Green dreams!

  • February 17, 2022
  • K V Daniel
  • 3 min read

Convincing adults to grow vegetables is a lot harder than convincing kids to eat them, I found.

Convincing adults to grow vegetables is a lot harder than convincing kids to eat them, I found.

Kerala is nicknamed God’s Own Country. Tourists come from all over the world to bask in her lush tropical beauty. Bustling backwaters beckon. Exotic and delicious foods abound. From appam (thin rice pancake) to puttu (crumbly breakfast dish) to sadya (typical 5-course meal), Kerala’s sumptuous cuisine entices travelers to return again and again. But did you know that not a single vegetable in that avial you just savoured was grown in Kerala?

It’s true. Kerala grows no vegetables. We import from neighbouring states.

At first I couldn’t believe it. We are one of the greenest and most fertile regions in India – why on earth don’t we grow our own vegetables?

Answer: economics. As long as it’s cheaper to buy vegetables than grow them, why grow them? So I was told, over and over.

But I couldn’t let go. I did a little research. I already knew that Kerala has appalling cancer rates among children and while that had always shocked and grieved me, I never dreamed I could do anything about it – until now! Why not two birds with one stone? Fresh ‘green’ food – wouldn’t that be better for everyone? As Indians, we take a holistic approach to health, with nutrition playing a huge role, so surely people would jump at the chance to grow their own vegetables?
Or at least buy locally-grown vegetables even if they cost a little more?

Unfortunately, no. Economics and convenience always won over health and quality.

So I decided to start at the other end, and go top-down. I decided to find allies.

I found an engineer-turned-agricultural-professor and a mushroom-farmer-cum-businessman who saw the potential and were willing to join hands in taking it forward. At last, we could get moving, even if in a much smaller way than I had hoped. And that’s how The Grow Your Own Food initiative began. We began with a model for families on how to grow and enjoy their own food organically in their own garden, terrace, backyard, or even a few pots on a balcony. For example, almost everyone can afford to grow mushrooms which are delicious, nutritious, and even profitable. Or tomatoes. There are many options for those willing to try.

Today, the GYOF project is about 8 months old. Its mission is to grow vegetables that can produce yield 365 days a year, organically, economically, and with minimum human intervention. Like our crop, we’re small, but we’re strong and we’re going to keep growing, no matter what.

Wish us luck! And keep watching this space. I’ll update here as and when I can.

(Note: for information on the Grow Your Own Food initiative visit or write to me at

Update, March 11 2017: I’m delighted to welcome Ashwanth MP, who got in touch with us through this blog, to the GYOF team. I’ll write a post soon on the ideas we’re working on, stay tuned. Ashwanth is already doing amazing work in this field, check out his All-Purpose Land Preparation Machine for Agriculture.