Observation home inmates reap benefits of vegetable garden
Amid the lockdown, children lodged at an observation home for juveniles here in Maharashtra are able to get fresh and organic vegetables everyday, thanks to a vegetable garden developed by them in the premises.
Besides being a source of fresh produce, the garden at the observation home located in Jawaharlal Nehru Audyogik Kendra in Yerawada area of Pune, is also keeping the juveniles, who are accused of various crimes, engaged in meaningful activities, an official said.
The vegetable garden was set up sometime back with the help of NGO Hope For the Children Foundation (HFCF) and the Eco Factory Foundation, a CSR arm of a private company, the observation homes superintendent GN Padghan told PTI.
'With the support of these two organisations, we decided to utilise a parcel of land on our premises for organic plantation in December last year,' he said.
The objective was to produce and provide fresh vegetables to children, engage them in learning new skills, help them connect with mother earth and support the observation home with food sustainability, he said.
'The actual work on the garden began in January. A dry and open plot was prepared for plantation. Some vegetable plants and seeds were sown. We used drip and sprinkler irrigation techniques. Children and caretakers were trained in preparing organic and natural fertilizers, bio-waste compost and use of pesticides,' the official said.
Since the lockdown came into force, the garden has started providing the organically grown eggplants, tomatoes, cluster beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, various gourd varieties, okra, corn, spinach, fenugreek, other green leafy vegetables, green chillies, coriander and curry leaves.
'The daily requirement of vegetables at the observation home is met by the garden,' Padghan said.
Earlier, there were 35 juveniles at the observation home, but after the coronavirus outbreak, some of them were allowed to go home, he said, adding that as of now, nearly 13 children are staying at the facility.
HFCF founder Caroline Audoir de Valter said credit goes to children at the observation home who took forward the activity with love and care and cultivated the garden.
She also lauded efforts of the observation home authorities and the Eco Factory Foundations Anand Chordia for providing technical expertise on organic farming.
HCFC is working with the observation home for last five years to support rehabilitation of the children in conflict with law.