Do you know, there are 150 seed varieties in pumpkins that exist on the earth? How many varieties of eggplants or Okra do you know? Unfortunately, there are many varieties that are at risk of extinction.
Every one of us just knows about some vegetable varieties and some fruit varieties which we eat in our daily life. But there are many more beyond when it comes to vegetables and fruits.
But one person passionately started saving as many varieties of vegetables as possible for him. We will deeply look into the article, and see who is that person and what is he doing to save varieties of vegetables and others.
Story Behind Why an Engineer Turned Into Farmer
Aravinthan R P is 38 years old and born and brought up in the small town of Karur, Tamilnadu. His father is an advocate but he also did farming on ancestral land. As Aravinthan was brought up by seeing his father, he is always under the influence of farming.
Like everyone, Aravinthan completed his studies in engineering and then completed his masters in Germany. And worked as a research assistant for some years and came back to his father’s words.
As his father runs a school, his father wanted Aravinthan to take care of the school. So by quitting his job, he came to India and worked in a college. In 2015, his father took over another school and Aravinthan shifted there.
That school has 150 residential students who stay in a hostel. So, Aravinthan got the idea of growing food in the school to feed the children with healthy food.
At the same time, an Aravinthan friend is growing vegetables on his terrace garden and he says about how juicy and tasty those vegetables are he also said that it is not that difficult if we use the right methods.
With that inspiration, he decided to start growing vegetables, but at that time he realized that the seeds were difficult to procure.
He brought the seeds from the farmers and planted them, then after harvest they also saved the seeds and replanted them to save the varieties that were going to extinct. Like that in 2016, the terrace garden was started in the school.
However the food is not sufficient for all the students, so Aravinthan took a space between the playground and the compound wall which is about 30 feet.
Students’ Participation in Growing Vegetables
In 2018, one incident happened between a student and Aravinthan. He asked 8th-class students “Where do tomatoes come from?”, Then the student replied by showing the neem tree, he said that we plant a tree, that grows big and then we harvest tomatoes from it.
By listening to his answer Aravinthan was shocked and thought that the next generation doesn’t even know where their food comes from, so he decided to introduce farming to their students to change their perception towards vegetables and fruits.
He started encouraging students to do organic farming. By this, he thought students would get close to nature and grow their own food. As he also has an interest in saving many different seed varieties it all started.
For that, he encouraged school teachers to provide plants to kids on their birthdays and told them to grow those plants for 15 days by planting and watering and then they needed to harvest their crops.
Aravinthan decided to provide radish plants as they easily grew in 15 days. Because of this, even students started to be motivated towards farming.
All this was started just to give healthy food to their residential kids. But it totally turned into a different thing. He said, “ There are a lot of varieties that exist in the world that we can grow without chemicals and pesticides”.
If we can able to find them, we can able to grow vegetables and fruits without any chemicals.
It is a Service, not a “Business”
As every student interested in participating in farming, they started a program called agricultural sciences in our school.
This course helps students in planting crops and harvesting them. So that students will get a first-hand experience in farming who are interested.
He said, “We also started providing grow bags to the students, those grow bags are with seeds and tools. Students need to plant the seed and grow it on the campus.
The seeds that come from the harvest need to be stored in the seed bank. The idea of Aravinthan was simple, he wanted to give children a healthy diet. Nurturing the seed bank is also important to save the varieties that are going extinct.
Finally, he says, “Today we produce 2000 kg of vegetables and various varieties of beans per year. As the years passed, they have stored hundreds of seeds and are trying to preserve more.
And they use the older seeds first when they grow, for every couple of years the seeds are renewed by multiplying and they add them to the collection.
He grows a range of vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, radish, okra, chilies, broad beans, drumsticks, pumpkins, and some pulses like green gram, pigeon pea lentils, and many more.
Aravinthan says “ The produce is mostly consumed by the resident students and the leftover is taken by the staff and they take it home. And still, if there are any leftovers students will keep them in stalls and the neighbors can take them for free of cost.
Neighbors will know whether there is stock left or not through WhatsApp updates. Even many teachers give the best testimony about organic vegetables.
The seeds that we are preserving are given to enthusiasts who are interested in growing. Rather than selling, we will try to share them. Preserving seeds is not for selling but it is a service for me says Aravinthan.
Finally, our main aim is to provide a healthy diet to students make farming more profitable, and induce more and more youth into agriculture. In the future, Aravinthan wants to grow corn. But he says it is very difficult to prevent cross-pollination in different varieties of corn.
Aravinthan says “When my friends ask me about opening a school, I told them to do it as a service not as a business. If we need to mould the future generation we need to be careful how we nurture them.
Of course, we need money for infrastructure and also for the equipment but it should strike a balance.