Eat what you grow and grow what you eat’ is the motto of the Bengaluru-based Garden City Farmers Trust. Since its inception in 2011, the trust has been motivating citizens to convert all available space in their homes to green, edible patches.
Promoting terrace gardening in urban spaces, the trust—managed by a group of 11 people—has more than 23,000 followers with 10,000 from Bengaluru alone. They have 8,000 practicing farmers in the city who are new to the concept. They encourage city dwellers to grow as much vegetables they require on a daily basis, like chillies, tomatoes, coriander, brinjal, peas, curry leaves, spinach, etc to reduce dependence on pesticide-ridden vegetables and to contribute to the development of a healthy ecosystem.
An ambitious plan is on the cards: the trust is trying to raise funds to distribute creeper plants in the city’s slums, which are deprived of clean food and air.
The trust was founded by B N Viswanath Kadur, 72, entomologist and former associate professor at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru. It has held 12 workshops, educating people and bringing awareness on the need for terrace farming in stark urban spaces. In the mid-90s when Kadur was returning to Bengaluru from Delhi, he noticed shimmering terraces from the window of the aircraft. This inspired him to espouse terrace farming to cool the city and to revive the traditional kitchen gardening heritage.
Kadur says, “Once in three-four months we hold a workshop in a Santhe (rural market) and display seeds, saplings, organic manure, gardening tools and demonstrate how to compost, prepare the soil, pest control, sowing techniques, etc. We even do free demos in government schools.”
The trust comprises three entomologists, while rest of the group are IT professionals. The trustees have terrace gardens where they grow organic vegetables. They also have a Facebook page called Organic Terrace Gardening group.
“Engineers, IT people and even builders have adopted this concept and are training others. Start growing what you like and plan it in such a way that you get the produce throughout the year. Go for staggered planting. Creepers are very easy to grow on walls and except for peas, all vegetable can be grown in Bengaluru because of ideal soil and climatic conditions,” says Kadur, who quit his job at the agricultural varsity in 1983 to take the organic route.
He has just finished a training session for teachers and parents at B M English School on the outskirts of the city. “Our youngsters have not seen the adverse impact on agriculture, so we have to tackle this problem by educating children and parents. Only if parents understand, they will encourage their children and inculcate this concept at the right age,” he says.