When all the other Malayalees make their Onam Sadya with vegetables brought from the market and rice brought in from Andhra Pradesh (a majority of rice to Kerala comes from this State), Raveendran’s family would be making all the delicious Onam dishes with vegetables from their own garden. The rice used for the sadya is also cultivated at Raveendran’s house. The fascinating part is he grows vegetables and rice on his terrace at home. This ‘wonder’ farmer grows paddy in separate pots on his terrace along with vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants.
For Raveendran and his family, buying household items like vegetables is a story of the past. Raveendran started cultivating paddy on his terrace from 2002. But it was only in 2008 that he started cultivating it in bulk. Varieties such as Uma, Prathyaasha and Pokkaali are grown on his terrace. He believes that the yield is more in this new form of agriculture, since the fertilizer deposited remains at the root of the paddy. Another interesting thing about this farmer is that he only uses fertilizer made by himself. No chemicals are used at Raveendran’s farm.
On his terrace, he grows vegetable such as Tomato, Spinach, Bitter Gourd, Snake Gourd, Ladies Finger, varieties of chilly, Beans, Drumstick, Curry Leaves, Pepper, Mint and almost all vegetables. He also cultivates a special Brazilian Passion Fruit.
Other than the terrace, he also grows Yams, varieties of potatoes, Ginger, Mango Ginger, Turmeric and Plantain in his vegetable garden on the house premises.
After the household use, Raveendran sells his vegetables outside. He has won several awards for his terrace farming initiative. In 2010, Raveendran found a place in the Limca Book of Records for cultivating a 275 kg yam from a single root of a plant. In 2014, he won the Innovative Farmer Award of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. He has also won many national and State awards, including an award at the Indian Science Congress.
An obvious doubt that comes to mind is whether the terrace farming will affect the life of the building.
“It would not have any effect on the terrace. Because, what we follow here is a method due to which the terrace would not feel the weight. Separate Galvanized Iron (GI) pipes are fixed on the holes and there won’t be any contact with the terrace. On the structure made by the GI pipes, weld meshes or grills are placed. Thus, the weight would not be exerted on the terrace. On top of this, pots and other buckets used for cultivating plants are placed,” he says.
His method simply ensures that even a single drop of water or weight would not fall on the terrace.
Raveendran, who is an ex-NRI, is not alone in carrying out this initiative. His wife Sindhu, along with their two daughters, gives him full support in his farming activities. The happiness he gets when farming is something that cannot be expressed in words. Raveendran also conducts classes and gives tips to those who are interested in taking up agriculture.