World Environment Day is generally seen as an occasion by most but over the years the need for us to observe it has made it a necessity. From planting trees to creating new habits to improve the environment, this day has undoubtedly become a global movement. This year, the theme for World Environment Day is ‘Generation Restoration’; this theme sounds simple and comprehensible at first but it actually runs pretty deep. The word ‘generation’ brings about the alarming need for younger and older generations to unite for the environment and ‘restoration’, though a common word means a lot by itself; it is our generational responsibility to our ancestors to restore the environment and its natural resourcefulness so that everyone in can reap its benefits and carry the movement forward in the future.
Actions Taken by our Indigenous Youth Fellows
On the 3rd of June, the Belkuri community led by Vincent Timung and the ALC members of the Laitsohpliah community led by Ibadahun Nongrum and Wanrila Khongngaiñ observed World Environment Day by organizing a cleaning drive and flower plantation and naturally fencing the ALC garden and planting trees respectively.
The Plasha community in Ri-Bhoi and the Nongwah community also planted trees and vegetables under the leadership of Roshan Klien Arjun, Ingty and Bianglin Nongbet.
We at NESFAS have truly come to realize the potential of Kitchen Gardens and we promote their importance to all our affiliations. Under the able leadership of Mr Sisarius Phangcho, a fellow from Umwang Nongbah, the members of the the COVID-19 Management Committee, Anganwadi, the Headman and ASHA planted various vegetables in the Anganwadi garden.
The Umsawwar Youth Club also celebrated World Environment Day by organizing a plantation of fruit trees and wild vegetables in the community garden. The Mukhap community tried doing things differently and carried out compost making to shed light on the importance of fertile soil.
In Garo Hills, Daribokgre, Bibragre and Tosekgre communities organised tree plantations. Sengte Ch Marak, fellow from Daribokgre shared, “Through this, we aim to increase biodiversity of trees which is beneficial for environment and there are also trees which gives fruits so this will also enhance the availability of fruit trees in our community”.
Interestingly, Tosekgre community identified and planted three varieties of tress which they believe will help in conservation of water and most of the plantation is done near riverside.
Securing what’s already Weak
Mr Hendri G Momin and other 3 PGS members from Darichikgre organized a tree plantation near landslide prone areas to reinforce the soil and keep it compact to safeguard everyone from the havoc of a natural calamity while also strengthening the environment in the process. Mr Hendri also enlightened the youth of the area about the importance of conserving local food systems and he also organized a cooking demonstration using indigenous resources to inspire the next generation of farmers and gatekeepers of the environment.
Here’s why we think Kitchen Gardening is more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle
Pius Ranee (Swer, East Khasi Hills)
“Our home pharmacy. We grow diverse crops here: like peas, taro, pumpkin, maize, and beetroot. My wife also brings wild edible plants in this kitchen garden as part of the domestication process. The plant looks healthy. This space has also become a learning center for my daughter Rebecca. She now knows which plants are growing in the garden. One of her favorite plants is peas which she really enjoys eating fresh.”
From our very own, Bah Pius, we can truly understand the unifying effect of kitchen gardening in bringing together members of the family and creating an environment of learning in the process. A Kitchen Garden is a “home pharmacy” which can prevent several immuno-compromising diseases.
Janak P Singh (Shillong, East Khasi Hills)
“My small garden is a special space which gives me an opportunity to connect with nature and it is incredibly rewarding. It offers me nutritious food, builds my patience and confidence and is a great teacher.”
Mr Janak’s kitchen garden consists of tree tomato, tomato, chilies, lettuce, cucumber, spinach, mint, coriander, lemon grass, pumpkin, beetroot, Khasi Mandarin fruit tree, lemon tree and chameleon plant. As he says, it has now become a special place for him; kitchen gardening truly holds a kind of therapeutic power which brings us immense gratification. To be able to facilitate the growth of something from the start is a beautiful feeling that all kitchen gardeners will relate to
To sum it all up, Mr Bhogtoram Mawroh of Shillong puts the importance and need of Kitchen Gardening beautifully, he covers aspects like mental health and the importance of patience which encapsulates the entire process of caring for the environment.
Bhogtoram Mawroh (Shillong, East Khasi Hills)
“Managing my own kitchen garden was a great stress-buster. Anxiety was a big issue during the lockdowns and restrictions brought about by COVID-19. I planted maize, squash, beans, carrots, onion and taro in my kitchen garden. Looking after it helped me to realise and reiterate the importance of time and patience. As I nurtured and took care of the plants it reinforced the fact that time is required for anything to come to fruition. No matter how much we may desire a plant will take its time to sprout from a seed buried underground till it matures and reaches for the sky. In the process it has to be cared for by constant inspection, weeding and watering. And when the plant is finally harvested the joy of seeing something accomplished is palpable. Everything takes time but patience does not mean inactivity. Instead it means a deliberate involvement with the situation and taking steps to make it better. This is what I learned from my kitchen garden.”