“My Garden Story” hosted on 18th June 2021 was part of COMM. (Community) – 3C’s Outreach Program. The session was presided by Mrs. Meenakshi Arun, a Technology & Analytics Professional and an Urban Gardener. The intent of the session was to inspire the need to create green spaces in an otherwise urban jungle to help contribute towards the eco-system. She is a strong believer in the concept, “Eat what your grow”. This is evident in the food she consumes, as 80% of it comes from her organic home garden. Apart from providing an insight about the need for green movement, the session also included virtual garden tours of the speaker, students and faculty.
In her My Garden Story, Meenakshi spoke eloquently about her passion for gardening which stemmed from seeing both sets of grandmothers and mother who were passionate gardeners. She has been a gardening since the past 19 years. Began initially at her parents’ home while growing up, it continued in her marital home as well. She created her home garden with succulents and progressed to growing herbs and fruit trees. Sharing her passion for gardening were two other like-minded neighbours. From utilizing balcony space in their apartments, they eventually encroached the terrace when they started running out of space. This also brought a sense of community as they provided access to other residents of the building complex.
The concept of growing her own food came about when she went to visit to a nearby farm with her neighbor to observe how Spinach was grown. Disturbed by the sewage water that was being used to grow the greens, Meenakshi felt a strong urge to create her own edible garden. This small initiative bore fruit and was no longer limited as a passion project, but rather a way of life.
When the time came to leave the apartment complex, to her current abode which was an independent home, the count of the plants that she had to carry to her new home accounted to 400 in number. With more space available in the compound of her new residence, Meenakshi was able to successfully grow, not just edible plants but also a variety of flowers, medicinal plants and trees and succulents.
While narrating her, “My Garden Story” through a virtual guided tour of her home garden Meenakshi also shared some useful tips like companion planting, give importance to local plant varieties rather than chasing exotic rare plants. The home garden is a green oasis wherein water provisions have also been made to ensure that birds are not parched especially during non-rainy season. The growth of plants and trees are also a harbinger for restoring a balance in nature. Apart from the garden within the compound she has also planted will guide the viewers through the concepts and need for gardening.
Meenakshi stressed on the need to adopt a sustainable gardening approach. She does not let anything from her garden or kitchen go to waste. Twigs, dry leaves, flowers whether from her home or surrounding areas and even food waste are carefully segregated to be used in composting. This ensures minimal emission of greenhouse gases and addition of compost to soil only improves the structure of soil and reduces soil erosion. She spoke of the need for correct waste segregation and pointed out that it is the duty of every homeowner to ensure that it is done consciously.
Encouraged by the My Garden Story virtual tour by Meenakshi and her explanation, a number of faculty and student viewers participated in a Q&A to get advice on starting a home garden. She replied by stating the importance of sunlight and the kind of plants that one can grow to start on their journey of creating their home gardens. Meenakshi also advised to get acquainted with like-minded neighbours if one lives in an apartment complex. If provisions to plant on the terrace are denied then they can make use of the space they have in their homes. The light from each side of each apartment is different and hence bringing people on board will only help to utilize the space in each individual’s home to plant different types of plants. This will help provide a sense of community, eat healthy and help in the creation of a green space.
Once the speaker session was over, faculty and students took the viewers through their own My Garden Story. Most of them narrated that the lockdown played a role in them starting their home garden. Though the reasons varied – therapeutic or they sought inspiration from a family member or to spend more time as a family or as an ode to a Goddess. Gardening became a sense of connecting with themselves and nature.
My Garden Story helped the viewers understand the importance of creating a green space and urged everyone to be a part of Change. It is a way to give back to Mother Nature. Gardening also transforms spaces and is also symbolic of being grounded or rooted.