Owning the veggies

While most are shrinking from buying vegetables of choice, two ideas may just help keep them on the dinner table

Published: 21st August 2013 09:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2013 09:51 AM   |  A+A-


Eat Your Street is another 'revolution' which is transforming neglected public spaces to thriving, edible gardens. An initiative started by Rajani Mani, a filmmaker and writer, now an urban gardener too, the intention is to come up with gardens which works as a cohesive community dedicated to sharing the responsibility of the future of the planet, taking one shabby space at a time.

Joined by Lavanya Keshavamurthy, a former software professional and Dhanya Nishant, a former school teacher, the trio are trying their bit to transform Whitefield, to begin with.

"I watched a show on the Incredible Edible Todmorden project, which is an urban gardening project started in 2008 by a group of like minded people in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, England. It completely transformed my thought process. It struck me that here is a bunch of people who are not lamenting about a situation but have taken it upon themselves to be the change they wish to see," says Rajani.

She took the thought forward and met Nitya Ramakrishnan, one of the founders of a citizen led movement in Bangalore East called Whitefield Rising.

"Nitya was very excited as we were at a crucial point of time - concerned citizens were already tying up with BBMP, clearing up garbage and educating housing complexes on the importance of segregation and composting at source. We could then plant local herbs, vegetables and flowers in these areas. By planting in the negative spots, we create something of value and pride in our public spaces," she says.

They are working closely with government schools - educating them about urban agriculture through interactive media and setting up school gardens.

Their first school was Ramagondanahalli Government School in Whitefield.

"People have been very encouraging and enthusiastic about this initiative and we’ve had someone sponsoring our vegetable patch at the Ramagondanahalli school. Recently someone mailed us couple of packets of seeds. So help comes in all forms," says Rajani.

In order to raise funds for their work, they are also looking at corporate sponsors who might want to set up therapeutic edible gardens within their work spaces for their employees or even apartment blocks looking at community gardens.

According to Rajani, urban gardening in public spaces has not been really explored before in the country.

"So we do not really have a strategy at the moment. I cannot give you a blueprint and say look this is how it’s going to work. We are learning on the job," says Rajani.

As an example, Rajani talks about their first patch. "Everyone was worried about vandalism. Also, it wasn’t possible for us to keep walking down everyday to water the patch. So we installed self irrigating system using earthen pots and put a chicken mesh around it. It’s been a month now and nothing has been stolen or vandalised," she says.

As for selection of plants on the streets, they look at plants that remediate the area - like mustard, beans, etc.

"We are also planting marigold, corn and hardy local herbs. This is just the start. We need people to come forward and adopt these little patches on the street and work with us cyclically," she says.

India Matters


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