Grow your own grub

Grow your own grub
As the City is swept into the weft of urbanisation and its colourful contours turn into the corners of a concrete jungle, one can confidently say that the green patches of land are slowly succumbing to death. However, enough lung space is found at backyards of many homes, thanks to the active citizens’ movement in urban farming — a method of growing one’s own grub.

Driven by the principle of ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’, City dwellers have cultivated a passion for urban farming and are converting their small plots of land into self-sustained urban farms. Green patches lurk out from terraces and vegetables hang from boxes in balconies. Depleting green covers in a concrete jungle, health hazards from chemicalised agriculture, lack of space to maintain a garden and sky-rocketing food prices in the market have driven them to choose urban crop cultivation and terrace farming.

Vinay, a compulsive urban farmer who has grown up with a garden and eating out of it as a child, says that as he grew up, it took him a while to understand that most people buy vegetables from the market. He is an active participant at the urban farming event, ‘Oota From Your Thota’.

“Houses don’t have gardens now since they require a lot of space. But people have begun to understand the importance of growing their own food. They grow vegetables, as opposed to ornamental plants, in this limited space. This may include a small patch of land in a terrace or balcony.” He explains that any simple crop, with the help of basic techniques of gardening, can be grown, though one has to spend time choosing the crops wisely. He adds, “I grow greens on my terrace, which is 12 ft by 15 ft. I can confidently say that I am 40 per cent self-sufficient.”

And there are many like him. He says that more than 15,000 families are into growing organic vegetables like tomatoes and brinjals, and multiple terrace gardening organisations install gardens for various families and organisations. One such organisation is ‘Squarefoot Farmers’ spearheaded by Arun. With their base in Banashankari, they have customers across Malleswaram, Jayanagar and JP Nagar. “There is nothing like a minimum amount of space required to grow a crop. In one square foot, one can grow nine spinach plants or 15 radish plants. The space has to be planned well. Families also re-use a lot of material found at home such as coirs, pinewood and plastic boards for planters. Awareness has increased so people have now stopped growing ornamental plants and are growing vegetables instead.” Since the concept of urban farming only requires a one-time investment, an amount ranging from Rs 180 to Rs 700, people aren’t hesitant to come forward and practise it.

Pradeep, a businessman and urban farmer who started the Facebook group ‘Urban Farmers of Bangalore’, says that urban farming can easily be cultivated through meticulous planning. “Most urban farmers diversify their crops and grow more than four organic vegetables in a limited space, the simpler ones being tomatoes, brinjals, chillies and spinach,” he says. Pradeep himself grows tomatoes, brinjal, lady’s finger and bitter gourd. He adds, “There may be failure of crops because of seasonal changes since we don’t cover our terraces. We can’t help that. But I have seen my neighbours taking to urban farming and asking me about this method after looking at my terrace garden. This is a good trend.”

And just like any other hobby, the entire process requires dedication as Vinay says that urban farming is a continuous process. “One should at least invest 10 to 15 minutes a day into this. This will ensure that we have a healthy future,” he says.  

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