3 decades of Goa’s famed home garden competition

‘Organic’ might be the buzzword these days, but gardening certainly got a much-needed boost, not to mention recognition, during the Covid-19 pandemic
Gardening by students of an agriculture  college in Goa
Gardening by students of an agriculture college in GoaGomantak Times

When it rains, everyone wants to plant trees. And, when it is winter, the focus is on vegetables and flowering plants.

One does not have to study to grow plants but, with a little study, growing plants becomes easier and the plants grow better. Hence, the need for the subjects of Agriculture, Botany, Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Microbiology and Zoology.

Now, we have undergraduate degree colleges in all these subjects, and only agriculture is yet to have a post graduate department in the Goa University. It will come sooner than one thinks possible.

Gardening by students of an agriculture  college in Goa
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In the year 1990, Dr Padmakar R Dubhashi, the then-Vice Chancellor decided to shift Goa University out of the GMC Hospital, Bambolim, (where it was born in 1985) and to its own home on Taleigao Plateau.

Judging in progress during BSG's Home Garden Competition
Judging in progress during BSG's Home Garden CompetitionGomantak Times

At the same time, Dr Arvind G Untawale (NIO, Dona Paula) and Prof SM Shetty (Dhempe College, Miramar) decided to lobby for the creation of a post graduate department of Botany at Goa University.

Thus, the Botanical Society of Dhempe College was expanded and registered as the Botanical Society of Goa, with teaching faculty and students of Botany from across the colleges in Goa as its members.

The VC was pragmatic and more than happy to establish the department. He also appointed me as the Garden Superintendent for Goa University on deputation from the Directorate of Agriculture.

Participants listen attentively at a garden workshop by the BSG
Participants listen attentively at a garden workshop by the BSGGomantak Times


The writing skills that I inherited from my father and learnt from my teachers and peers, alike, landed me with the post of secretary in the many committees that the VC constituted for the smooth functioning of the university administration.

One of them was a working group on development of the university campus at Taleigao (WGDUCT). It is here that I met Dr AG Untawale and got pulled in to be on the panel of judges for the BSG’s first home garden competition in September 1991.

Gardening by students of an agriculture  college in Goa
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What prompted Dr Untawale was an exhibition of plants that I had organized for the ‘Founder’s Day’ (June 28) with the gracious assistance of landscaper, Ashok Dande, and a truckload of ornamental plants from Codar Farm of my parent department under Dr Heman Y Karapurkar. I became a farmer-turned-gentleman gardener!

The VC encouraged me to write about the campus plantation to give Goa University a little positive coverage amidst all the criticism it was receiving in the local newspapers.

Gardening by students of an agriculture  college in Goa
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In January, 1992, I began to write a weekly column in the Gomantak Times Weekender. I am happy to be writing for GT again as I complete thirty-one years as a weekly columnist on plants.

We will soon be judging the 31st All Goa Home Garden Competition. It has been an annual event since 1996 and shifted from September-October to January-February from 2011, with the addition of a competition for kitchen gardens.

Gardening by students of an agriculture  college in Goa
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In 2012, it was difficult to find two gardeners who were organic and a prize was awarded to the sole entry. More and more garden enthusiasts are going organic and becoming celebrities.

Now, the Government of Goa is also promoting natural farming or Paramparagat Krishi. There are more vegetables in home gardens after the experience of the Covid lockdown. Agriculture is also receiving media attention. This is the way forward!

The author is the former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan

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