|My tray of Basil, Methi and Marigold|
The research topic that I chose as part of my study course was ‘Kitchen Gardening and its Sustainable Benefits’. And I must say growing your own veggies and plants is super simple. Just sparing a bit of time everyday, some watering and care and voila, you are on the green side. You can have a balcony, terrace, a small ledge or just a couple of pots and yes that is enough to start off.
I found there are a number of gardeners and urban farmers in Bangalore who love their greens and go to lengths to make sure their eating habits are organic and healthy. Inspiring individuals who take time out of their daily routine, relish food straight from their garden and love the healthy way of life.
One of the first people I met was Dr. Vishwanath Kadur; Bangalore’s foremost organic expert who grows almost all vegetables and plants on his terrace. “There is not one fruit or vegetable that you cannot grow, you can grow everything on your terrace! The health benefits are many, not only is gardening an excellent hobby but an active way of understanding how nature works and responsible for growing our food” he says. A pioneer in his field and founder of Organic Terrace Gardeners in Bangalore. I look forward attending his workshop on organic gardening this month which he conducts on a regular basis.
|Vani Murthy’s compost|
Vani Murthy was next in question, and what a person! She is often called the ‘compost queen’ and said, “I grow what I eat and eat what I grow. Gardening makes me enjoy little things, we formed a team of close friends in the society and do everything together! This is what gardening has done, it also gives me balance of mind”. Going through her different compost methods from ‘bokashi’ to vermi and traditional compost, I can say confidently her plants are happy and healthy!
Nagamani from Malleshwaram gave me some of her bounty; spinach saplings and fresh thyme and I nearly pinched myself with glee!
Harvesting almost a kilo and a half of her veggies daily from tomatoes
to brinjals, fresh herbs and all types of greens. “I love experimenting
with my dals now, their even tastier now” she said happily. What was
impressive was a save of Rs. 40-45 on a daily basis and ensured tasty
food for her family. Her terrace also acts as a natural coolant to the
house. What can I say? Wow.
|Pumpkin at Green Thumbs|
One of the places which blew me away was Green Thumbs Mini Farms an organic farm off Sarjapur road owned by Anand Maddur. I felt like a kid let loose in a candy shop! With all kinds of veggies like pumpkin, lady finger, chillies, brinjal, spinach to fruits like banana and chickoo, I went a bit berserk. A farm with a unique experience which allows people to grow their vegetables the organic way. “This is the best thing to do on weekends after a hectic work week. it allows me to unwind and relax” said the organic techie. What a weekend getaway!
|Me going berserk|
Speaking to another garden enthusiast Aparna George who said, “It is important my kids get the right nutrition, which made me question our eating habits”. With composting and a garden full of yummy varieties of lemon she sports the ‘I care about my city’ sticker from Daily Dump (educational portal on composting)
Some people like Anusuya Sharma who was awarded the Srishti Sanman for organic terrace gardening say, “I don’t garden for the purpose of harvesting any fruit, I do it because I enjoy greenery and have grown up amidst plants so it only comes natural for me to have a garden”. It was 5 degrees cooler and I almost got lost in her terrace which resembled a mini forest. What an feeling, that too in the heart of a city!
Jayram from The Green Path was one of my latest visits and is a busy person with a green business to run, but answered all my questions patiently. A delicious meal of beetroot and ragi roti along with dal and sambhar makes me go back to his green establishment which also grows sugarcane and banana on the terrace. Strange for a non-vegetarian like me to indulge in veggie food, but that is what organic food does to you. I returned home with bagfuls of red, brown rice bought from his store Era Organics.
|Vishwanth’s water plants|
Vishwanth who is nicknamed ‘rainman’ harvests not only rainwater but has a near zero carbon footprint with electricity running on solar, compost toilets in his house and uses plants to filter all greywater. “It is so simple, if we are productive we can create the food cycle in our own houses without any waste leaving our house” He also grew rice on his terrace at one point for 3-4 years and harvested 180 kilograms. A person who simply uses sustainability in the right way – saving everything.
I keep looking for interesting people to meet, understanding traditional practices which we need to bring into cities and tracking food miles, from farm to fork. Urban gardening which is so common in some parts of the world only makes sense in present food inflation and water scarcity times.It is an area which can change our attitude for the better and treat the environment with respect.