“AGROECOLOGY FOR ALL: Initiatives in Malaysia” – URBAN GARDEN

A family that cares for the environment in their daily activities. From left Prabahar, Mullaimalar, Lingesh and Sakanna.

Agroecology Starts at Home

(Part 1)

The daily chores and activities of Mullaimalar’s family prove beyond doubt that agroecology starts at home. The family implements best environmental practices with great care. In the process, to a significant extent, they minimise the damage inflicted on the environment. Along the journey, they guide friends, relatives and acquaintances to tread the same path.

The front porch of Mullai’s house is lined with turmeric, cat’s whiskers, Indian borage, holy basil, Sabah snake grass, betel leaves, adamant creeper Solanum trilobatum and pandan, all of which are loaded with medicinal values.

These plants pervade Mullai’s kitchen in the form of juices, snacks, and air purifiers. While the curcumin loaded turmeric is used in cooking, the turmeric leaf is dried and added to the traditional holy smoke intended to purify the air. Mullai claims the aroma of the smoke is refreshing and eases lung congestion.

The Indian borage, touted to be an immune booster, is added to the dosa (Indian pancake) batter in the form of a paste before making it into a dosa.

Mullaimalar makes sure her family is fed with the best food, and her balcony garden, although small, plays a significant role in it.

Mullai’s husband, Prabahar, is all-supportive of the family’s move toward a greener life. “Very often, any deviation from the prevailing norm sparks a negative reaction. Hardly anyone had set up a garden in our apartment block.

“The apartment’s management does not encourage anyone to grow. We are the only few that grow a variety of plants. At times, dried leaves from our plants land in the unit on the lower floor, and harmless millipedes find their way to neighbouring houses, for which we receive a warning from the management.

“So, the human race has degraded to the extent that it doesn’t tolerate anything other than its own species,” pointed out Prabahar.

Most household cleaners and detergents contain phthalates, parabens, lead, triclosan, and oxybenzone. These chemicals are proven to be neurotoxins, disrupt the human endocrine system, and cause hormonal imbalances and respiratory illnesses.

Phosphates that are present in detergents and dishwashers cause algae to bloom and kill fish and other aquatic animals by reducing the oxygen in the water.

One could avoid these toxic chemicals by opting for environmentally friendly cleaning agents.

Freedom for all living beings: Sakanna and Lingesh love to feed birds.

Mullai’s son, Lingesh, prepares his own effective microorganism (EM) solution. The information gathered from the internet enlightened him as to the many ways EM can be prepared with minimal cost. (See Part 2 post.)

Citing the environment as a reason, the whole family had become vegetarian. In fact, it was Mullai’s son, Lingesh, who first became a vegetarian, after which the rest of the family members followed suit.

The family also prepares their own vegetarian milk (see Part 2 post for recipe). The interviewers were welcomed with protein-rich groundnut milk. The family claims the milk keeps one energetic throughout the day.

Mullai expressed satisfaction that through such healthy daily practices, she could see her children growing up as responsible human beings towards the environment and society.

Agroecology Fund