Even though Jigna and Rahul Shah, a doctor couple from Surat, loved growing plants and trees as a hobby, they never thought of taking it as a daily affair. Everything changed when Jigna attended a workshop seven years ago which made her realise the importance of organic food. Since then, she and her husband began growing vegetables for their day-to-day needs on their home terrace.
Rahul was interested in gardening but had focused on ornamental plants only. His father used to grow a few vegetables and fruits but all of them dwindled due to lack of care. The couple who once complained about their busy schedule to stay away from looking after the plants now lives in a house surrounded by fruit trees and plants.
“The first step involved in transforming the 1500 square feet roof into a garden was waterproofing it. We now grow fruits like mango, amla (Indian gooseberry), pomegranate, banana, papaya, setur (black mulberry), dragon fruit, phalsa, star fruit, tomato and vegetables like brinjal, okra, bitter gourd, chillies and many ornamental plants,” says Rahul.
From grow bags, pots to directly planting them on land around the house — the Shah family does it all. “Those plants which will turn into big trees are planted around the house. Everything else is on the terrace. Rahul adores ornamental plants and has a good collection of bonsai trees and cactus,” gushes Jigna.
“My clinic functions on the ground floor of the house. We have planted mango and chikoo trees there. There are many other trees outside, due to which the indoors of the house remain cool even during summer,” she adds.
Hobby to habit
The couple spends two hours before heading for work, in their terrace garden. While Jigna focuses on vegetables and fruits, Rahul looks after ornamental plants. Their 14-year-old son is also into gardening. “We are glad that our son gets in touch with nature in the early years of his life. He is well aware of its importance and that is one of our key takeaways from this initiative,” Jigna says.
They started farming on an experimental basis using a few varieties of vegetables. But their instant success has resulted in farm-fresh produce on the table. Many seasonal fruits are also abundantly grown in their compound.
Jugna bought a banana plant from the nursery four years ago which multiplied within no time. She keeps gifting the saplings to her friends and relatives and encourages them to farm.
“We have not bought tomatoes from stores for the last four months. Same in the case of many other seasonal fruits and vegetables too. The taste of organically-grown produce is completely different and can’t be matched by others,” adds Jigna.
In addition to these, the garden is home for many birds and insects. To attract more butterflies and increase pollination, Rahul has planted many yellow flowering plants.
By upcycling an old bathtub, he has also created a fish pond. Several plants like water lilies are also grown in it.
The story of Jigna and Rahul tells us that a busy schedule is not a reason to stay away from your favourite hobbies. It also highlights the significance of growing natural crops, or at least a few vegetables needed for your daily diet. This makes us self-sufficient in leading a healthy life.
Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao