Grandma goes green – The New Indian Express

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 8:50 pm

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CHENNAI: Around 11-km from Coimbatore is the quaint Tho p p a m p a t t i Poonga Nagar. The o t h e r w i s e nondescript village is slowly gaining fame because of an 82-year-olds good green deed. When you reach here, ask for kaikari paati veedu, and anyone in this village can guide you to S Nanjammals one-bedroom house. Enveloped by plants, climbers and creepers, her house is a treat for every city slicker. Her love for plants and distributing free seeds and saplings to anyone and everyone have rightfully earned her the moniker kaikari paati. She invited us into her garden and we were greeted by a burst of green dotted with purple brinjals, red tomatoes and yellow flowers of ladies finger.

I have around 17 varieties of plants including chillies, tomato, brinjal, bottle gourd, snake gourd, curry leaves, moringa, and greens like ponnangani and thandan keerai. I use gardenfresh vegetables to cook my daily meals, she says beaming with pride. She also has fruit-bearing trees like papaya and guava. Gardening invokes happy memories in Nanjammal, who used to practice farming in childhood. The space in her house might not be big to cater to many plants, but she tends to them affectionately. She has placed a fence around the plants, waters it and checks for any pest attack regularly. She uses extract of neem leaves and custard apple tree leaves to spray and control the infection. She also makes natural fertilisers using waste vegetables and other ecomposable waste.

Self-sufficient village Nanjammals son Bharathi Chinnasamy, an author, follows the Gandhian way of life and he was particularly attracted by one principle the need or self-sufficient village communities to better the balance between man and nature. He began walking on this path ten years ago and has worked with many self-help groups and dreamed of implementing this idea. My idea of making villages self-sufficient is by inspiring people to grow vegetables in their own gardens. This will help them have good health and it also makes them responsible towards nature.

I have tried this concept in more than 30 villages across Tamil Nadu but didnt get the expected results, he says. Bharathi has shared his experiments in his book Ellame Illavasam published last year. Nanjammal believed in this cause and started supporting her son in his mission two years back. She started working towards making Thoppampatti a self-sufficient village. Bharathi has travelled a lot across Tamil Nadu and worked hard to make this concept relevant.

So, I wanted to try this in my village and distributed seeds free of cost to villagers. While some of them planted those seeds, some of them threw it away. I took efforts to make them understand why I was doing this and suggested that they grow at least one vegetable plant in their garden that will cater to their need. But even that went in vain. Then I decided to give saplings of brinjal plant instead of seeds as I had those aplenty. I made necessary arrangements for brinjal saplings to grow in my garden and once it attained a particular height, I gave it to the villagers for free, says Nanjammal. Four months back, she gave brinjal saplings to 37 families. Seeing the plants bear brinjals, many villagers came forward to purchase saplings from her. Nanjammal also makes it a point to visit the villagers houses to help them plant and maintain the saplings, at regular intervals.

Till families see the result, they do not want to plant trees. I go to their houses once a week to look at the growth. If it has any pest attack, I use natural pesticides like neem leaves extract to control it. I also cut the infected leaves of the plants. Sometimes, family members also come to help me, she says. After planting brinjal saplings, she distributed seeds of snake gourd and bitter gourd plants. Now, she is distributing saplings of curry leaves. I come from an agriculture family in Erode. I started going out into the fields at the age of seven. So, growing vegetables is not a difficult task for me. I enjoy it and like creating awareness of sustainable living. My vision is to make my villagers grow at least 10 varieties of vegetables and greens in their garden. I want people to make farming a habit, she shares.

Bond with plants Nanjammal chooses saplings to be distributed based on the size of the family. All the seeds are procured from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in the city. This cause is not so expensive. A packet of seeds costs `10 and you can get around 200 saplings. Growing vegetables in your garden will make you realise how fresh vegetables look, free of chemicals, says Bharathi. The mother-son duo also insist people to grow plants in public places.

A few families can join hands and grow plants like moringa or creepers like pumpkin in public places near their houses and share the vegetables. It will also help create a bond between them. The state government can take our village as a model and implement the concept in other villages too, says Nanjammal. Bhuvaneshwari R, one of the villagers, says, Initially when she gave us the sapling, we didnt take the cause seriously. She supervises the growth of the sapling and helps us take care of them. When we started reaping the benefits from the plants, we felt happy.

Every day I get around one kilogram of vegetables needed for our family from my own garden. She has made the village green and self-sufficient. Under her care, the future of Coimbatore looks green, healthy and self-sufficient. It is not hard to grow your plants. While people in villages and independent villas can maintain a small garden, people in flats and complexes can grow it in public places and split the vegetables, she says.

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Grandma goes green - The New Indian Express

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October 16th, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Self-Help