Wednesday , 11 December 2019
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Gardening from home

Miguel Braganza

Today is the day we celebrate simplicity in remembrance of a man who inspired our forefathers during his brief stopover in Goa while on a mission for Japan, San Francisco Xavier, or simply SFX. He is commonly known as ‘Goemcho Saib’ though officially he is the patron saint of India. When keeping up with film stars and celebrities, it is time for us to revisit the simple lifestyles and to adopt them again. We need to refocus on the maxim, ‘Our food should be our medicine, and medicine should not become our food.’  It is time to grow as many vegetables, herbs and fruits as we can at home. The Botanical Society of Goa helps promote this through the all-Goa home garden competition that will be conducted next January as has been done for the last 26 years.

Vegetables and fruits supply us with vitamins and minerals while cereals, pulses and oilseeds provide the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that build our body and provide us with energy to work and play. Nestor Rangel and Santano Rodrigues are spearheading the drive to grow more rice in Goa with the help of technology promoted by one man with a missionary zeal, Fr George Quadros, sdb. We need to be aware and take steps to protect ourselves and our future generations. Home gardening on the ground or in the balcony is a great way to start. Poison-free vegetables are an important consideration when thinking of healthy food for oneself or one’s family. There is hope for agriculture in Goa and the good news is that the initiative is coming from the youth in Goa. Whether it is the first batch of home-grown agriculture graduates or the students of Biotechnology at Dhempe College or the students from schools and colleges across Goa who have been trained in simple urban gardening techniques, there is rising adoption of organic gardening. The Government College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Khandola-Marcela, organised a well-attended ten-day course two months ago. The techniques are also available on YouTube now.

Growing food can begin very simply. Nurseries stock coco peat, composts, pots and garden tools. Vegetable seeds are available with various vendors and the Zonal Agriculture Offices. On YouTube, one can watch how to make a self-irrigating pot from a PET bottle or jar, sow seeds in coco peat with a little compost, raise seedlings, transplant or even make cuttings. Priyanka Parab has helped to make these videos before she went back to school to teach horticulture alongside her former, Vrundan Parab. Both of them are bright sparks and inspirations to the students they mentor. Agriculture graduates are also being appointed in schools by the education department to teach horticulture to students of class nine and SSC students. You can always request the school to have a demonstration done through the PTA for the local residents. Start now. Home gardens will be judged on January 12 and 19, 2020. A team will visit your home if you register by the end of December. Let us make Goa cleaner, greener and healthier.

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