Leading by a ‘green’ example


During these trying times of multiple crises, there are many dos and don’ts we as citizens can follow to alleviate the burden on ourselves, even by the smallest amount. One such avenue is home gardening. Despite our highly urbanised lifestyles which have resulted in many city slickers having to buy even curry leaves from supermarkets, the fact remains that a little effort put into home gardening and a little from your leisure time allocated to growing your own greens and veggies can make a significant difference. In terms of your food behaviour, the quality of food you consume, as well as your overall happiness, gardening is as therapeutic as it is financially rewarding.

Home gardening as a concept is not a novelty one. It has been around for thousands of years and many, despite leading busy lives, are taking part in reaping its rewards both literally and figuratively. However, the value or the importance of home gardening has never been so hard-felt as it is now since the country is currently facing perhaps the worst economic crisis it has experienced in centuries.

‘Home Grown’

Many are voluntarily adopting home gardening measures while others are in need of a bit of convincing, sponsoring, or that nudge towards the right direction. In this light, Hilton Colombo is promoting home gardening with launch of ‘Home Grown’ campaign to promote home gardening among the hotel’s staff members.

Marking the initiation of the project, 1000 cassava (manioc) seeds were distributed among the team members of Hilton Colombo. Since the goal is to encourage team members to pick up home gardening, the project has selected cassava as its first seed to be distributed mainly, because it is easy to plant, does not require much space, require little to no fertilisers, considered a wholesome meal, and gives out a substantial harvest in a short period of time. If growing such a rewarding and easy-to-grow plant doesn’t awaken the gardener within the team members, then the collaboration with the CIC Agri Business is sure to do the trick.

As the leaders in the agriculture business in the country, CIC has a proven track record in terms of building the most beneficial seeds, developing crop-specific fertilisers, and giving out necessary knowledge to succeed in agriculture. The Home Grown campaign and the collaboration with CIC Agri Business were officially announced recently at an even held at The Blue, Hilton Colombo.

Speaking at the event, the Area General Manager – Sri Lanka and the General Manager – Hilton Colombo Manesh Fernando said that the idea behind the Home Grown campaign is to encourage the hotel’s team members to pick up gardening as well as to lead by example so that other corporate entities can follow suit by entailing home gardening promotional projects in their sustainability and CSR initiatives. Not only will it impact positively on the food behaviour of the home gardeners, it will also contribute towards taking at least a fraction of burden off the shoulders of the consumers during these trying times of economic crisis.

A timely necessity

“I always thought that we should promote growing our own greens and vegetables. It is also one of the means how we contribute to the national economy and the national domestic product. However, given the economic crisis we are facing at the moment this sort of became a necessity. Fertiliser shortage, food shortage, high prices of fuel; these are all interlinked. So I thought while we are supporting our team members in other ways we should initiate a campaign of this calibre because not only this is individually rewarding but also the participants can take it to the next level by bringing more in to home gardening as well as expanding their own gardens at home,” opined Fernando when asked about the idea that gave birth to the Home Grown initiative.

As far as the collaboration with CIC Agri Business goes Fernando said it is a no-brainer since they are the one of the bests, if not the best, in agri-business in Sri Lanka. Predictably, it has resulted in new and innovative ways to carry out home gardening as well as knowledge sharing about dos and don’ts in your home garden. During the event, Senior Agronomist of Uni Power, Rohitha Dabarera revealed the benefits of ‘grow bag gardening’ (GBG), introduced a home gardening starter pack, and even demonstrated how to use the contents of the starter pack.

The event was participated by representatives of the hotel’s management, representatives of CIC Agri Business, and team members of Hilton Colombo; especially the chefs representing the kitchen staff. As ones who always strive to find only the best ingredients for not only the cuisines prepared at the hotel but also at their homes, the chefs can stand to have heaps of benefits by adopting the practice of home gardening.

“Let’s hope other corporate entities will also adopt promoting home gardening among their employees. I know we are in a crisis but as the saying goes, there is a silver lining in every dark cloud. So, if we help ourselves I believe we are going to learn some serious stuff and learn to help ourselves because if we aren’t helping ourselves who will? As the middle class of this country, we are largely consumers and not producers. But if we can change that and begin to contribute to the production as well, even via home gardening, I believe it can have potential to make a huge difference,” concluded Fernando.   

(Pix by Sarath Kumara)

By Sanuj Hathurusinghe