Tsunami Files #18: A Garden in the Sand

Vegetables ready for planting in Periathazhai. Photo: Simon Chambers

The 2004 tsunami had long-term effects on the land around the village of Periathazhai, India. All the soil was washed away and the ground water salinated. PWRDF has been working with a small group of fifteen women from the village to mitigate these effects.

In 2010 the group launched a community nursery in their village. They had received 60,000 rupees ($1200 Cdn) in seed money from the Churches’ Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), a PWRDF partner working with the village since the tsunami. Half of this money was used to rent land and purchase fruit trees and vegetable seeds to start the garden. The other half is being held in reserve for emergencies or to expand the program.

The women received training from the forest department in soil management, how to prepare the beds for the vegetables, and the long-term planning of a sustainable garden. “First we will develop shade trees to help retain water and protect the vegetables, then we will plant kitchen gardens,” said Mrs. Jemita, the president of the group.

The group made a gift of the first ten saplings to the local church, and are selling the rest of the trees to other members of the community for 35 rupees each””just enough to cover their costs. Once the trees have taken root, the group will make vegetables available: beans, radishes, tomatoes, brinjal (eggplant), lady’s finger, spinach, and more.

In time, they hope to improve the land around their village to make it able to support the villagers’ home gardens. The trees will help to keep the rain water in the soil, and will provide shelter from the harsh sun for the vegetables. From the barren sands around Periathazhai, gardens will grow.

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