Happiness is a vegetable garden

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I did not realize how much I missed gardening until I had the opportunity to get dirt under my fingernails. Yesterday I worked with volunteers from SPROUTS at St. Catherine’s Home. SPROUTS, an environmental outreach NGO, recently started a kitchen garden at this home for orphaned and at-risk girls. We spent about two hours weeding, mulching, cultivating, and tending the vegetables. There were four of us.

Sujata, SPROUTS intern (back, left), myself, and Anand Pendharkar, SPROUTS  Founder and Director (right) work
on eggplants growing in second planting area where the soil is deeper and less rocky. (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)
Artist, Sriharsha Sukla, took many of the following pictures. (Check out his blog to see some of his amazing art work)

A bit about the project and the site. The goal of the project is to establish a kitchen garden that will provide the girls with both healthy, fresh food, and an opportunity to learn about nutrition, sustainable gardening, and the environment.

Peppers and tomatoes harvested from the kitchen garden.

There are several garden plots in two different areas on the grounds. One area is on a small slope with  clayey, rocky soil. The second area, a level field with deeper soil, has been more successful.

Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers (from left to right) growing on rocky slope.
Anand (right) and I are trimming, weeding, cultivating the soil around eggplants growing in vegetable bed with
deeper and less rocky soil.  (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)

Onsite materials are used as much as possible. Terraces  have been built with rocks from the rocky soil. Sticks are used to stake the tomatoes and other leggy plants. Compost piles fed with onsite organic  debris provide soil amendments to improve soil texture, drainage, and composition. Organic debris from the compost pile and around the grounds is also being used as mulch for weed control, moisture retention and to improve the soil. Even seedlings that grow from seeds spit out by the consumers (the girls) are  replanted. Currently peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are growing in the garden. Sunflowers and lentils have been started recently.

New beds on rocky slope. Sticks, rocks, compost and mulch all come from the site.
From right to left, the beds are alternating between mulch-covered soil and sprouting lentils.

I usually don’t include many pictures of myself – call it modesty (ha, ha), or maybe it is just because most of the time I am the one taking the pictures.Well, Sriharsha Sukla was happily snapping away while we were playing in the dirt and here are a few of the many pictures he took.

Anand did provide gloves but you know how it is – I love getting dirty. (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)
Checking out the eggplants. (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)
Hard work leads to sweat and…. (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)
fun and… (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)
good food. (Photo by Sriharsha Sukla)


2 thoughts on “Happiness is a vegetable garden

  1. Wow the kitchen garden looks good in the photos! Thanks Barbara ma'am for a lovely blog of our activity at St. Catherine's home, Andheri (W). We are grateful to you & Mr Sukla for joining in the activity. I would like to share here – Your desire & vision led you to travel the distance & to help us. It was a pleasure to meet you.

  2. Thank you, Sujata. It was my pleasure working with you and I am looking forward to doing it again tomorrow. Barbara

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