Gyan Maharajan stands next to her cauliflower harvest - the vegetable is so big that its leaves are as tall as she is

Gyan Maharajan and her huge cauliflower harvest in Nepal, @British Red Cross/Paul Wu

Getting ready to harvest your autumn fruit and vegetables?

Many of us are now busy in our garden or allotment. Others are taking the easier route and enjoying some fresh produce from the supermarket or grocer.

Either way, we can all take a moment to appreciate Gyan Maharjan’s bumper cauliflower crop.

At 3.5 kilos, one of her huge cauliflowers is around four times bigger than the average UK supermarket cauliflower!

Hoping for a harvest festival prize

Despite its massive size, 51-year-old Gyan carries her cauliflower in a basket on her back like a backpack.

She is on her way to Bungamati town for a giant vegetable competition. It’s an uncomfortable walk with the heavy weight on her back and Saturday is Nepal’s only weekend day.

Even so, the town’s central square is crowded, and large pumpkins, radishes and spinach take pride of place.

Gyan is amazed by how big her giant cauliflower has grown. Like all the others here, she’s hoping for a prize.

But just being able to grow her own crop again is a gift in itself.

Gyan was one of over a million people whose houses were destroyed in Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake.

Like thousands of other small farmers, Gyan lost her livelihood as well, making getting back to normal after the earthquake even harder.

Cash grants made the difference

After the earthquake, the generosity of the UK public toward the people of Nepal was inspiring.

Donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) earthquake appeal reached £87 million. The DEC then shared the funds among organisations working in the country, including the British Red Cross.

This plus the equally generous donations to the Red Cross’ own appeal supported us to give over 8,000 people cash grants of around £140. Families used the money to buy seeds, tools and other things they needed to start farming again.

Gyan was one: “Before I received the grant I didn’t have enough food to feed my children,” she says.

“I used the money I was given to buy seeds and fertilizer, which is expensive but stops insects from eating the vegetables.”

The Red Cross also trained Gyan and over 6,000 others in gardening skills to help them grow better crops.

“I have grown cauliflower, coriander, garlic and different types of spinach,” Gyan says.

This all led to Gyan’s huge cauliflower. “I’m surprised at how big my cauliflower has grown.”

“I brought my cauliflower here today because I wanted to show other people that it’s possible to grow something extraordinary.”

Helping her family win every day

It turns out that some of the other farmers’ vegetables were even more impressive than Gyan’s and she didn’t win this time.

But her successful vegetable crops are making a big difference.

Gyan’s husband doesn’t earn much from his job as a mechanic and his wages just about cover their grandchildren’s school fees. So the money Gyan earns from farming helps a lot with the family’s day-to-day expenses.

“I will try to sell the cauliflower,” she adds. “But if no one wants to buy it I’ll take it back home.”

But after all this, Gyan doesn’t plan to eat the giant vegetable herself.

“I have to eat cauliflower every day!” she laughs. “So I don’t like it anymore.”