A retired couple in Kerala’s Palakkad district is celebrating their retirement together in a very unique manner – by growing a staggering variety of vegetables and fruits in their farm. “There are different ways to enjoy retired life. We wanted to make it special and peaceful so my husband and I decided to do cultivation in our plot,” says P Thankamani, who retired in 2005 as the principal of the Government Moyan Model Girls Higher Secondary School, Palakkad. Her husband A Narayanan retired as a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus conductor in 2002.
While still working, Thankamani and her husband purchased a 7.5-acre plot of land. In 2013, the duo started cultivation in the plot.
As Narayanan tells The Better India, “From childhood, I have been cultivating crops at my house. So before my retirement itself, I had made the decision to utilise my retirement for cultivation. Now I have different varieties of fruit trees, vegetables at my farm named ‘Prakruthi Kshethram’. In some more years, I will have far more varieties of plants at my farm.”
Bitter Beginnings on The Farm
Narayanan recalls, “The home where we stayed before 2013 was 30 kilometres from Palakkad town. Just to farm, we travelled there a lot – which is really far from our home. Travelling to the farm every day was not possible due to the distance. So twice or thrice a week we visited the farm. But then we noticed that some people were destroying our crops. So we decided to make a small shed for my wife and me. The shed has two rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom. We were more than happy to live there.”
After the couple shifted to the farm, they installed cameras to check on intruders destroying the farm. The cameras seemed to have worked as a deterrent. After their installation, no one has tried to enter the farm or destroy the crops.
The couple has two daughters, Aarathi and Ardhra. Both are working abroad. “When they come to their hometown, they live with us in the shed. They are happy to be with us in the peaceful farm,” Narayanan adds.
An Abundant Variety on The Farm
The farm has over 20 varieties of jackfruit trees including Vietnam Early, Chembarathi, Sugandha Varikka, Seedless Jack and Rose Varikka. It also features 30 varieties of banana including West Indian Cherry, White Apricot and Wood Apple. The farm also has mango, rose apple, dragon fruit and guava trees. It also grows star fruit, mangosteen and star fruit.
Narayanan adds, “I also have vegetables including tomato, beans, and pumpkin. The sapling of the vegetables and fruits were mainly collected from my friends who are staying in different parts of the state. Once they get some special or rare fruit seed, they give it to me as they know I will look after them. That is how I have varieties of plants on my farm. For example, I grow a bitter gourd which doesn’t taste bitter. ”
There are two helpers at the farm to help Narayanan and his wife. The 73-year-old adds that if there is more work on the farm then he hires more people when needed. Still, he says that most of the work is done by him and his wife.
Making Profits at a Bus Stand
Narayanam used to earn almost Rs 20,000 to Rs 45,000 every week by selling his produce. But the pandemic has changed the scenario and there has been a dip in income. However, he is confident that in some months things will be alright.
Jaiva Samrakshana Samithi’s members collect the organic vegetables and fruits from Narayanan’s farm and sell the produce on all Mondays near the KSRTC bus stand in Palakkad.
“I don’t prefer to sell my farm produce to unknown people. Those who want can collect it from the bus stand, or can come home and collect it from me,” he says.
Narayanan, who is also the president of the Jaiva Samrakshana Samithi, says that more than profits, he chose cultivation to feel relaxed. “At this age, there is no need for me to make money because I already have a good pension from the government. My wife also gets a good pension for our livelihood. Whatever we earn, we use it to buy more varieties of vegetables for the farm,” says Narayanan.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)