Meet Praveen Kottavathil, The Expat Who Manages Produce From His Own Garden

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An Indian expat living in Dubai has not shopped for vegetables and a lot of other day-to-day kitchen requirements, ever since December. Wondering how he’s managing? Well, Praveen Kottavathil maintains his own, sweet kitchen garden and poultry at his villa in Al Quoz. The lockdown has affected our grocery shopping in many ways, but for this man, things have been very different.

Credits: Gulf News

What’s It?

Praveen has not felt the need to step out to the supermarket during the lockdown, thanks to his very own vegetable garden. The 3,000 sq ft plot grows ivy gourd, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mint, curry and coriander leaves, spinach, beans, chillies, watermelons, tapioca and sugarcane. “Everything is grown pesticide free, “ said Kottavathil from the Indian state of Kerala.

Credits: Gulf News

The Produce

It’s not just veggies! Praveen also has a small poultry where he raises chicken, without any genetic modifications. Yes, that also means- fresh, organic eggs. In addition, there are four beehives in his backyard formed through natural pollination- so the family enjoys fresh, organic honey. How awesome is that!

Credits: Gulf News

The idea cam up because Praveen always enjoyed eating fresh produce – one that is pesticide-free. This sustainable lifestyle fit his bill perfectly. None of the produce from his farm is up for sale and Praveen is very clear that whatever his garden gives, is only for family consumption. A large part of the produce is also given to friends and others in need during this pandemic.
The garden belonged to his friend first. However, Praveen and his family have been taking care of it ever since they moved into the villa. “We have always been self-sufficient in our food produce. But during the national sterilisation drive when we could not step out of the house, we realised the value of our garden space even more. Trust me, we never needed to buy any of these things,” he said.

How He Manages The Garden

Praveen grows his herbs in a very innovative way. He uses aluminum pipes picked from construction sites for this purpose. Everything in the garden is sustainable. In fact, the water from the fish tanks is used to irrigate the green landscape his kitchen garden offers.

Credits: Gulf News

“Algae water is good for plants. I have fitted pipes running from the tank to the garden area. The fish tanks are recycled with fresh water every two days,” he said.

Apart from this, the garden is taking care of by the entire family. Praveen’s wife is an ophthalmologist by profession, but she also helps quite a bit in keeping the garden alive. His children Ayanviraj, 8 and Mithuna, 4, also pitch in. Every morning, the family spends time outdoors, playing with rabbits, and digging their hands into the soil. Praveen is happy that he is able to provide his kids a health, eco-friendly lifestyle, just like the one his father gave him.

In many ways, this whole sustainable farming I am doing now has come as a full circle for me at a personal level,” he adds.

Vaishnavi Venkataraman
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