Community kitchen garden improves food security, nutritional needs of Adivasi village


By Chandrika Patnaik

10 July 2023

A Farmer Producer Group revives a community kitchen garden to improve food security of the village.

Farmer Producer Group members working at the community managed kitchen garden.

Photograph by Abnaijar Raika

In November 2022, 15 residents, including five women, from village Upara Landusahi in the Gajapati district of Odisha formed the Mahadev Farmer Producer Group (FPG). The group members decided to continue with the community kitchen garden which was already in place a few years ago. The members of the newly-formed group grew cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, radish, and leafy vegetables like amaranth greens, for their consumption.

Upara Landusahi village in the Rayagada block of Gajapati has 25 Adivasi households with small landholdings. These households are engaged in agriculture, cultivating paddy and pulses during the monsoon and winter seasons. Few of them grow vegetables in their backyards, while most depend on vegetables bought from the weekly market in Laxmipur Panchayat, about five kilometres away. “Though women walk to the weekly market to buy vegetables, visiting the market every week is difficult,” says Sita Bhuyan.

Previously, the residents managed with whatever they could get within the village, like leafy vegetables from their backyard gardens. Realising the need to supplement the nutritional requirements of adults and children, the residents mooted the idea of a community kitchen garden a few years back. Most families nevertheless lost interest and dropped out after the first season because the yield was low. “With low returns, it was difficult to motivate the residents to devote time and continue with the community kitchen garden,” says Sita Bhuyan.

Sita Bhuyan, 32, Secretary of Mahadev FPG, says, “When we formed the group last November, the first activity we decided to do together was to continue with the community kitchen garden which had come up a few years back in the village.”

The Mahadev FPG took the initiative to grow vegetables to meet the nutritional needs of the group members and their families, providing them access to freshly-harvested organic produce. The FPG has five women members – Sita Bhuyan, Hiramani Sabara, Lakshmi Sabara, Jamuna Sabara and Sujata Sabara.

The women took the initiative of levelling one-acre of land, clearing the shrubs, and removing the weed and grass to restart the garden again. The members grew cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, radish, long beans, and leafy vegetables. They took turns looking after the community garden daily.

Sita Bhuyan feels forming the FPG was essential for the farmers in the village, “The group helps small and marginal farmers like us to come together and pool our resources. We can buy farm inputs in bulk at a cheaper price and sell our produce together at a higher price. As members, we also get access to credit, loans and advances from the group.”

Santosh Sabara, President of Mahadev FPG, was happy with the training the Gram Vikas team gave the group during a meeting after the formation of the FPG. He says: “They told us to purchase good quality seeds from the Rayagada block, not the local market. We prepared raised beds and provided adequate soil moisture throughout the growing season to help the plants establish strong roots. We used organic manure like cow dung which gave us good yield and added taste to the vegetables. All of us, especially the women members, took care of the plants while taking turns to look after the garden daily.”

Sita Bhuyan says, “There was enough vegetables for all the FPG members throughout the winter as the yield was good. We have been able to distribute the vegetables from the garden among our village’s residents too. It gave us a sense of satisfaction to provide for the entire village.”

Lakshmi Sabara, 60, a member of the FPG, says that working with group members has motivated her to look after the garden enthusiastically. She says working together has given them a sense of belonging, “We feel connected as we take decisions collectively to care for the group’s interest.”

Sita Bhuyan, the Secretary of Mahadev Farmer Producer Group and other members chose organic vegetable farming to receive nutritional value.

Photograph by Monalisa Mallik


Monalisa Mallik helped in story collection. Priya Pillai edited the story.


Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas.


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