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Cultivating organic vegetables passionately

After working for 26 years on board a ship, Milton Gomes from Molla, Sailabhat in Cavorim is creating ripples in the village with his organic farming and has even succeeded in getting his cousin to also take up vegetable farming in the village.

Milton 1  Milton 3Fed up of working under someone for so long, and burning with a desire to be his own master Milton gave up his lucrative job and settled down at home. He took up gardening including kitchen gardening at his house originally and then went in for vegetable cultivation at his plot admeasuring 1,200 sq mts at Fatranmoll. Vexed with the chemically treated vegetables available in the market especially after witnessing the good quality vegetables used on the ship, he went in for totally organic cultivation and has gained a few die hard supporters who do not mind paying the extra money these organic vegetables cost.


RadishMilton delivers the vegetables to the houses of his few regular clients in Chandor and to some even in Margao where he has sold radish at the whole sale market. “The wholesale vegetable market at Margao operates only before 5 am, hence I had to leave early from Chandor to access it,” he says.

He grows an assortment of vegetables that include leafy vegetables including Amaranthus colloquially known as tambdi or dhovi bhaji, palak. Incidentally he does not uproot the palak to harvest it but snips individual leaf so that the plant lasts long and gives bigger leaves.


ZukiniHe also grows different types of tubers that include radish and potatoes and other vegetables like cucumber and even zukini. While the zukinis found in the market are akin to raw cucumbers in size, Milton’s grow quite large and he even had one that weighed 900 gms.



He also grew different types of gourds including ash gourd, pumpkin and bottle gourd. Milton also grows two types of tomatoes, one being the local variety which he has grown from local seeds and the other being the exotic and popular cherry tomatoes which he harvests quite a bit.


Ash gourd    Pumpkin  gourd








Ash gourd, pumpkin and bottle gourd grown by Milton

SunflowerBesides these, Milton is also proud of his cluster bean harvest which has been plentiful and satisfying even though harvesting it is tedious. His sunflower cultivation besides brightening the area has also provided him with plenty of sunflower seeds that can be used in different recipes. Milton also had a rich harvest of turnips and lady fingers including some twin or conjoined lady fingers.

All the work like watering, sowing, harvesting and maintenance including fertilizing the plants, is done by Milton himself. “I only engage labourers whenever there is some digging work to be undertaken to prepare the soil for plantation and also to dig the pit or trenches for plantations,” he said.




Cherry tomatoes  Local tomatoes


Harvested cherry tomatoes and local Goan tomatoes growing at the farm




Although it is hard labour and work that he has not undertaken earlier, Milton enjoys what he is doing as it is keeping him busy and also in touch with nature. “I am not looking at it as a money making exercise, but yes there should be some returns and that is why I am seriously considering abandoning the organic cultivation,” he disclosed.

Cluster beansBoth the vegetable cultivations — at Fatramoll and his house at Molla – have drip irrigation with a well being the source of water. “I generally start the pump at 7 am when I start my work and the plantations get irrigated automatically,” he says disclosing that he then goes on his scooter to deliver the vegetables to the houses of his customers.


With the exception of a handful of people from the twin villages other are not really aware of the benefits of organic vegetables and opt for cheaper vegetables, rues Milton who disclosed that one vendor bought vegetables from him at a cheap rate and sold the same in the market at double the price. “For all the hard work that is put in to prepare organic vegetables, we do not really get paid well,” he rues.

Lady fingerHe is glad that owners of both the well-known restaurants in Chandor, namely Flames and Cuzinero’s use his vegetables in their kitchen and hence serve healthy vegetables to their customers.

Milton has also convinced his cousin to take up vegetable cultivation in 6,000 sq mts of land that the father had purchased but was lying fallow for all these years. This huge area has been divided into plots with specific type of vegetables grown in each plot. While one plot has only banana plantation another has pumpkin and water melons. Another has chilies and tomatoes while another has ladyfingers and brinjals. Another plot has only leafy vegetables growing while another has ridged gourds and cucumbers growing on it.

“My cousin who is living in Fatorda has employed a couple to manage his cultivation for him and he visits it regularly to monitor the growth and progress,” said Milton.


BrinjalBrinjal 1


Milton advises every homemaker in the twin villages to grow a few vegetables in their backyard and stop depending upon the vegetables available in the market. “It is very easy to grow two chili, two tomato, two brinjal, two lady finger, two bitter gourd or karela plants at home along with a few cluster bean seeds,” he said.


Interestingly, Milton’s family is obviously blessed with green thumbs and have a penchant for animal husbandry. His mother Felomena was known to rear goats, local pigs, ducks and fowls besides also cultivating vegetables like tomatoes, chilies, brinjals, cluster beans and both dhovi and tambdi bhaji. However, she cultivated vegetables for home consumption while the animals were bred for sale.

Pigs Goatchicken








Milton’s sister, Judith who is married and living at Sirvodem in Margao is also breeding animals besides cultivating vegetables and the cherry tomatoes grown by her are quite popular in the locality. Presently she rears pigs and free range chickens while earlier she had rabbits and even goats.