Earlier, people with farmhouses grew pumpkins in their backyards; however, with changing times and the urban space crunch, homes have become smaller and the pumpkins only come out at Halloween. For the farming enthusiast, a new way out has emerged where people can grow fresh produce even in their city homes!
Anil Ranglani is someone who has championed the cause of ‘terrace farming’, making sure you have a variety of garden fresh produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Together with Bharat Nimbalkar and Mala Chaterjee, Anil runs a company called Mumbai Goes Green, providing hands on training to city dwellers, teaching them to farm on their balconies and terraces. Apart from growing the obvious vegetables, they also teach people how to grow medicinal plants (leaving out the cannabis variety of course!), helping them create a ‘home-remedy’ garden with secret recipes found only in grandma’s diary.
It was during his tryst with waste management solutions that the idea of organic farming dawned upon Anil. “People were keen to know the best way to utilize kitchen waste and organic farming was not only a ready alternative but also the best thing to do. It gave people access to high quality nutritious vegetables free from any chemical fertilizer or pesticides,” he says.
Considering the minimum space requirement for a vegetable garden is only 20 square feet, it is easy for city dwellers to become part time farmers if they reside in a terrace flat, or to create a community garden in the building. Though this process is more suitable to growing vegetables than fruit, it gives you an option of more than 45 different varieties to choose from – spinach, methi, radish, potato, tomato, cherry tomato, garlic, onion, cucumber, gawar, chauli, chilly and capsicum being but a few of the delicious choices depending on the season.
“In the big metros where integrated townships have sprung up everywhere, terrace farms and community gardens create a sense of camaraderie and the running of a neighborhood mini-mart is a super way to bring the community together,” says Anil.
Farming also calls for protecting your crops, and when it comes to terrace farming the rules are no different. The metro skyline is full of scavengers like birds and insects and household pets can also pose a problem. To safeguard your patch Anil and his team suggest a shade net and organic pest-control like neem and garlic. As for your pet dog or cat, it’s best to have supervised visitation rights!
Terrace farming though not completely unheard of, must be improvised and made practical for city people – and that is exactly what Mumbai Goes Green has managed to do. Anil has a long list of impressive clients, corporate houses and ‘green’ citizens authenticating the urban farming movement.
With an initial investment of twenty five thousand, Mumbai Goes Green will hold your hand through the entire process, right from soil and veggie choices to crop protection, also offering products aimed at both the new cultivator and the proficient master of the terrace farm.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
Photographs By Snigdha Hodarkar