Many residents in the city have started rooftop gardens at home, raising tomatoes, chillies, beans and varieties of spinach to have fresh produce for their kitchen.
To promote green spaces and encourage sustainable living, organisations such as DHAN Foundation and the Horticulture Department help residents procure rooftop gardening kits at a subsidised rate.
Gardening kit for ₹322
A kit with six coir pith-filled bags, 10 varieties of seeds, two micro nutrients (Azospirillum and Phospo Bacteria), urea and neem oil (Neemarn) is sold for ₹322 at the Horticulture Department office.
A horticulture official said there was a growing interest among Madurai residents in raising a kitchen garden.
Field workers of DHAN had been encouraging low-income households to raise gardens of their own so that they could prepare nutritious food. “Many are under the assumption that gardening is a pastime of the elite. Even those who are interested in raising a terrace garden are apprehensive of the initial investment and poor yield. We ask such people to raise spinach. They germinate quickly and help in controlling anaemia, a major problem for adolescent girls in Madurai. The encouraging results keep them going,” said Lokesh Sinram, Environment Engineer at DHAN Foundation.
“One can use goat and cow manure, procure good quality soil instead of using hybrid seeds and urea. The substitutes work effectively and provide healthier vegetables,” he said.
Presently 115 families are involved in rooftop gardening.
The effort has seen several enthusiastic women and children investing time and effort into raising the plants. The fear of nutrient-deficient food is urging people to go the organic way and plant a variety of seeds with enough yield for a nuclear family.
K. Tamilarasi and her family started their rooftop garden last year. They have raised a variety of plants, including chilli, cabbage, spinach, radish and tomato, and have seen a good yield. “We use our own vegetables in our kitchen. Children do not waste food because they understand the effort that goes into producing it,” said K. Karthikeyan, her son.
As summer looms ahead, the coir bags help retain moisture and provide a cooling effect during daytime. “Gardening even brings peace of mind after a stressful day. It also provides additional income for homemakers, thus providing sustainable growth solutions,” Mr. Lokesh said.
For more information regarding rooftop gardens, contact the Horticulture Department at 96266 04488 or DHAN Foundation at 90924 04647.