For Ayyan, 10, the backyard in his villa is his playground, its green harvest his greatest thrill. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: As the first hint of a winter chill gently caresses the air, 10-year-old Ayyan Ali Ayyubi climbs up the stepladder placed in his garden in Dubai to harvest the first batch of zucchinis and bottle gourds. A few months ago, he had actually started with seeds, germinating them in peat moss, growing saplings and then replanting them in his backyard.

The enthusiastic fifth grader from Gems Modern Academy, Ayyubi has had a green thumb since the age of six and is passionate about organic farming. While other boys his age love engaging in electronic games, mall visits and other outings, Ayyubi is completely given to muddying his hands, dabbling in seeding, snipping saplings and reaping a rich harvest of fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Ayyan Ali Ayyubi displaying his fresh harvest42-1636866377482
Ayyan says his knowledge in biology and botany has greatly enhanced because of his first-hand experience with growing plants. Image Credit: Gulf News

Flourishing plants

The satisfaction he derives from his passion is immense. He told Gulf News: “I was inspired by my father Mohammad Ali Ayyubi, who used to grow plants in the balcony of our apartment. There was not an inch of space left with all the plants. When we moved to our villa, a few years ago, and we changed the soil of our garden, that was when I truly devoted myself to organic farming. It is so fascinating to nurture tiny seeds and see them grow into full-fledged fruit-bearing trees in no time. I am very conscious of nutrition.”

His knowledge in biology and botany has greatly enhanced because of his first-hand experience. He recently delivered a talk on plant pollination in his school to explain to teachers and students the detailed pollination process.

A ‘green’ family

The Ayyubi family — parents Mohammad Ali and Fawzia Khaleel, along with daughter Ayra and son Ayaan — are all involved in gardening. However, it is young Ayyan who has adopted organic farming practises like a pro.

Ayyan with a day's crop in his garden. Image Credit: Gulf News

Father, Mohammad Ali said: “I had done some farming in Bihar, my home state, as a youngster. I involved Ayyan in our balcony garden earlier, when he was barely six. He showed a natural affinity to farming. Therefore, when we moved into a villa, we made an effort to start a modest organic farming project. Ayyan is involved in the process from the age of six. Every year, from the time we begin planting the seeds in the potting soil, my son first watches us and then takes over. We use coco peat for germination. Ayyan is very consistent and regular in planting, watering and watching over the seedlings. Once they grow into saplings, he transfers them to the beds. He has grown radish, tomatoes, gourds, cabbages, strawberries and many other plants and herbs. He feels very excited and engaged and I think it has been a great learning experience for him.”

An undying love for farming

Ayyan told Gulf News he would never give up his love for organic farming, even when he would grow up and become a professional in some other field. “I divide my time well — between studies, gardening, football and coding. I would never like to give up this small-scale farming that I do, as it is so deeply satisfying to watch a tiny green thing grow from a little seed to a flourishing plant bearing fruit. The taste of the vegetables and fruit we harvest at home is incredible, as we use no pesticides. I am learning so much each day in my backyard and I am fascinated,” concluded the young boy.