Residents’ forums, individuals on a cultivation spree
Turning their backs on the expensive and pesticide-laced vegetables in markets, residents’ associations and amateur farmers relish the idea of plucking the fruit of their labour to serve for the traditional Vishu sadya this time.
“It is indefinable, the feeling of having a meal made of vegetables grown in one’s own backyard or terrace. You will understand it only when you experience it,” Babu Parambath, the project coordinator of Niravu Vengeri, known as the pioneer in the vegetable revolution in Kozhikode, says. He has been cultivating vegetables for eight years, along with 100 other families in his residents’ association.
Niravu was just a pointer that the nearby residents’ forums followed and, within a few years, the Vengeri village had excess vegetables they could sell to outsiders.
Now, there are many groups of students, senior citizens, and Kudumbasree units in the district growing vegetables and even marketing them. Thousands of families have ventured into producing their own vegetables, as the first step towards banishing market-bought vegetables from their homes.
“It is a great relief that I don’t have to purchase much for my Vishu Sadya, with the vegetable prices so high,” Latha Sarath, a homemaker in Kozhikode, told . “At least I don’t have to wonder what kinds of pesticides were used in my food,” she added.
It is easy to set up a vegetable garden for a small family. “You need only the space to keep ten grow-bags, which would easily fit on a veranda. Two bags of okra, two of tomato, two of brinjal, two of spinach, one of green chilli, and another of green pepper. Just sow one seed each in every bag and support creepers using coir ropes. There you have a thriving vegetable garden,” Mr. Parambath said, explaining the Vengeri model that has won many accolades.
Among those who do not have their own gardens, there are a large number of people opting to purchase traditionally or organically grown vegetables despite slightly higher prizes. It is no wonder that the ‘Vishu Chantha’ organised by Green View, a group of vegetable farmers, ran out of stock in a few days. “We do not price them too high, there is only a slight margin. However, it seems not a problem for people who recognise its value,” Green View president M.P. Rejil Kumar told.
Green View has received a hundred orders to set up mini poly-houses in households and apartment complexes. If all goes smoothly, the district will not have to depend much on vegetables bought from other States next Vishu.