Society

The vertical shift

At an event organised by the All India Kitchen Garden Association. Photo: V. Sudershan   | Photo Credit: V_Sudershan

Scarcity of food grains in the ’60s which led the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to raise the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” influenced people like Sarla Bhargava. An environmentalist, activist involved with women’s social education centres and Central Welfare board, she went on to form All India Kitchen Garden Association in the Capital to use every inch of land available in and around the house. “The association continues to encourage people to do. With the shortage of space, we are advising people to use their staircase, verandah and there are so many people who are doing vertical gardens,” says Sunita Gupta, head of the Meerut chapter of the association.

Till 2005, it was only a motley group of retired people who would come to Dr. Vishwanath Kadur’s beginner gardening workshops in Bengaluru. And just as the urban gardener began losing hope, he witnessed a surge of interest in young working couples — IT professionals, teachers, doctors — in kitchen gardens. Today his group Garden City Farmers Trust and Organic Terrace Gardening FB group boasts more than 28,000 followers from across the country. “People are growing 15 different crops. They are experimenting with exotic crops, greens, bush vegetables, tree vegetables. Every two months if you plant, say, five tomatoes or chillies, it will last you for an entire year. It is called staggered planting,” says Kadur, who has taught at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru.

A propagator of ‘eat what you grow, grow what you eat’, Kadur says, Oota from your thota. “Farmers are migrating to cities so where is our food going to come from. If we become dependent on imported food, then we are going to be slaves of these corporates,” remarks the agriculturist. Urban farmers like him are alarmed at developments like 1.5 million hectare of agricultural land converted into industrial land in the last five years in India. But where is the land? “Yes, with real estate prices going up, there is a scarcity of land. Once upon a time, most urban homeshad one front garden and one kitchen garden but it’s not like that anymore. But you can grow everything on your terraces which is what people are doing. Buying vegetables from outside is expensive and also unhealthy. The only way to eat healthy vegetables is to grow your own organic vegetables organically. That’s how we can stop entering these harmful chemicals entering our systems and save our future generation.”

Today, training is the thrust of All India Kitchen Garden Association headquartered in Delhi’s posh Gulmohar Park. “We have training sessions for not just homemakers but also professional gardeners. Maal You can grow anything in your terracotta pots on your terrace gardens provided you know the technique. Right now I am growing herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, lemon, custard apples and star fruit on my terrace. There are members of the association, who grow turmeric, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, miniature mango, cherry tomatoes. Summer is not an exciting time for vegetables but winter is just amazing and we are all gearing up for that,” says Bela Gupta, Secretary of the All India Kitchen Garden Association, Delhi.

In the monthly workshops held by Garden City Farmers Trust too, participants are taught what to grow, how to make your own soil and other growing media. Every three months, the group also conducts a one-day event for honouring people doing commendable work in the field, spreading awareness amongst children about plants and trees and their benefits.


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Printable version | Oct 8, 2021 7:12:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/the-vertical-shift/article7641730.ece

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