Tamil Nadu

Start your own kitchen garden

S. Alageswari has made it her mission to spread awareness on 'organic' lifestyles. Here, she guides a student of Panchayat Union School, Kurumbapalayam on how to grow and look after a kitchen garden.  

Alageswari tucks a tiny sapling into place and pats the soil down tenderly. A half smile plays on her lips. It is as if she is sharing a secret joke with the spinach. She probably is.

Because she loves plants, especially vegetables and she has made it her business to move around teaching whoever wants to learn, how to grow their own veggies. That is why she is at the Panchayat Union Middle School at Kurumbapalayam – to teach kids gardening. Students Dilip and Priyavardhan run up to her and tell her how the cucumber seeds she gave them to plant back home has already borne fruit. “This is the reason I love to teach children; they are receptive and enthusiastic,” says Alageswari.

The idea for a kitchen garden at school was born when school authorities asked CRI Pumps if it could help with some extra vegetables to go with the midday meal. It would add variety to the kids’ diet not to mention, make it more nutritious. (The Kurumbampalayam school is one of the 10 government schools that CRI looks after as part of its CSR initiative). Says S. Raja, Manager CSR, CRI Pumps, “Along with the headmistress, S. Rachel and other teachers of the school we decided on a long term solution – a kitchen garden. So, we invited Alageswari to help us.”

Alageswari has also created kitchen gardens at the Gandhi Maa Nagar Government School in the city, besides many more institutions in Uthukuli, Gobi, etc.  

Before she gets the kids and teachers to prepare the soil and plant the seeds, she speaks to them about an ‘organic’ lifestyle. 

“I was converted when I first heard Nammalvar,” she says of the messiah of organic farming. “He had such an impact on me that I left my job and decided to spread his word.”

Real learning is in the teaching believes Alageswari who only in the last year and a half has taken up her passion as a profession. Before that she did it for free. “I educate people on how they can enrich their soil, grow healthy vegetables and fruits, recharge the water table and do all this at nominal cost. You don’t need labour, ploughing, excess water or even time. Once you have sown the seeds, the plant will do the rest.”

In a recent initiative in Karumbukadai in the city, a garbage dump was cleared and turned into a recreational park.

Alageswari’s next assignment is to create a vegetable garden there and the produce will be shared amongst the residents nearby. 

If you want to start a vegetable garden, call Alageswari at 91 9942118080 or email her at itsme.alagu@gmail.com 

Before she gets the kids and teachers to prepare the soil and plant the seeds, she speaks to them about an ‘organic’ lifestyle. 

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 12:14:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/start-your-own-kitchen-garden/article7576887.ece

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