We were fortunate to be introduced to Mitraniketan and its ethos of self-sufficiency. In addition to pottery and ceramics we are also interested in organic farming so when we discovered the KVK (farm science centre) we took the opportunity to visit the facility. One morning, Mr. Marimuthu the manager of KVK, took us on a tour and introduced us to all the activities undertaken at the KVK. We were delighted to find that the KVK has a fantastic nursery with a wild assortment of flowers, but also many fruiting trees and edible plants such as coconut saplings, grafted mango varieties, guava, many varieties of banana suckers, okra and cardamom to name a few. It also has a pepper plantation, a mushroom cultivation unit, a small fishery and acres of farm land where various crops are harvested. We were very impressed.
While on tour we were introduced to Sri Krishnathan’s nephew, Ashok. Ashok is a humble and practical man with years of agricultural experience. We approached him with our desire to learn a little about grafting and he instantly offered us personal, hands-on teaching whenever we had free time in the mornings.
On our first lesson, we stood fumbling with our grafting knifes in hand, watching Ashok demonstrate how to approach graft. Then it was our turn and it was our turn till we got it right. Ashok would watch us patiently, explain us the theory and guide our untrained hands through the motion of seamlessly cutting the test stems perfectly. It was thrilling. We trained this way several times, learning how to approach graft, patch bud, T-bud, saddle graft and air layer. Lessons would end with black tea in a small enclosure besides the nursery: the space where the gardeners and field staff meet at break time. We felt at home: they found our curiosity amusing and we found them to be genuinely friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.
Finally, it was time to test our skills on a living plant. We took turns to approach graft: and we successfully passed the test!