In the past few years, the growing trend of home or kitchen gardening has earned much of Lahore a green thumb, with citizens being inspired to turn their roofs, gardens and balconies into full-fledged seedbeds for cultivating vegetables, fruits, or herbs for domestic use.
One such individual is 57-year old Abdul Majeed from Gulberg, who has turned the roof of his five-marla house into a little garden, where he grows seasonal vegetables and decorative plants all year round. A small terrace one end of Majeed’s roof nests pots of brightly colored flowers that herald the coming of fall, while a patch of soil on the other end is where the elderly man grows the ingredients for his daily salad. Which, at this time of the year, include some greens, tomatoes, bell pepper, cauliflower, onions, and lemons.
“I always wanted a little garden of my own, but my five-marla house never had the space for a lawn. So after many years, I decided to build a garden on the roof of our third storey, all set with grass and plants like any other lawn would be,” said Majeed, who also believes that his initiative of starting a kitchen garden has helped him and his family make ends meet during times of economic inflation. “Fruits and vegetables have been getting more and more expensive every day, so much so that not a lot of people can afford them anymore. But since we grow all our own produce, it has been relatively easy for my family to maintain access to fruits and vegetables, even during shortages,” said the gardening enthusiast.
At the moment, Majeed’s rooftop garden has peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, lemons, onions, radishes, beets, a variety of salads, and coriander. While they plan to plant bells on the roof and cultivate other vegetables, including pumpkins, eggplants, apple gourd, and bitter gourds. “The seeds of these vegetables are easily obtainable. However, the main task is to provide timely watering and maintenance,” said the elderly man, who spends much of his free time tending to this plants and produce.
Like Majeed, his 11-year old daughter Faiqa, too has inherited her father’s green thumb, and helps with taking care of the family’s roof garden. Times when Majeed is out of the city, she waters the plants and vegetables. “My daughter calls the plants her friends, which I find beautiful. Sometimes our neighbours come over to ask for a lemon or some coriander leaves when they run out, and it always brings us great joy to be able to share our produce,” told Majeed.
Like Abdul Majeed, Rana Muhammad Dawood, a resident of Model Town Lahore, has also been growing vegetables and flowers in his lawn. His garden is ripe with cucumbers, lemons, salads, green chilies, and cherry tomatoes, which are used in salads. “The benefits of planning are limitless. If the kids want to make burgers or pizza at home, they can easily get some of the ingredients from our lawn, while the plants also keep our environment clean and green and reduce our carbon footprint,” opined Dawood.
The Punjab Agriculture Department, which encourages individuals like Majeed and Dawood, had launched the Kitchen Gardening Scheme a few years ago. Basic training was imparted to the citizens aspiring for kitchen gardening, while various seasonal vegetables were provided at considerably cheap prices. A spokesman for the Punjab Agriculture Department said that the kitchen gardening project has now become a part of normalcy. “There is no particular campaign for this, but there is a supply of vegetables and fruits seeds, and information is provided to the citizens so any can start growing their own fruits and vegetables,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2021.