A series of articles based on my personal experience of turning our manicured garden, used to synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, into completely organic with the help of like-minded enthusiastic volunteers.
Sometime ago, a friend of mine recounted a heart-breaking tale involving her housemaid who had suffered massive crop damage in her hometown located in a neighbouring state. It was nothing to do with untimely rains or drought or any other vagaries of nature. But something purely man-made—a guided tour of disaster, planned and sponsored by agriculture experts who swear by deadly cocktails of pesticides.
Reckless use of pesticides had rendered the woman’s tiny strip of land lifeless. No matter how many more litres she poured into the soil, the ‘pests’ wouldn’t go away. In fact, they would come back with vengeance—some of them she had never seen before. She would once again go back to the experts and come back armed with some more bottles. The next day, she would release the trusted ‘genie’, hoping for a magical turnaround. But what came out of the bottle was a Chimera—nurtured in swanky laboratories and let out lovingly to destroy life on earth with ghostly efficacy.
Quite often, one loss begets another. Going by the pained narration by my friend, it seemed that the hapless woman’s greater loss was loss of faith in farming itself. This fanciful mental illusion, this whole mad endeavour in pursuit of perfect farming solutions using pesticides had emptied her heart out, left her dehumanised and robbed her of her ability to love the soil.
Although such horrid tales are not rare anymore, what got me thinking was this: Are we—the so-called educated, city-dwelling people—better informed than this woman?
Pesticides & manicured gardens
With gated communities came the concept of having private gardens filled with exotic species, ill-suited to local conditions and therefore prone to diseases and frequent ‘pest’ attacks. It is usually the real estate builders initially design the landscaping while going horribly wrong with the selection of plants and trees.
Native species are apparently not fashionable enough for their target audience. Their advertisements generally show an upwardly mobile woman cooking in a spectacular modular kitchen with a basketful of broccoli, leak, thyme, parsley, colourful capsicums and various exotic salad leaves. (Cooking poor, local-looking onion, brinjal, palak and methi is passé. We don’t seem to digest them anymore after our short stay abroad). A beautiful garden is set in the backdrop and her husband and children are nothing but happiness personified.
In love with their own idea of high-class living, the landscape artists completely ignore the local species which are hardy and withstand all sorts of weather patterns gracefully. What’s even more befuddling is the buyer crowd that falls for this charade of mass expansion of mediocrity and successful dumbing-down.
Next: Outsourcing lung space