Forty-one-year-old PR Sunu reaches his office a little after 7 every morning. Once there, the government employee from Ernakulam proceeds to get hold of a garden hose. The next half hour is spent watering the plants in the 25 cents plot adjacent to his office, that has now been converted to an organic vegetable garden.
Sunu is the Sub-Inspector of Mulavukadu police station in Ernakulam and the daily routine of the 18-odd police personnel at the station either begins or ends with tending to the organic vegetable garden they cultivate.
Mulavukavu police station in one among the many police stations in the state, that is in the process of being converted to green police stations, as part of the government's "Haritha Keralam" initiative.
The initiative that began in November last year to promote organic farming, saw the police personnel growing vegetables of 27 different varieties on the land adjacent to the station.
"Our station is situated on a 10-cent plot and it was not possible to utilise any land there. The panchayat officials were co-operative of our efforts and so let us cultivate on the 25-cent plot nearby. Now, from a dry wasteland, we have converted it into a beautiful vegetable garden in a matter of months," Inspector Sunu says.
"With all pride, I will declare that ours is the best and 100% organic vegetable garden in the state," the Inspector declares.
For the inspector and other personnel at the station, Mulavukad is yet another halt before they move on to other places as part of work.
"We will all eventually get transferred out of here, but there's something highly satisfying about carrying out farming. Ours is a job that demands us to be on our toes all the time and is one that gives us a lot of tension. For us, farming is a getaway from all of that," the Inspector explains.
The people of Mulavukad are not only pleasantly surprised at the police personnel managing to grow carrots - that are said to grow well in cold temperatures - but have also begun to contribute to the initiative.
Nearly 80 km away in the neighbouring district of Thrissur, the police personnel at Nedupuzha station too, are basking in the glory of having made their first harvest.
On April 7, they reaped the results of three months of their effort, in the form of cauliflower, cabbage and tomatoes. Here, they have used 50 cents of the 1.5-acre compound to grow organic vegetables.
"I got posted at this station in November and saw that a piece of land was being used only to park the vehicles that are seized. The area was not maintained at all and weeds had grown beyond measure. When I spoke to my senior officers about converting the land into a vegetable garden, they were supportive of it. Agriculture department officials too, worked with us to develop this space," says Satheesh, Sub-Inspector of Nedupuzha police station.
The work began in December last year, with the Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar sowing the seeds.
The initiative has also influenced the way people perceive them, feels MC Biju, President of Police Association. Speaking to the media, he said, "Not just give protection to the lives and properties of the general public, but also cater to their other needs, is what we are trying to do."
While the produce from the vegetable garden is not up for commercial sale in Mulavukad, the produce from Nedupuzha station was sold out and the returns were donated for the treatment of underprivileged patients.
"As of now, we consume the produce ourselves and some residents just walk in, and take some. We never stop anyone from taking away the vegetables," Inspector Sunu says.