Organic vegetables, for cancer-afflicted kids

Feb 02, 2014, 10:09 IST | Richa Pinto

Over 40 families staying at St Jude's Child Care Centre at the Tata Memorial Centre in Kharghar avail of fresh veggies for their children undergoing cancer treatment. This is thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers called Green Souls who undertake organic farming in their backyard

It’s bad enough that common citizens have to pay through their nose for vegetables in the city. But for young children fighting cancer, and for whom a diet of fresh vegetables is essential for their treatment, even more so. Keeping this in mind, a group of volunteers have started organic farming in the backyard of St Jude’s Child Care Centre at Kharghar, located in the premises of The Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education of the Tata Memorial Centre. St Jude’s centre, which is home to 40-plus families, whose children are in the city for cancer treatment, would initially get close to 2 kg of greens. Now, with the efforts of these volunteers, the quantity has gone upto 20 kg of vegetables on an average in a week.

Initially, the produce from the farm would be bare minimum, but with time and effort, there is a decent quantity of veggies and fruits being made available here. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Green fingers
This initiative started by a group of volunteers called Green Souls, began their work on a half-acre plot and today, that very farm is close to an acre. SUNDAY MiD DAY caught up with Airoli resident Julius Rego who initially began working with just two people in his team. Rego said, “When we first started, the ground was full of weeds and grass as tall as seven feet. It took us time to clear and level it. Besides, we were looking at getting organic farming done, which would be without the use of any fertilisers or pesticides. Initially, the produce would be bare minimum but with time, we are getting a decent amount of veggies.”

A number of residents and locals residing in the vicinity have volunteered for the cause. Anjali Yadav, 30, an HR professional in a pharmaceutical company living in Vashi, has been involved in this initiative for a year now. She said, “With it being the winter season in Mumbai, we have been growing green leafy vegetables like spinach, radish and cabbage.”

Fresh from the farm
The good part about this initiative is that it helps save money of families who are otherwise required to purchase their greens from the vendor and cook it at the centre. Shivaji Bhosale, who hails from Ratnagiri, has been staying at St Jude’s with his wife for their eight-year-old daughter’s treatment for round cell tumour. Speaking to SMD, he said, “My daughter is undergoing chemotherapy and there’s nothing better than her getting fresh vegetables. It’s great.”

Meanwhile, St Jude’s believes that the purpose of farming veggies is to benefit the families. Tyaba Bilgrami, manager of Development Projects at St Jude’s said that the land ideally belongs to the hospital and has been given to them to make the best use of it. “The driving point from the beginning was to get these children fresh vegetables, which would be uncontaminated and benefit the child who is undergoing treatment.”

Vegetables grown in the farm

Pudina: Relieves indigestion while strong odour helps open up the airways.
Spinach: Full of vitamins and also a source of proteins
Flat beans: Good source of manganese
Fenugreek: Fibre content is said to be good for the body
Everyday vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, green peas and cabbage are also grown at the farm. Fruits at the farm include bananas and papayas.
Each family saves close to Rs 30 a meal on vegetables because of this initiative

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