At Fort Kochi's Chullikkal St Antony's Church festival, a young man made news by supplying 40 kg of cauliflower grown on the terrace of his home on 2.5 cents of land. Now he has stepped into a holistic process and product tourism model growing organic vegetables and serving culinary delights prepared with them in the same home terrace.
Joji George, a part-time driver at the office of Assistant Director, Agriculture, Njarackal, Vyttila, is now also a successful tourism entrepreneur. After newspapers reports applauded his free cauliflowers to the church festival, he was approached by travel agencies that took an interest in converting his terrace into a destination for foreign tourists for experiencing home grown veggies and homemade food.
Making changes to the terrace using the rain guard given to him by the Agriculture office, he now hosts tourists to a delectable sadya in the midst of his rooftop farm. Atop his house, in the neatly arranged grow bags are eggplants, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, ladies finger and spinach. He also grows cowpea and passion fruit along the sides. His guests are received with a glass of juice extracted from the Chinese orange tree grown in a barrel on the terrace. He will also be harvesting his own paddy from the 15 growbags with 'Uma' variety rice in them.
The sadya is adapted to the low spice taste of the tourists, mostly from France, Holland and England. The food is prepared by Joji's mother, wife Vidya and sisters. Ward member Antony is also a source of constant support for Joji.
Joji's inspiration was the successful rooftop gardens that he happened to visit during the course of his work. What started off as a hobby has now brought the family several small and big agriculture awards and a permanent source of income along with recognition and identity.