Siruseri discovered bountiful self-sufficiency in the midst of scarcity

In April, Venkatesh from our neighbouring gated community — L&T Eden Park — asked us if we would support them in having farm-fresh watermelons, with the challenge being that a minimum of 200 orders had to be placed with the farmer from Red Hills for him to accept the deal. Without that number, he wouldn’t have any profit worth wiring home about, as he had the unenviable task of having to transport the watermelons from Red Hills to Siruseri

We made a Google Form and shared it across the community via various platforms — maintenance portals adda and apnacomplex; Residence Email Group and the Association Facebook Group. Finally, we managed to achieve a total order from 180 — for both L&T Eden Park and Arihant Frangipani.

The order was delivered by the vendor and the watermelons had been plucked the day before and delivered early morning, and they were as fresh as it could be.

A new challenge

Getting watermelons straight from the farm in this manner instilled a lot of confidence in us, as this kind of an arrangement signified a new idiom in our dictionary, and at that time, we did not realise how the reserve of confidence would help us deal with a challenge that lay ahead of us.

In May, when the vegetable crisis raged, most of the apartment supermarket personnel who had visited Koyambedu had to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Watch | What turned Koyambedu market into a COVID-19 hotspot?

It was a scenario when our recently-gained experience in sourcing produce fresh from the farm had to be put to the test. How are we going to source vegetables for residents of the community at a nominal rate?

Again, Venkatesh, our friend from the neighbouring gated community, was contacted, and he did not disappoint us. He managed to find a contact in Krishnagiri, who was networking with farmers, got the produce from them and would deliver the vegetables to the end users.

There was a sense of deja vu, as here again, a minimum of 200 orders had to be made for the dealer to countenance the deal.

Here, the lorry had to travel from Krishnagiri to Siruseri.

So, it was back to the Google Form and the calculations came out more than right — the order stood at an encouraging 220.

We closed the order two days before we wanted the vegetables so as to give the person in Krishnagiri sufficient time to collect the vegetables directly from farmers, pack it and have it delivered at our community on time.

The vegetables came in packs of ₹500, ₹750 and ₹1,000, with the quantity varying according to the rate.

I derived a lot of inspiration from the afore-mentioned initiatives, and I was not prepared to let the mango season go, without tasting succulent mango varieties. Many others at the gated community were on the same page. The mango sellers were affected, as it is a seasonal fruit, and this is the only time they can make a profit selling it.

So, I approached a mango vendor in Navallur, and what followed was a four-time sale, and all was carried out via Google Form.

Then followed a one-time fish order and on another occasion, an order for homemade snacks.

For all these processes, we would use any or a combination of the fallowing platforms — the society portal, Facebook, email, WhatsApp and digital payments method.

We went in for these purchases only during the weekends when we had a break from the regular office work, and had sufficient time to focus on the task at hand.

Coordinating with Venkatesh and team from Eden Park, I may have been part of the exercise to help our community get essentials and a few luxuries — I am thinking of succulent watermelons and mangos here — but that is just half the story.

The takeaway for me is the power of establishing connections, and helping one another in a crisis.

(Vivek lakshman .M is the committee member of the residents’ association at Arihant Frangipani, a gated community in Siruseri)

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 4:17:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/lockdown-diaries-a-gated-community-on-chennais-it-corridor-goes-beyond-comfort-zone-sources-vegetables-from-krishnagiri/article31825483.ece

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