“The idea for the Urban Farming came from my experience in working with hand embroidery craftspeople in Lucknow. While traveling to the villages where our work was being done I noticed that each household we visited had many children – all of whom looked malnourished. Most homes had open areas which were mud patches (i.e. plants could be grown). So we did a round of planting saplings of fruits and vegetables that can be used by the household. Idea being that what they save on food could go into health care and education.
After that I was keen to do the same in Mumbai. Visited a municipal school to initiate the same concept. Was told that approval is needed. Visited few BMC offices to get the approvals. It was quite difficult to get the idea across. Eventually it was too time consuming. So I had to give up that idea.
Then I came across St.Catherines Home – a wonderful orphanage with amazing caregivers who nurture children. As a home that nurtures children they have a whole range of expenses-food, education, medical care, infrastructure etc. They have a very nice campus with space that can be cultivated for urban farming. My idea was that if they can grow food on the premises they would be able to get fresh produce and save that much money in having to buy vegetables at retail prices.
Thereafter I looked around for a partner for this project and met with Sprouts who was doing a variety of environment related work. They enthusiastically agreed to participate. We visited the campus several times to survey the potential spots. After joint discussions with the team at St.Catherines we identified a space near Prem Dan (which is managed by Sister Shanti).
The place was somewhat rocky and filled with stones. The first work was to prepare the soil. After that was completed the saplings were planted – tomatoes, brinjal, lady finger, sweet potato, mint, coriander, chillies, spinach etc. The children very delighted. They joined in merrily in each stage. Thereafter they nurtured the plants. In the summer when there was a water shortage in that space – they even saved water from their water bottles to be able to water their new friends – the plants.
If this idea can be adopted by orphanages, societies, office campuses – we can have
- A substantial amount of fresh food
- Savings of money, fuel (otherwise needed for transporting food from the farm to the plate).
- We would have zero food miles for at least some of our consumption.
(In under privileged communities this will translate into more money being available for education and health care)
- Saves plastic bags used (by most people) in buying food from the market.
Equally importantly it helps to build a deep connection with nature. This was evidenced in the feedback from Sister Shanti on the joy this brought to the children.”
Founder at Clean Planet and Swachh Citizen