We have all been affected by COVID-19, and the women of the tea growing areas of central Sri Lanka have not escaped unscathed. As restaurants, cafes and hotels experience a severe downturn, in turn so are all the industries that service them. Sri Lanka grows both the high end tea preferred in prestigious establishments and the regular tea bag variety beloved in households around the globe.

As the women struggle to meet their household budgets with a reduced income, home gardens can provide a much needed boost to a family’s food supply – providing necessary nutrients and filling the tummies of active children and working adults.

The Mia Fratino association has sponsored agricultural training for 100 women. The training is provided in groups of 20 or less so that social distancing can be maintained, and when weather permits the training happens in the fresh air outdoors. At the training, each participant is given a small bag of seeds so that they can commence their own little vegie patch without hindrance. We have had a lot of success with this program in the past, the women really appreciate the independence and flexibility that comes with their cultivation, and they trade and share amongst themselves. Having just created a home vegie garden myself in the lockdown months, it’s also a great way of teaching children where their food comes from, and enabling all of us to feel a real sense of accomplishment after growing something from seed, watering, weeding, and then enjoying the fruits (no pun intended) of ones labour!

Happy gardening ladies!