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Fostering the pulse of gardening

pulses __Uploaded external by: Tina Costanza

The village of Siolim is not only famous for the Sao Joao festivities, but, over the last 25 years for successfully hosted the Annual Festival of Plants & Flowers at the Saint Francis Xavier School. NT BUZZ speaks to the organizers to know more about this festival and its journey and the theme that focuses on pulses
ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
The month of August sees the decline of the monsoon season in Goa and re-instates the gardening season, which normally takes a backseat due to heavy downpour.
So, if you are searching for new plants and garden essentials then head to the Saint Francis Xavier School in Siolim this weekend. The Green Heritage Eco-Club of the school is organising their 25th Annual Festival of Plants & Flowers from August 27 to August 29 in the school campus.
Cartoonist Alexyz, who hails from the Siolim village and brain behind this Festival shares interesting anecdotes that shaped this Festival now in its silver jubilee year.
“It was 25 years ago that my friend Joel D’Souza (photojournalist and writer) and I went for the Botanical Society’s plant festival at Kala Academy. From there we thought of starting a similar plant festival at Siolim. So, we approached the SFX school management. They agreed and we started the group Green Heritage,” says Alexyz.
Reminiscing the old days, he said that for the first plant festival they went around the Siolim village in a van and requested residents to give their plants for the festival. They also invited various plant nurseries to sell their plants. “Every year at the Festival at least 1000 plants are sold. So, in these 25 years around 25,000 plants are sold and people have planted so many plants in their homes. At this festival you will get whatever is required under the sun for gardening,” says Alexyz.
When asked why they approached a school to organise such an event, Alexyz says it was evident as Goa was changing under the name of the development and the ecology was getting beating due to mining, real estate they wanted to pass on this message of conservation of ecology to the younger generation.
This event has a theme every year and this year being the international year of pulses, the theme also revolves around pulses. Over 25 schools will participate in various activities to be held on August 27.
The formal inauguration will be held on August 27 at 10 a.m. by the chief guest Director of Agriculture Ulhas Pai Kakode, and while the Consul General of the Portuguese Consulate in Goa Rui Carvalho Baceira will be the guest of honour.
“This year being the silver jubilee year, the school will be releasing a book on ‘Pulses’ which will be released by Kakode,” says Diogo Pinto, chief co-ordinator of the Festival and convenor of The Green Heritage Eco-Club.
Pinto further informs that like all these years, leading plant nurseries will also participate in the festival, besides there will be other stalls for food, organic farm products, organic masalas, herbal products, organic manure, solar powered appliances, books on gardening, lifestyle products, etc.
Agriculture expert Miguel Braganza who has been a part of this Festival right from its inception informs that it is quite a rare thing that a plant festival is celebrating 25 years. Speaking about the theme of the Festival he says: “Initially pulses were not given the due recognition. But, now they are known for their benefits. They are the only plants that can fix nitrogen and are high in protein content,” says Miguel.
Miguel who is also part of the Goa College of Agriculture at Quepem informs that the students of this college will give a demonstration and talk on nitrogen fixing on August 27 and August 28.
At this Festival there will be many events with the focus on pulses. To further emphasise the theme, the students of the school from standard IX, X, and XI are undertaking a project based on a topic ‘Pulses for Sustainable Food Security’. The other activities at the Festival are — ‘growing pulses by seed germination’, ‘vegetarian/fruit salad making’, ‘Pulse card making’, ‘flower arrangement’ ‘vegetable cooking competition’ and ‘potted plants competition’. There will be also a display of bonsai plants by Daniel D’Souza.
This year the organisers will be also giving away the Joel D’Souza Memorial Award to six awardees.
On the last day, August 29 there will be a workshop on pulses and green manure by Yogita Mehra at 10 a.m.
The festival is supported by Directorate of Agriculture and Directorate of Water Resources.
(The Plant Festival will be open to the public on all the three days from August 27 to August 29 from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. For any queries, call 2272245 /9326102797)

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