Greenscapes on Infosys’ campus

By TheHindu on 24 May 2018 | read

The state-of-the-art, ship-shaped building of Infosys’ main campus has always piqued the curiosity of passers-by. Step inside the sprawling campus and the greenery around is a grand sight — paved road and pathways flanked by huge trees, flowering and ornamental plants; benches laid in the shade of the trees and squirrels scurrying around while birdsong fills the air.

In a run-up to World Environment Day (June 5), MetroPlus visits the 50-acre campus on the Kazhakoottam bypass, which is constantly adding to its green cover with landscaping and several other initiatives. “Our aim has been to create a natural forest on the campus,” says an employee. Hopping on to a company buggy with a team of officials, I go for a tour of the verdant campus.

The campus has nearly 8,000 trees above six feet high! Starting with the huge rain trees that create the green canopy with their umbrella-shaped crowns, the tree cover is a mix of flowering trees and fruit-bearing ones. Mango, guava, gooseberry, pomegranate and sapota flank the pathway, along with clusters of kanikkonna (Golden shower), elanji (Bullet wood tree) and ficus. Jambakka (water apple), custard apple bushes, a separate area with five varieties of plantain and rows of njaaval (jamoon), mangosteen and rambutan have been carefully nurtured on the campus.

While the landscaping has been finished in Phase I, it is going in full swing in Phase II. Basically, it is the Thettiyar rivulet running through the campus that divides it into Phase I, covering 12 acres, and Phase II, the remaining 38 acres. Jackfruit, tamarind, kokum, arecanut, ilanthapazham (jujube), ambazham (hog plum), poomaruthu (jarul), ezhilampala (milkwood pine)….are still in the growing phase.

Acting as “oxidising agents” are rows of wild neem trees. Planted alongside are rows of Geiger trees (Cordea Sebestenea) with dark orange flowers and hibiscus in six different varieties. Work is on to create a butterfly park, with flowering plants like lantana, jatropa, creepers and bauhunia that are known to attract butterflies.

Farmers’ forum

Going in on full swing along with landscaping is another in-house green venture, Sprout. Envisaged under the Emerging Leadership Forum, an initiative that aims at “producing the next generation leaders within the development centre”, Sprout is an organic farming forum comprising employees. “Sprout comes with the tagline ‘Reap all you sow’. We wanted to encourage employees to take up organic farming at their homes. Many of them want to do farming, but couldn’t because of space constraints or lack of experience. So we set an example by growing vegetables in grow bags on less than 10 cents of land on the campus,” says Rahulan Madhavan, anchor of the initiative.

The employees, over 350 of them, were divided into eight groups and given hands-on training by experts. “Commonly-grown vegetables were planted in 450 grow bags in August last year and we got the first harvest in October with nearly 35 kilos of vegetables. The employees took the produce home, cooked them and brought the dishes to office!” exults Rahulan.

Carrot, different species of palak, cucumber, cowpeas and water melon were added in the second season. During the course of the programme, seeds and curry leaf saplings were distributed to the employees. In the third season, they are cultivating crops in the soil. Yam and papaya have already been planted. Passion fruit was recently introduced in the farm, black pepper will be planted next month. Plans are on to try new farming techniques and cultivate crops such as ginger and turmeric.

Taking care

The employees attend to the crops before or after their working hours. “Some of them come with spare clothes to work on the farm. They collect cow dung from the households nearby. We have an active Whatsapp group that keep each member updated about the farm. There is healthy competition among the groups to improve the harvest. What makes us really proud is that many employees have started farming at their home. They are now working towards harvesting crops for Onam,” says Rahulan, himself a passionate farmer.

While the sprawling campus has three ponds, of which one is man-made, recycled water is used for landscaping, irrigation and cooling. Water usage is kept to the minimum through the use of sprinklers and drip irrigation. Only organic manure is used, with the organic waste generated on the campus also going into it.

A highlight is the section devoted to rare and endangered species of plants, a project that is done in association with Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute. The plants stand on a bed of yellowish orange flowers of peanut plants.

Milestone celebration

To include every employee in the green revolution, the company has been running a programme where those employees who complete 15 or 20 years of service in the company get a tree in their name. They turn up with the families and get to plant a tree as well. This year’s celebration has been planned for June 5.

As for the maintenance of big trees, only those branches that pose danger are cut. The rest are pruned and treated with medicines so as to avoid pest attacks. Trees with birds’ nests are spared. “This campus has become a birds’ paradise with at least 30 different species of birds. There are reports of peacocks coming in. The only problem is the bird droppings!,” another employee points out.

The fruits are left untouched. The employees are allowed to take them home.

“Usually we leave it for the birds, squirrels and even monkeys. Our intention is to have a natural green cover that will create a thriving biodiversity,” the employee points out. Way to go green!

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