Meet Rennie Oommen from Tiruvalla, Kerala, India

“From my childhood days I have seen my father cultivating a small piece of land in the township area where we lived. I too developed the habit of growing flowers and vegetables at an early age. I love gardening and also love pesticide free food. So growing my own food is a confluence of two amazing hobbies rolled into one.

It gives immense pleasure and joy in doing simple things including sowing seed and waiting to see the seedlings making their way out of soil to become a fruitful plant and finally reaping the harvest. We could cultivate almost all the vegetables required for our daily use except for onions, potatoes and tomatoes. We grow all types of vegetables used in our daily cooking like snake peas, yam, purple yam, green chilli, cabbage, cauliflower, bitter gourd, snake gourd, drumstick, jackfruit, cucumber, papaya, bilimbi, spinach, guava, coconut and rambutan etc.

Rich and healthy soil combined with appropriate amount of water and sunlight can significantly contribute to good production. Proper tillage significantly improves the quality and the performance of the crop. We use natural pest control methods using a solution of rice water and neem seed powder, and natural predators like green tree ant.

For a person like me who used to commute daily 6 hours as a part of my job, thinking about managing a kitchen garden was a mixed feeling of being challenged and apprehensive. This pandemic has pushed me out of my Inertia. We tilled a small piece of barren land adjoining our house which has not been used for the past 20 years. It was definitely a challenge for me as even the climatic conditions were varying. Initially my family members were skeptical about my motive but later on my wife and kids also helped me.

There were many challenges and joys of farming during the lockdown period. My wife Gisha and my children daughter Neha and my son Neil, my nephew Jibin and Jenson had ample opportunities to get out and work with mother nature, water the plants and reap the harvest. It was a great time for the entire family to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

I feel life is a school of patience like a farm. You can't hurry the crop. As farmers are the founders of our civilization, the ultimate goal of farming is not reaping monetary benefits but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”