NGO ropes in SHGs to transform concrete terraces into green spaces in Chennai

CRC, a unit of Care Earth Trust, has launched “Grow Your Own Edible Garden” campaign as part of the Chennai Urban Farming Initiative

January 28, 2023 08:24 pm | Updated January 30, 2023 07:47 pm IST - CHENNAI

A model garden raised on the terrace of an apartment at Adyar under the ‘Grow Your Own Edible Garden’ initiative of the Chennai  Resilience Centre.

A model garden raised on the terrace of an apartment at Adyar under the ‘Grow Your Own Edible Garden’ initiative of the Chennai Resilience Centre. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Space constraint will no longer be a deterrent for aspiring gardeners in the city.

The Chennai Resilience Centre (CRC), a unit of Care Earth Trust, is helping residents’ welfare associations set up rooftop edible urban gardens and create livelihood opportunities for women’s self-help groups.

A non-governmental organisation, the CRC has launched a campaign “Grow Your Own Edible Garden” as part of the Chennai Urban Farming Initiative to transform concrete spaces in residential neighbourhoods to into green areas.

It has roped in five residents’ welfare associations in Kasturba Nagar, Valmiki Nagar, Radhakrishnan Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and AGS Colony near Velachery, to promote urban kitchen gardens. 

“We found in a study that temperature levels drop by up to seven degrees Celsius in houses with terrace garden. We aim to reduce urban heat island effect and create self-reliant communities by improving food security,” said Krishna Mohan, chief resilience officer, CRC, which is supported by Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre.

Model farm

A model farm has been created in each locality to encourage residents raise vegetable gardens. The CRC has facilitated about 200 kitchen gardens in various anganwadis and the produce were used to cook midday meal, he said.

The CRC had joined with government agencies such as the Tamil Nadu Corporation for the Development of Women, the Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Greater Chennai Corporation for the initiative. Although government departments had introduced the concept, a key factor in the campaign was support for maintenance through women SHGs, said the residents. 

Investing on garden infrastructure and daily maintenance had been obstacles in the way of raising an urban garden. The campaign evoked good response, said Jayanthi Premchandar of Valmiki Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association. 

Janani Venkitesh, secretary, Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association (ROKA), said CRC’s technical support and opportunity to support SHGs had aroused interest in people.

ROKA, along with CRC, plans to raise an urban garden in Government Hobart Higher Secondary School next month. 

The CRC has trained about 100 women SHG members in sustaining edible gardens and will provide garden kits and give guidance through a WhatsApp group (phone: 9176588007).

Ramya Annadurai, an SHG member, said: “I earn up to ₹3,000 a month now by maintaining gardens in anganwadis and GCC schools. I create awareness about growing edible gardens among students.” 

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