Thankamani and Narayanan open their eyes at the first stroke of sunrise. They both wake up to birds chirping and mild sunrise with their sight (and smell) falling on the 20 varieties of jackfruit trees including, Vietnam Early, Chembarathi, Sugandha Varikka, Seedless Jack, and Rose Varikka. It also features 30 varieties of bananas 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.
Thankamani, a retired principal of the Government Moyan Model Girls Higher Secondary School, Palakkad, and her husband A Narayanan, a retired Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus conductor, are leading a peaceful retired life at ‘Prakruthi Kshethram’ – a 7.5-acre plot of land purchased by the couple in 2013 for cultivation.
“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.
Meanwhile, Narayanan adds, “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 In some more years, I will have far more varieties of plants at my farm.”
Bitter Beginnings on The Farm
It was no easy beginning. “Travelling to the farm every day was not possible as we were 30kms away. 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,” Narayanan recalls.
On shifting to the farm, they installed cameras to check on intruders destroying the farm. This has worked as a deterrent. After their installation, no one has tried to enter the farm or destroy the crops.
Narayanan continues, “I also grow 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.”
There are two helpers at the farm to help the duo. 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.
Profits at a Bus Stand
Narayanam earns Rs 20,000 to Rs 45,000 every week by selling his produce.
Java 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 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.