Five young and aspiring agriculturalists in Panbang under Zhemgang dzongkhag scouted out the property’s most promising garden spots and eventually settled on a sunny site which judging from its thick growth of grass was highly fertile.
The members have agreed to name the garden as the Nishoka Organic Garden in loving memory of late Dasho Nishoka who transformed the poverty-ridden countryside into an agricultural hub.
The Nishoka Organic Garden was first initiated on September 2012 when the five passionate farmers won the title of best gardeners during the 21 days long training on organic farming last year. These farmers were conferred a certificate and few packages of high breed seeds at the end of the training.
When asked about their purpose to kick start the organic garden, one of the members Tshering Wangchuk said that lately farming has become increasingly chemical based and the five members unanimously agreed to promote organic gardening to encourage other vegetable growers back in the village.
He said that deciding to go organic was a no-brainer; Most of the conventional ways of managing a garden revolve around killing everything, knocking Mother Nature off-balance and then adding a bunch of chemicals to get her groove back which he feels is not a sustainable system by any means.
The organic gardeners use only animal or vegetable fertilizers rather than synthetics which also means natural pest control devoid of industrial insecticides.
The members up to now have planted Chilies, Corianders, Broccolis, Cauliflowers, Cabbages, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Radishes and Spinach. The members yielded eight kilograms just in radishes and minted a few thousand in cash.
However the member’s first foray into organic gardening wasn’t too auspicious and they failed to grow organic vegetables a few times when a drought in winter lead to the garden drying up.
“It was only after we started structuring the soil with all kinds of natural stuff we saw the healthy growth of the plants,” he said.
This is happening despite numerous challenges the member’s encounter. Lack of adequate water during winter and torrential downpour during summer is a major bottleneck. During summer the unremitting rainfall tear down the nursery plants and impinge on the growth and strength of the saplings.
“We gave the battle our best shot,” said Tshering Wangchuk. He said that in spring the members work vigorously to expose the weed’s roots to sunshine and drying winds. However when the plant begins to grow the weeds come with a vengeance.
“While weeds flourished, our plant leaves curled, the beet tops wilted and the tomato, radishes and cabbages stagnated,” “Our harvest was poor to say the least, but the rich, lush growth of weeds convinced us that the soil was fertile and that our chosen spot was a good.”
About a 25 decimal plot of land leased to the fervent agriculturalists cater the produce to the nearest market in Panbang.
The garden still has standing vegetables which the members expect to harvest after one month.