Not always are the fruits of labour sweet. For M. Ragunath it is sweet and sour as he has succeeded growing grapes on the terrace of his house on Gandhipuram Second Street. “I took it up as a challenge,” he refers to the decision to grow grapes.
When he decided to do something green and shared the decision with friends, a good number of them said that he could not grow grapes. “It was impossible,” was what they said, he recalled.
Sometime last October-November after making up his mind, Mr. Ragunath, a photographer and videographer, went to Thondamuthur to buy shoots from grape farmers.
He made grape cuttings and planted them in the tank he constructed.
“I did everything needed to grow the creepers – from constructing tanks to erecting the support structures to watering to now harvesting,” he says.
As the plants grew, he also went about collecting anything and everything that could aid the growth – cow dung, used cement bags, poles, etc.
“I collected cattle waste wherever I found them. And in doing so I did not feel shameful.”
Mr. Ragunath did what he felt right and did not seek help. But he said to himself that he would not use fertilisers or pesticides – and to this day he had been true to himself. “
I wanted it to be completely organic because I love environment-friendly agriculture.”
His commitment won him appreciation and also gained him friends. “Neighbours and all those who came to know of my growing grapes, came forward to help me.
Some of them gave wooden poles, a few others dung and others moral support.”
In keeping with the public contribution, Mr. Ragunath has started sharing the fruits of labour with all those who helped him, and also students. “I chose students because through the grapes and the growing of it, I wanted to create environment awareness among them.”
He has shared the fruits with the students of the Punitha Mariannai High School.
Father D. Peter Mariadass, the School’s correspondent and head master, says that more than 100 students and a handful of teachers had visited Mr. Ragunath's terrace-garden and were inspired to take up similar work on their terrace. The school management was also contemplating to do so.
Mr. Ragunath says that his green thinking has its roots in the Siruthuli movement.
He has also planted saplings on Gandhipuram streets and those saplings had grown to trees to provide shade.