In this age where laziness leads to increased energy consumption, very few households actually strive and work in a way to save energy units. A casual visit to Retnakaran’s house in Peringamala prompted this write-up for the sheer amount of management he does, in this regard.
Retnakaran is known as a milkman in Vinayak Nagar and Valiassala.But only a handful few know about his skills in gardening and vegetable cultivation.
As you enter his compound, over an acre of land, lush with green trees, greets your eyes. Jackfruit, bananas, guavas, tapioca, coconut, lady’s finger, beans, and what not.
“Earlier we used to break off the tips of hundreds of beans at one go. And the blisters on our fingers wouldn’t heal for days later,” says Retnakaran with a twinkle in his eye.
“Now it is very hard to get people to manage the vegetable cultivation, and I am not being able to look after them as I once could,” he says. Vegetables used to travel from his farm to various markets in the city. Now, that has considerably reduced, and the fruits too are distributed in the local market. “We used to have cows in the house and my father used to distribute milk. Later I took that up,” he reminisces.
Ratnakaran is from a poor family. He has worked hard to earn whatever he has. On the days he can’t make the rounds to supply milk, his son does.
Retnakaran’s house is a menagerie of sorts. Gardening is only one end of the game; Retnakaran has his hands full with many other activities. Pig farming is the latest brainwave. With an increasing demand for pork, it has been fetching quite some money. Once or twice in a year, buyers from Kannur take the pigs for a hefty sum.
Retnakaran’s son has a fascination for dogs. A Labrador, a Rottweiler, a couple of local Indian dogs, and some other breeds also form part of the household.
The wastes of the pigs, rabbits and dogs, and domestic vegetable wastes are washed down into a biogas plant situated underground. Drains run from all the kennels and sties into the plant, and the biogas is used to produce electricity for cooking and other household needs. “So much gas is produced that at times we have to burn off the excess,” he says. The slurry from the biogas plant goes into making the manure.
“Now people don’t want to do gardening anymore. To get helpers are also very difficult. Their wages are always high and the work is almost never done well,” he says sadly.
His interest in gardening goes beyond his own farm. In spite of his busy schedule between milk supply and the demands of his garden, he finds the time for occasional odd jobs in the gardens of families who buy milk from him. He gives them helpful suggestions as to what manure and fertilizers to use. And the plants he tend to, always flourish. A man who applies his soul in his work, and reaps the rewards. A hero!
- Rasika Ramesh