The need to conserve greenery and work to keep the green cover intact has become important in these times of environmental degradation. Add to this the soaring prices of vegetables, and rooftop gardening provides the perfect answer. The idea seems to be catching on in Chennai.
Many agencies in the city have been promoting rooftop gardening over the last decade or so. The Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department was providing gardening kits a few years ago. It plans to revive this scheme a few months from now, according to a government official. The Department educates people on simple ways to cultivate vegetables on terraces and rooftops, and provides the necessary materials at reasonable cost.
Good Governance Guards, a not-for-profit NGO in Besant Nagar, provides gardening services and materials at the lowest possible price. Hari Radhakrishnan of GGG says, "Setting up a garden with three plants will cost around Rs 1000, all inclusive. Customers usually buy what they need according to individual needs."
Madi Thotam, which functions from the rooftop of the Annai Theresa Magalir Valagamat Valluvar Kottam sells plants in bamboo baskets as well aslow-cost seeds. Vijaya, the caretaker of the thotam, says “Rooftop gardening is a good pastime for housewives as they can use the vegetables to cook for their families, and can also earn a decent sum from the organic harvest.”
Household budgets will get a boost as food expenses decline. According to her, the activity can be extended to children, and will have the added advantage of providing a distraction from cell phones and television.
Sylvia Royan, a resident ofPerungudi, says “Rooftop gardening is very helpful and keeps the family healthy. I make compost from kitchen waste, and use coco peat for the plants as it increases aeration and water retention, improves soil quality, increases productivity and reduces the incidence of root diseases.”
Produce grown at home is safer and tastier than store-bought vegetables. Organically-grown food also helps prevent diarrhoea and headaches often caused by polluted food and water. “The tomatoes grown at home are sourer than the ones bought from the shop”, says Sylvia.
Equally important, houses with rooftop gardens lose 30 per cent less heat in winter and become cooler in summer, as the plants provide insulation all year-round.
And as a bonus, you get to watch butterflies, bees and other small wildlife as nature smiles on these gardens.
So, what are you waiting for? Go plant some seeds, and watch them grow. Stay cool, healthy and wealthy!