MOM Greenathon – Mangaluru Gears up for WED

MOM Greenathon – Mangaluru Gears up for World Environment Day 2016

Mangaluru: For those of us who have had the pleasure of landing at Mangalore International Airport, it can be quite a memorable experience. Unlike the high-rise buildings that invite us in other cities, landing in Mangaluru, the port city, is like landing in a sea of green. Mangaluru, best known for its tropical climate and its simple, yet warm people, has always been the home for flora and fauna of various kinds.

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However owing to rapid urbanization and global warming ,there has been a drastic change in the weather pattern resulting in unseen temperature fluctuations and sadly declining levels of rainfall year after year, which has never been more prominent than it was this year, with Mangaluru facing an unprecedented shortage of water. Though technology and progress have to be received with arms wide open, is it time for us to retrospect? Are we moving at a pace so fast, that we fail to analyze or observe what is happening to nature? Are we responsible for the rapidly worsening Greenhouse effect, that is, in turn, causing erratic changes in the weather patterns? Are we sacrificing our childrens’ healthy future in exchange for the enticing promises of quick and easy development? Is there something we can do to if not completely reverse the process but at least have a promising beginning?

On this World Environment Day June 5th, 2016, MOM decided to learn about plants and gardening and its effect on our children’s future.

Dr K S Bhat is popularly known as a senior professor of medicine and widely experienced consultant physician in Mangaluru . What people don’t know about him is that he is a man of humility and an avid horticulturist. Among his other initiatives to preserve nature he has a solar energy harbouring panel in his home. He believes his passion for gardening will inspire the future generations of Mangaluru to preserve the greenery around them. As we enter his humble home, we get the sense of being inside a terrace farm that has been nurtured with love and care. Here is what Dr K S Bhat had to say to the Moms of Mangaluru.

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Q: Sir, What is common between a plant and a child’s mind?

Dr K S Bhat: A child and a plant are both God s innocent creations. They are both malleable and need tender loving care and nourishment. If they are taken care of well, they will promptly and proudly yield fruit.

Q: Why is it important to involve children with gardening at an earlier age?

Dr K S Bhat: A child who is brought up in an environment of gardening, will learn to be mature, patient, virtuous which in todays world mean the difference between a successful future and a stressful one, and he will understand the importance of preserving nature and will not destroy it.

Q: At what age did your love for gardening begin and what inspired you?

Dr K S Bhat: I am a born agriculturist. Gardening is not new to me. I have been focused on terrace gardening for the last four to five years, as I have more time now to devote to this passion of mine. I believe that charity and education begin at home. I want to nurture the love for plants and gardening in my grandchildren. After all, our future lies in them.

Q: What do you feel is the impact of growing one’s own food at home, on the family? Does it increase self-confidence in children?

Dr K S Bhat: When we grow our own vegetables at home, we get them free of toxic chemicals and those that are healthier. There is a sense of mental satisfaction and well-being that seeps in. When we plant together with our children, they learn a lot about nature, vegetables and begin to value them. There is a huge treasure of knowledge here that we have to share with our kids. Eventually, gardening will teach our children to love plants and nature.

Q: Tell us why your garden is special and what plants do you have?

Dr K S Bhat: My Garden is special as I do not use soil to nurture my plants. I use locally made and available COCO PEAT. I have all local varieties of vegetables and a few rare varieties of medicinal plants as well.

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Q: What plants would you recommend for cultivation for early learning horticulturists?

Dr K S Bhat: All local varieties of vegetables are easy to grow in Mangaluru. Most plants can be grown in pots with coco peat without soil. A large amount of space is also not mandatory. Just good sunshine should be available.

Q: As a horticulturist, what message do you have for today’s mothers, children and families?

Dr K S Bhat: Just one message: JUST LOVE PLANTS. START GARDENING. You can start with small scale gardening and eventually will learn to love gardening. Most of us would give excuses like we don’t have space or don’t have time. In the present times, all gardening equipment and materials are easily available. We just need to make time.

As a physician, in my experience, I have seen that for people with ill health, gardening can drastically improve mental and physical health. So I want to encourage all the people of Mangaluru, irrespective or their age or occupation to the garden. You can begin today. You can begin in your own terrace, backyard or even your bedroom window will do.

An initiative by Moms of Mangalore. (Interview by Dr Joylene D’Almeida)

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Dr K S Bhat’s terrace farm and the solar panel installed in his home

About the author:

Dr Joylene Diana D’Almeida M.S OBG, F.M.A.S is an Assistant professor and Consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, Father Muller Medical college hospital, Mangaluru.

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