Urban Farming: Bursts Of Green On A Backdrop Of Gray


Tomato in Saee's Window

Tomato in Saee's WindowLife can seem all gray when you look out of a peep-hole sized window of your match-box apartment, which is surrounded by a forest of concrete. Sadly, ‘Nature’ feels like something exotic; like something one must travel several miles away to experience. As we (allegedly) progress, one will probably have to travel further and further away to experience this phenomenon we call Nature. That’s one pessimistic way of looking at urban development.

For those with a more optimistic outlook, our expanse of gray can very well be dressed up with bursts of green. While some Mumbaikars grumble, other industrious folk are engaged in bringing the forest and the farm to the city. How, you ask ? Here’s a look.

Carrot tops in Saee's Window SillCulinary enthusiast and food blogger extraordinaire, Saee Koranne has maintained a little garden in her window as long as she can remember. It’s something she learnt from her parents. About three years ago, she decided to move to growing plants that were more than just ornamental. She grows mint, tomato, chillies, carrots and brinjal! “Am looking to expand this monsoon to more herbs like rosemary and basil” she says. Just like it would on a farm, much depends on the weather. Clearly, nature really isn’t miles away.

Nikhil Merchant, Photo By Nikita Modi
Nikhil Merchant, Photo By Nikita Modi

Those blessed by the property gods with a little more space can perhaps graduate to larger plants. Nikhil Merchant, food consultant and “experimental cook, has a 6000sq foot garden in Andheri East where he has grown Banana, Papaya and Coconut. Nikhil experiments with more exotic herbs as well. In his verandah he grows Thyme, Flat Leaf Parsley and Purple basil, all of which he uses on a regular basis in his kitchen.

Those who grow their own herbs and vegetables, will vouch for the fact that produce grown in one’s own garden is always superior in quality. Not just because it is grown with love, but also because plants are free of pesticides and aren’t force-ripened. Saee explains that a small kitchen garden doesn’t fulfill all her needs. She supplements market bought veggies with her own “I am happy to use what I grow because it is of better quality and it generally makes me immeasurably happy!” The process is most definitely rewarding.

Urban Leaves Volunteers at Nana Nani Park, ChowpattyUrban Leaves

Urban Leaves is an organization that has adopted several spaces in the city and made them productive. One of their most successful projects is a community farm at Nana Nani park at Chowpatty. Over the last two years, volunteers have been devoting their time to composting, digging, planting, watering and harvesting several food crops in this space. Their thriving farm now yields produce like Turmeric, Purple Yam, Carrots Lettuce and many more !

Suran (Yams) grown at Nana Nani ParkUrban Leaves also maintains a farm at Maharashtra Nature Park (Nisarga Udyan) in Sion-Dharavi. The organization conducts workshops where they teach people how to make nutrient rich soil, how to maintain start small urban gardens and how to care for plants. Such community projects bring green minded people together, building a community of urban farmers. Urban Leaves is engaged in creating a map of urban farms. So if you have a farm or garden and would like to connect with others who do, join their network and register your green space now !

As you sow…..

My discussions with Saee showed me something very beautiful and hopeful. She picked up the love for gardening from her parents and how has a little daughter of her own. Observing Saee, Avanee too has developed a fondness for our leafy friends. She watches the little cherry tomatoes growing in the window and waits to eat the fruit as soon as it’s cut. I share Saee’s opinion when she says “It’s a great way to show kids where the food they eat comes from and how much love goes into growing it !” It’s these seeds we plant, that will make sure nature doesn’t go too far away from us.

How many of you have tried growing plants and vegetables indoors? Share your story of urban farming with us at story@mumbaimag.com, we love going green stories! 

Post By Salonee Gadgil (86 Posts)

I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.

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Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.