Joseph Francis, a resident of Ernakulam, grows almost 40 varieties of trees and practices pisciculture in his compound.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong.
In just 5 cents of land, with 1800 sq ft being taken up by his house, Joseph does all this and more in his terrace and the remaining plot!
How It Started
n AC technician by profession and a farmer by ancestry, Joseph, 63, has been finding time to follow his passion for farming for the past 20 years. Starting with roses and then moving onto orchids and mushrooms, Joseph finally figured out that mangoes were his lucky fruit.
“My maternal home in Fort Kochi had a wide variety of roses that my uncle had brought from across India. Even when cut roses could only be seen in Bengaluru and were quite uncommon in Kerala, our Kochi home had a huge collection. This really inspired me. So when I moved into my own home with my wife, we started with roses,” Joseph explains.
After trying out his hand in many cash crops and even mushroom cultivation, Joseph decided to try out mango cultivation after seeing a few saplings being grown in grow bags at an expo.
“I thought to myself if they could grow mangoes in bags then I could use up space in my terrace to grow a few varieties,” he adds.
But instead of using grow bags, Joseph decided to use PVC drums cut in half to grow his mango saplings. With incisions made at the bottom for the excess water to flow, these drums have been raised on metal stands on the terrace so that they can be moved around easily.
His decision clearly paid off because today, this terrace is home to over 50 varieties of mangoes from across India—with some bearing fruit twice a year, and some, throughout.
Joseph has also created a variety of his own using the grafting technique and has named it ‘Patricia’ after his wife. He claims that this variety is the sweetest among the lot. Alphonso, Chandrakaran, Neelam, Malgova are some of the other famous varieties found in the terrace.
With at least 20 visitors every Sunday, his terrace has now become a sightseeing spot of sorts, and to those who are interested, he also sells his saplings that range from Rs 2500 to Rs 10,000.
“The hardest and the most important part is the maintenance of these plants. I’ve opted for a drip irrigation system so that plants are watered sufficiently. The trees have grown up to 9 feet, so the roots are pretty strong, so I make it a point to move the soil around in the drums so that it has room for moisture and nutrition,” Joseph explains.
Besides the mangoes, the terrace is home to many other fruits like jackfruit, rambutan, papaya, sapota and vegetables like bitter gourd, cabbage, ladies finger and tomatoes which he uses for his household needs. Joseph has also set aside an area to cultivate over 50 varieties of orchids using aquaponics and has invested in fish farming as well.
“I started with almost 250 varieties of roses, and today I’m cultivating mangoes. The point is, I was never interested in making a profit. Even today I give away all of my products to my friends, family and the visitors for free because that’s the joy of farming truly lies in someone enjoying the harvest you’ve cultivated,” he explains.
Setting an example to the many people complaining about the limited space in their homes, Joseph has proven that farming is possible for anyone, anywhere!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)