How can one convert the negativity being spewed by the pandemic into positive, creative and inspirational initiatives? A man in his fifties has dedicated his interest in backyard farming and has become an inspiration for how we can channel our interests and make ourselves productive during this troublesome time.
Living in Oman for the last 32 years, Azeez Hashim has no background in farming. He doesn’t know what is involved in crop production and has very limited knowledge in farming, seedling, ploughing or fertilising. His only connection to fruit and crop harvesting is buying fresh fruits and vegetables from the supermarket for their day to day needs.
Today, Azeez is an ardent gardener who grows dozens of varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables which he distributes among his friends after a rich harvest.
Azeez ventured into vegetable gardening and horticulture in 2013 after he was transferred from Muscat to Sohar and when he found there was a huge unoccupied land lying attached to his villa in Sohar.
“It was all accidental,” Azeez said.
“I just wanted to make use of the land and prepared the ground for that and put some seeds in it. Later, I experimented with various types of gardening and crops. Today, I have more than three dozen varieties of crops. A large flock of birds camp in my garden every day enjoying what I’ve built from scratch,” he said adding that waking up every morning to the chirping sounds of the birds is a life lived to the fullest.
What started as a hobby became a life extension that provided him with reason to wake up excited every morning. It also provided him with a new purpose and life mission. He visits the farm every morning with a cup of coffee in hand. Despite his busy routines, he finds it refreshing to spend time with the plants and birds.
“Just by being there among the green vegetation, the positive energy that I derive is amazing. Anyone can try this in their backyard or elsewhere,” he urged.
During the crisis caused by the pandemic, he devoted more of his time and his family members, efforts and resources into expanding the farm, adding more crops to it. And the result?
The farm that that once was just a barren terrain with rock pieces measuring a few square metres is now a very rich, fertile land with lush greens and houses a plethora of naturally grown varieties.
“I would strongly advocate people interested in gardening to begin by planting herbs in pots and that can be done even in the smallest apartments and even in a terrace,” Azeez said.
One can begin with growing coriander, mint, basil, curry leaves and even parsley which are suitable to Oman’s climate and make the lockdown period a useful one.
Azeez added that with limited movement around, gardening helps to take away one’s mind from the daily conundrum of life. He added that as the weather is also starting to get cooler, it is the perfect time for everyone to try their hands on backyard gardening.