Roof-top gardening trend picks up in Chennai

Chennai: At the heart of Nungambakkam, in the city, lies the Annai Teresa Welfare Complex, which has been silently empowering members of the female gender, through the office of the Tamilnadu Corporation for Development of Women.

This, it has been doing by training women of self-help groups in horticulture.

A visit to the said complex reveals a huge rooftop garden that is fully organic and grows 22 different types of spinach, apart from other vegetables like ladies finger, brinjal, tomato and more.

Harvesting began during the month of December by the managing director of the women’s complex, Praveen Nair, it is learnt.

“We gave training initially only to a few women of self-help groups about organic and rooftop farming,” said an official who wished to remain anonymous.

“First of all, we use bamboo baskets and since it contains holes we will apply cow dung in its inner surface so that these are filled. After that, we fill it with red sand and put the seeds,” he added.

The complex now has 1,000 baskets in its terrace with different vegetables and medicinal herbs being grown. To drive away pests without using chemicals,’panchakavyam’ and ‘poochiveratti’ is used which again are completely natural.

“We ensure that the seed we get is also organic and hence we get it from selected farmers,” the official added.

Three women currently look after the garden, where the products are given for sale every day and also to the employees of the complex.

“The business is good. People eagerly buy these products,” he said.

“We also set up rooftop gardens at various homes in the area and give training to the people who desire the same,” he added.

When asked about their future plans, the official said that they are planning to do a similar exercise in Corporation schools so that they use the produce in their mid-day meals.

“We are also setting up rooftop gardens in 100 government schools and related works are already underway in some places,” he stated.

“Also, those who took part in the first part of the training have now started coaching others. So the idea of spreading the importance of organic products using rooftop gardening, is slowly expanding,” he said.

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Aaditya Anand M