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In a unique concept, a 'shop' selling garden-fresh vegetables, without a cashier or anyone attending to the 'buyers,' has become a hit in Koonammavu, which is near Kochi in Kerala. However, the catch here is that the shop is actually not a shop, nor does it sell. The venue just displays fresh produce from a four-acre vegetable farm cultivated by the youngsters.
Opened by residents of St Joseph's Boys Hostel residents, those coming to the venue have the liberty to pick up as many vegetables or bananas as they please, without paying. And if they want, they can also choose to put some money as in a glass bottle kept on the counter. The hostel is home to about 50 youngsters, aged between eight and 21, either from families of single parents or families that have split up,
This dynamism is inspired by a Catholic Priest, Father Bobby Jose. This initiative is being executed under the leadership of Arun and Godwin, who are 18 and 16, respectively. The boys, who are residents of the hostel, took inspiration from Fr. Jose, who was actively involved in setting up a hotel in Tripunithura that more or less was based on the same principle. Inaugurated about 75 days ago, the venture also provides home delivery of the vegetables by the boys.
The residents of St Joseph's Boys Hostel in Koonammavu also cater to 15 cows, and their milk is sold to more than 50 families in the town. Father Joseph told The Hindu, "The idea is to eschew commercialization. It is more than selling; it is sharing the fruits of one's labour." Owing to the success of their first venture, the young adults now plan on cultivating the salt-resistant Pokkali alternative of Paddy in about 10 acres of field in Konammavu. An Official of the Agricultural Department said that the area was being prepared for the same.
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