Photo Source: Mathrubhumi

The COVID pandemic has hit people hard around the world, not only in terms of health risks but also their most basic economic security and well-being.

Some are using this as an opportunity to become self-sufficient by growing food for their own families or as community projects, showing the way for others. 

Perinjanam is a coastal village in Thrissur district in Kerala, and one of the smallest villages in the state, just half a kilometer wide. The name of the village is believed to be originated from the Tamil expression for “people with good knowledge”. Anilkumar Kattil, a tourist bus driver who lost his job during the lockdown, and his neighbours certainly fit that description. 

About four years ago 55-year old Anilkumar decided to improve the sides of a road passing through his village, as he noticed people dumping waste by the road. He cleaned up the waste, cleared the weeds and started growing plants in grow bags. He found encouragement from the panchayat (local government) and fellow residents.

He began with flowering plants before moving on to planting vegetables. At various times, he has planted Chinese potato, okra, brinjal, turmeric, ginger, chillies, capsicum, spinach, bitter gourd, snake gourd and pumpkin.

After losing his job due to the lockdown, he found more time to tend to the organic farm.

As of now, one side of the road has lush paddy growing and the other side has vegetables and flowering plants.

While Anilkumar has spent money in buying the seeds and saplings, now he also receives support from his neighbours, many of who also benefit from the crop.

He is occasionally offered money, which he refuses, saying that this garden is on public land and not his private property. “I know what I’m doing is small, but I hope my efforts send a valuable message across,” he says.

We hope so, too!

Photo credit: Mathrubhumi