When there’s a will, there’s a way. When given an opportunity and space, 10 young community members from Nongprut (West Khasi Hills) rose to the occasion recently to set an example on the importance of kitchen gardens for other youths of the community and to other neighboring communities as well, by starting a community kitchen garden at their area.
Last month, the NESFAS team, via a phone call, conducted training on ‘Youth for Indigenous Food Systems (IFS)’ for community facilitators (CF), where Omina Nongsiej, the representative of Nongprut was a part of.
A few weeks ago, Nongsiej held a workshop with all community members between the age of 15-29 and emphasized on the importance of a kitchen garden and how fresh produce is always 10 times better than vegetables and fruits that are available in the market.
After tickling the minds of these young people, it was brought to the CF’s notice that 10 youths who attended the meeting have taken the liberty to work on what they call a ‘Community kitchen garden’, which will benefit all the families of Nongprut. “They have decided amongst themselves that each youth will take the responsibility of weeding and watering the community kitchen garden every Saturday,” Nongsiej said.
When asked as to why they felt the need to start a community kitchen garden, Methous Iawphniaw, said, “A community kitchen was started because the school garden in our community was not functioning as the teacher does not live in the area and there’s no one to take care of it. The community garden is just a replacement for the school garden. That way, everyone can take care of it and not only do it when we have classes.”
At the moment, these boys and girls have decided to plant mustard leaves and coriander leaves at the community kitchen garden. “Our parents have started this initiative a long time ago, but that was something that they did. These kitchen gardens are meant to be examples of what we, as youths, can grow and reap on our own,” Arjunstar Marbaninang, another youth, said.
On the other hand, after a successful drive to start the community kitchen garden, the youths have also revived their kitchen gardens at home in order for their families. “We are doing this so that we can eat healthy vegetables and fruits on a daily basis and not only depend on the community kitchen garden,” Joynery Nongsiej said.