Low-cost and organically prepared kitchen gardens on raised beds are being popularised in Narayanpur block of Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh, a central Indian state. Local non-profit Sathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha is promoting such gardens, which use kitchen wastewater for cultivation, with Unicef’s funding in schools, anganwadis (child day care centres) and tribal homes with an aim to tackle malnutrition.
The NGO is helping poor tribal communities start such gardens in their backyards at a minimum cost of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 (US $ 13.23 to 26.46). “We are doing it in our project areas in about 100 villages. On the one hand, such gardens help communities get access to fresh vegetables throughout the year, and on the other, it spreads the message of organic farming in rural communities,” said Pramod Potai, a Sathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha worker.
Under this project started five years ago, Sathi financially extended support to some beneficiaries to motivate them, whereas others got inspired along the way after seeing the initiative’s success.
These organic kitchen gardens are also saving a lot of water through the means of pitcher irrigation. Under this, matkas (earthern clay pitchers) with small holes, which can hold 2-3 litres of water, are buried in the prepared vegetable beds till the collar. After that, water as well as organic manure is poured into these pots. The process ensures continuous soil moisture as water drips out of the hole slowly. So, roots of plants get adequate water as well as nutrients and there is no wastage.
In kitchen gardens, vegetables and greens can be grown throughout the year in small beds for daily home use. It is good for those who cannot afford to buy from markets due to high prices, said Bhupesh Tiwari, who leads Sathi.
“We started with 50 families in 2015 and later expanded it. Beneficiaries were asked to distribute their produce at day care centres as and when they could. Sathi supported them to set up fences around their gardens and provided other technical support. Our organisation has also created poshan badis (nutri gardens) in anganwadis under this initiative to ensure that children receive proper nutrition.”
photos by Sathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha