Thoppampatti Poonga Nagar, a village in Coimbatore proudly calls 85-year-old Nanjammal as “Vegetable Grandma. She has tremendous knowledge about plants and vegetables and usually begins her day by inspecting numerous homes in her village to examine the growth of the plants in each garden.
She is proud that she is in-charge of 160 vegetable gardens. She goes about giving direction and advices the villagers throughout and also motivates them to plant more and more plants. She still finds the time and energy to engage in farming tasks despite her health getting worse.
Nanjammal has been helping her family in the fields since she was seven years old. She farmed on a one-acre plot of land that her in-laws had given her while raising her three children.
She motivates others to plant. Additionally, she is responsible for starting more than 160 vegetable gardens in two towns near her home. In the beginning, Nanjammal used to go to Anyapalayam, another village nearby, twice a week to inspect the plants and answer the gardeners’ questions. She asserts that farming is a fantastic method to become independent, particularly after retirement. It promotes physical and mental wellbeing.
Her son, Bharathi Chinnasamy, assists his mother by providing seedlings and the direction needed for vegetable production to two nearby villages. Bharathi firmly adheres to Gandhi’s philosophy and thinks that every hamlet ought to be independent. He has spent the last 12 years working with a self-help group to achieve this goal. Five years ago, Nanjammal joined her son in the cause with the goal of establishing vegetable growing as a means of community self-sufficiency. Bharathi began giving away free seeds to villagers six years ago so they could flourish, but she received no compensation for her work. So Nanjammal began to distribute free seeds once more, and she continued. She went to each home once every four days to assess the development of the saplings.
At first, people were perplexed by her behaviour. But soon they began travelling to Bharathi in quest of seeds and saplings. Following Thoppampatti, Nanjammal launched this project at Anyapalayam, her ancestral hamlet in the Erode district. “My mother thinks that every family in India should cultivate their own veggies,” Bharathi states. She then assists each family in the community in establishing their kitchen gardens. There is no stopping her.
In the beginning, Nanjammal used to go to Anyapalayam twice a week to inspect the plants and answer the gardeners’ questions. Most of the activities are managed by Bharathi alone because of her deteriorating health. The mother-son team has been successful in establishing kitchen gardens in 10 villages in Coimbatore through group efforts. To ensure the independence of rural India, they intend to keep farming and gardening.