Kanchhi Laamichhane holds a bowl of corn kernals in front of her home

Who doesn’t like the idea of growing fresh and nourishing vegetables, then cooking a delicious dinner?

But this takes on a new meaning in Nepal, which only last year was struck by two enormous earthquakes.

Thousands of people died and many others lost their food, crops, farm equipment and homes.

Since then, the Red Cross has given 3,000 farming families grants to replace the seeds and tools they need.

Kanchhi Laamichhane, above, was one.

“I was stressed and upset after the earthquake. I couldn’t plant the maize (corn) that I normally would.

“Everywhere was out of control and I don’t think people were mentally ready to plant. I only planted a small percentage of what I had planned.

“I received a grant for tools and seeds. With our neighbours we’ll exchange labour with each other to get things done.”

Now Kanchi is harvesting her new corn crop.

Kanchhi’s favourite vegetable: “Fresh green corn is wonderful as a snack. It can also be fried and eaten like popcorn. I love to barbecue corn.”

Amrit Silwal stands in a field holding a cauliflower plant

Amrit Silwal lost his house in the earthquake. He used the Red Cross grant to buy seeds for new vegetables he hadn’t planted before.

“The seed I got was for things like cucumber, radish, cauliflower and coriander.

“If I didn’t get the cash grant I would have just sown wheat. It doesn’t require much care but is less valuable than the range of vegetables I now have.”

Amrit’s favourite vegetable: “Cauliflower adds variety to the mix of vegetables I grow. I love it. It tastes good.”

Bhunti Ramtyal stands in a field of garlic plants holding one of them in her hands

Bhunti Ramtyal lives with her daughter and two sons. Their house was so badly damaged in the earthquake that it is now one storey instead of two.

“The cash grant was very helpful. I have saved it and will invest in tomatoes and coriander soon.

“I am going to do ‘tunnel farming’ (akin to a greenhouse).

“The price of seeds and fertilizer has gone up. Before the earthquake, seeds cost me 300 Nepalese rupees (£1.99). Now it’s 500 Nepalese rupees (£3.31).

“I am eager to expand what I’m doing and have a large-scale vegetable operation. I’d love to increase my income this way.”

Bhunti’s favourite vegetable: “I love the taste of garlic. It has many purposes. It’s very healthy, easy to store and I use it to add flavour when cooking.”

Rita Laamichhane in front of her house holding a plate of potatoes and speaking on a mobile phone

Rita Laamichhane, a widow, shared her house with her three children and another family but it collapsed in the earthquake.

The house was partially rebuilt and Rita remarried. However, their house is much smaller now so every night after dinner, her son sleeps at a neighbour’s home.

“The earthquake came at the time I needed to harvest potatoes. I couldn’t do it in time. The rain came and I lost about half my crop.

“I had to care for the children, rebuild as best we could. It was a scary time. I used the agricultural cash grant for fertiliser and labour to help with the planting.

“I plan to harvest my potatoes well and then plant maize.”

Rita’s favourite vegetable: “Potato is so versatile. It can be mixed with onion to make pickle, or boiled. I use it to make curry.”

Sitaram Laamichhane sits in a wheat field holding a hoe

Sitaram Laamichhane lost half of his stored rice when his house totally collapsed.

“I had to harvest potatoes at the time of the earthquake.

“I used the grant to buy additional potato seed and rent a tractor and driver to prepare the soil.

“Without the cash grant, I would have had to take a loan from neighbours or somewhere else.

“It would have delayed my planting. It was the right time to get the grant – the crop needed planting.

“Things are gradually getting better. We are still living near our damaged house and we keep our belongings there.

“I am planning to stay a farmer and plant crops.”

Sitaram’s favourite crop: “I like it when the wheat is almost ready for harvest.

“I love walking in the field – it’s so green, the wind blows it in lots of directions and the crop is full of promise.”

Images: IFRC, © Carlo Heathcote
Reporting: Phil Johnstone/IFRC