If you pass by Bindu’s and Jojo’s and Bindu’s house in Perampra, Kozhikode, you’re sure to be awestruck by the brilliant colours of the bougainvillaea flowers their garden is brimming with. Yellow, pink, purple, green, you name it, they’ve got it all.
This couple has been cultivating these paper-like flowers for the past 20 years in their 36 cent land and is now earning a monthly income of Rs. 2 Lakhs through their garden! Attracted to their garden like bees to flowers, people came to them asking for tips and techniques. The enterprising couple not only readily obliged but soon turned it into a flourishing business where they sell their beautiful plants, provide flowering arrangements to weddings and set up instant gardens for their clients.
In between the hectic personal job/farming schedule, the couple manages to conduct motivational and entrepreneurship classes on the weekends for several institutions including schools and colleges.
No wonder that the busy husband-wife duo has been honoured with the Kerala State Yuva Karshaka Award in 2003 and the National Progressive Farmer Award From the Prime Minister for their amazing work!
Being Rooted In The Family
“When I first moved to the house, I saw that Jojo’s mother, Tresiya, 85 had created a mini Amazon in the 12 acres of land that they owned. And although I also came from a family with a farming background I had never seen anything like this in my life. It was absolutely stunning. They had coconut trees, livestock, beautiful flowers and several fruit trees,” says Bindu Joseph, (40).
“We lived as a joint family at that point, which included 11 of Jojo’s sibling and their families. It was a completely new experience for me. Everyone including Jojo’s mother used to work day and night on the farm. This was a real motivation for me and soon I also started pitching in my time for farming and learnt several lessons from Tresiya about cultivation. You could say that was like a training period for me. I also took this as a chance to really become a part of Jojo’s family,” she smiles fondly.
After their children were born, Bindu and Jojo moved a few kilometres away from their family home to their new place and soon started cultivating in the 36 cents of land surrounding their house. At the same time, Bindu restarted her career as an economics teacher at St. Mira’s Higher Secondary School, Perambra.
“The children were grown up and Bindu was ready to restart her career as a teacher. So I decided to make use of the land that surrounded our house and started cultivating several plants – some of the sapling that we collected from our family home and some from nurseries that we had collected from across Kerala. It was a lot of new things at once, but both of us were determined to make everything work, ” says Jojo Jacob, a full-time farmer.
Besides bougainvillaeas, they also grow turmeric, ginger, bush pepper, litchi and have even started a nursery, selling saplings to their customers and visitors who stop by to see their magnificent garden.
A Floral Haven Where the Bougainvillaea Blooms
In just a year’s time, the couple had left no space in the land and had cultivated plants in its every nook and corner. And yes, the terrace and the fences were definitely not ignored.
“The bougainvillaeas that we grow are not the local variety, so they would grow upto even 7-8 feet and would drop down on our fence. This attracted a lot of people to enquire about our cultivation methods and in no time we started selling saplings, providing flowers arrangements for weddings and even helped our customers set up instant gardens,” explains Bindu.
And Maria Thomas, one of the couple’s clients, is extremely happy with her instant garden. “The instant garden that Bindu created for my new home was absolutely fantastic. In just a week, she had filled the space with beautiful bougainvillaeas along with a few ball aralia shrubs which gave life to the garden just in time for the housewarming function,” shares the satisfied client.
Simultaneously, the couple started cultivating several other plants like turmeric, ginger, litchi and mangoes. To make the maximum use of the space they have, they would alternate the position of the plants according to their climatic needs.
“Bougainvillea, for instance, needs a lot of sunlight so, during the summers we keep the pots in the garden and during the rainy season, we shift them to the terrace while we bring down the turmeric and ginger in the grow bags to the yard,” explains Jojo.
Jojo’s and Bindu’s 36 cent land cultivation started gaining a lot of popularity leading to several recognitions including the National Progressive Farm Award from the Prime Minister.
After the couple had received the National Progressive Farm Award, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK ) under the administration of the Indian Institute of Spices Research Kozhikode, decided to sponsor the couple with a nursery set up in order to encourage farming and provide training in Kozhikode.
“The KVK set us as a model farm and soon several students and researchers started visiting our home to see the cultivation that we did. Several of them started purchasing our saplings as well. This became a weekly routine and soon our sales started soaring and we began to have an average of atleast 60 visitors every week,” explains Bindu.
“Everyone wanted their garden to look like ours, so we started providing our fully grown bougainvillaeas in pots helping them set up an instant garden for Rs. 20,000-30,000 depending on the number of potted plants,” explains Bindu.
Efforts Bearing Fruit
For the past few years, the couple has been following a 5 Am – 11 PM schedule which includes cultivation, sales, teaching and even motivational talks and classes!
“Since I have to teach at school, we wake up at 5 Am to clean the nursery and pack lunches for everyone, the day time work for the garden is taken care by Jojo and I join him by 4 PM after I get back from school. Somedays we even stay up till 11 in the night to work on the garden,” explains Bindu.
Bindu also has a channel on Youtube with more than 64,000 followers. “Around two years back I started a YouTube channel named ‘Tech Flora’. It is a great source of inspiration and it gives me a lot of joy to know that people are truly appreciative of the work that we do,” Bindu explains.
“But beyond the money and the fame, we find true happiness in seeing the fruits of our labour flourishing,” she smiles.
Jojo and Bindu’s land burgeoning with the fruit of their labour now stands as a great motivation to several urban gardeners and a testimony to the fact that with the right amount of dedication and time, any kind of cultivation, in any amount of land can reap a fruitful harvest.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)