Kitchen Garden: A vegetable garden from where a family can get their day-to-day needs of Nutrients at very low maintenance and cost in Kamrup, Assam.
Rituparna Saikia lives with a family of five in Baranghati village within the Rangia block of Kamrup Rural district in Assam. Her family relies mostly on farming for their diets and livelihood. The area is best for cropping a vegetable. The farming that does go on is seasonal and harvests barely last through the lean months.
Rituparna Baishya mentions that prior to Joining the Program her family’s diet lacked diversity and consisted mostly of the crops they could grow on their farmland or what they could purchase in the market, the main reason for joining the program was also the family’s diets. Rituparna further noted that relying on the market for food can be costly; thus, their family could not expand their diets through the market.
Intervention by Citizens foundation
A key intervention through the Holistic rural development program supported by HDFC Banks Parivartan, initiated by distributing seeds and helping create kitchen gardens near hand-pumps or where families are disposing of wastewater or in the backyard of the Kitchens. Kitchen gardens small plots of land where families can grow a variety of seasonal vegetables. These kitchen gardens are meant to increase food diversity in the diets of the participating families and reduce reliance on the market for fruits and vegetables. Kitchen gardens are a small but significant way for families to produce enough nutritious food to combat malnutrition themselves. However, for the project to be a success, Citizens Foundation’s first task was to help people to understand why they needed kitchen gardens. Initially, there was resistance and a lack of understanding as people thought malnutrition was not a problem in their families.
Training and Support
Citizens Foundation with support from HDFC banks Parivartan trained and supported the beneficiaries of Kitchen Garden in the 10 Project villages of the HRDP Project in Rangia and Hajo Block of Kamrup Rural Assam. The Field mobilizers together with the staff were also sensitized on the importance of the Kitchen garden before they worked with the beneficiaries. For people to stay healthy it is very important to have a healthy diet. A healthy diet means a balanced mix of carbs, protein, pulses, vegetables, greens, fruit, etc. Vegetables play an important role in meeting energy needs and thus protect against diseases. Vegetables are especially important for the young, and for pregnant and nursing women. Inadequate diet during child growth and adolescence can lead to impediments in physical and mental development with lifelong consequences. Rituparna says, “Kitchen gardening is the easiest way of growing desirable fruits and vegetables on our own piece of land, it gives direct access to diverse nutritionally rich vegetables”.
The staff of Citizens foundation also taught the beneficiaries when, and where to plant specific plants and seeds, watering and composting techniques, and how to protect crops from animals.
Impact and Future Plan
According to Rituparna, the kitchen garden has been impactful for her family and in her village. She began participating in the project in October of 2021. The initial batch of seeds has grown into a beautiful, diverse garden which includes cabbage, cauliflower, KnolKhol, chilly, Coriander, Beans, green leafy vegetables, Brinjal, Radish. Nirmala proudly claimed that the foods grown in the garden were being utilized in recipes within their home. Additionally, she said the quantity was more than sufficient for the foods to be distributed equally for the whole family. The intervention has also been successful in reducing reliance on the market except for some like spices, sugar, and oil.
Rituparna’s Kitchen-garden is in the Backyard of her Kitchen, while she cooks her dishes she can Pluck the chilies fresh from the garden and use it in her curry. For watering her Plants she uses the hand pump and also the wastewater used for washing dishes directly drips into the kitchen garden. She also proudly exclaims that all the vegetables produced from the garden are Organic as she doesn’t use any kind of Pesticides rather she uses vermin- compost.
Rityparna Plans to extend her varieties of cultivation in order to increase food diversity in her household, she also plans to teach other households to learn the art of Kitchen Gardening for good nutritional vegetables which would further allow this intervention to be sustainable for the foreseeable future
“Because of my kitchen garden, we have vegetables in our own backyard and this provides me with nutrition as it is organic, also I save money which was to be spent on vegetables every week on the market”.