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Green dreams

Growing microgreens is not only extremely beneficial to health but the exercise is also
therapeutic, asserts  Savio Souza of Green Education Organisation, who is actively involved  in spreading awareness around India,  including Goa

Christine Machado | NT BUZZ

Growing your own food is definitely a trend that is setting in, slowly but surely. But, while this may be conducive for those who have a backyard or garden, those who have no open space of any sort where they live, cannot join in this burgeoning lifestyle activity.    

And this is where microgreens come in. These vegetables can be grown in small places like a tray or a vase, and can be placed near a window sill or balcony area. And what’s more, they are said to be 40 times more nutritional as compared to the mature vegetables we otherwise consume.

“There’s nothing super mysterious about microgreens. These are the same vegetables that we eat and buy from the market. However, here these are harvested at early stages of growth i e within the first two weeks of growth,” explains Savio Souza, who runs Green Education Organisation. After two weeks, the plant turns into a baby green and the dilution of nutrients starts happening, he says.

And there is a variety of vegetables that you can grow this way – raddish, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, etc.

“We use a special kind of soil for this as the regular earth is too harsh. The soil used is a combination of cocopeat and compost in a ratio of 60:40. This creates a fluffy mixture which is conducive to growing microgreens,” says Souza. And Green Education Organisation has specialised in growing microgreens within the Indian scenario. “There may be a lot of content available online on how to grow microgreens but one needs to take into consideration the Indian conditions and use growing techniques accordingly,” he says.

Having founded the organisation about seven years ago, Souza reveals that he was passionate about plants since a young age. In fact, his first memory of being enamoured with plants was when he was around seven years old and picked a book on botany. Although he couldn’t read then, he was taken by it. He also started a group in his locality where the neighbourhood kids would gather to plant trees.

However, it was when his mother was diagnosed with cancer that Souza began to take a serious interest in researching the medicinal values of plants in the hope of providing her with natural plant-based alternatives apart from her chemotherapy and radiation. And while his mother passed away, the research into the immunity boosting properties of plants continued and led to the formation of the organisation.

The group first began undertaking awareness programmes and trainings in schools, before moving to other spaces including the corporate space. Among their school activities, they have a long term project at The Kings School at Sao Jose de Areal, Margao (around four years so far), where students are given hands-on training in growing their own vegetables.

“We supply these to local hotels, organic markets, stores, farmer markets, and showcase at exhibitions in colleges and so on,” says Souza, adding that they have also done a few short term projects at a couple of other schools around Goa. The funds raised through these go towards the welfare of cancer patients.

In Mumbai, they are more involved in the corporate space with many women entrepreneur organisations joining in the workshops. “It is quite surprising that a lot of people don’t know about microgreens. But there is always an interest because this is something organic, nutritious and can be grown in any home scenario,” he says.

And while the growing of microgreens usually starts off as a hobby for most people, Souza says that it then develops into more of a lifestyle as people start to experience the health benefits.

“When we migrated from rural areas to cities we lost out on our option of fresh local organic food. Now we are taking back that privilege of growing food with our own hands. Plus it is very therapeutic,” he says.

Souza has also recently come out with a book ‘Microgreen Health Revolution’  “an entertaining and interactive read” which documents inspiring stories of people who have grown microgreens from scratch.

“Growing fresh vegetables yourself is the best way forward as you control the entire growing process and know exactly what’s going into it. This is especially important considering all the marketing hype about food which is supposed to be pure, but may not be so. This is unfortunately the scene today. Here you are assured that the food you are growing is pure,” he says.

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