A hobby which can beat price rise

Dr B N Vishwanath,  Former professor,  Department of Entomology, UAS

For over a decade, Ansar Pasha, an engineer with a private firm and a resident of Nandidurga Road in the City has been a keen terrace gardener. His terrace was full of ornamental plants till recently. But for the past four months, he has started cultivating vegetables in pots.

Greens, tomatoes and minor vegetables (varieties of bean creepers) are high on his priority list. With the vegetable prices hitting the roof, hundreds of people like Pasha are now looking for terrace garden vegetables and fruits, ushering in a new trend.

Terrace garden in the city has a history of at least 15 years. Dr B N Vishwanath, former Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture Sciences, had pioneered the trend by offering a crash course on terrace cultivation.

“It was initially the housewives who were drawn to the course. Retired persons began flocking to it in early 2000. The IT boom since 2007 led many youngsters also to take up terrace gardening,” says Dr Vishwanath, who has now formed an organisation called Bangalore Terrace Gardeners (BTG).

More into it

According to Dr Vishwanath, every month at least 30 people get training in terrace gardening. But more people have been evincing interest in recent days, especially in growing vegetables and fruits on terrace. However, not many agree the ballooning prices have triggered the shift.

“For me, I feel it is just not the price hike. It is also the question of health. Vegetables in markets are badly stocked. There is contamination of every sort. Coriander for instance is not safe to use, given the way it is grown and transported. But it’s not the same with home-grown vegetables,” says B C Sai Kiran, a marketing communication manager with a private firm. He has grown tomatoes, curry leaves, spinach, methi, mint, double beans, turnips and carrot on his terrace.

According to several terrace gardeners, vegetables grown on their terraces cover at least one portion of meals for ten days a month. It is ideally sufficient for a family of two or three, Kiran said.

Dr Vishwanth feels that growing food on the terrace means a lot to an individual involved in the gardening process.

“It is sowing your own food. It may be little in quantity, but it gives a sense of ‘I grew it’, and the things you grow are under your control. You are aware of the hygiene, quality and sense of satisfaction,” he explains.

Carbon credit

Moreover, the plants cool the terrace and and tending the garden is a good physical exercise. One can even get carbon credit for reducing the carbon footprint through terrace gardening, he adds.

Terrace gardening, Kiran believes, is inevitable. The rapid felling of trees and depleting greenery has little to do with the democratic process or people’s choice, and is more concerned with unenlightened governance. 

“Terrace gardening offers Bangaloreans a pro-active, positive way to rebuild what is being lost. Even though one day, farming systems on the periphery will eventually be overtaken by the urban sprawl, they could also be incorporated into the urban landscape in the process and re-contextualise the concept of green cover.”

BTG also offers online solutions to the problems people face in terrace gardening.
At least 46 varieties of vegetables can be grown on the terrace. The range includes pumpkins, gourds, spinach, squash, beans, peas, drumsticks, brinjal, ladies finger, and capsicum.

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