Have you recently got a chance to catch an aerial view of Bengaluru just before you land? Well, if yes then you are sure to have noticed that it has become a concrete jungle with a bare minimum of green patches. Sandeep Anirudhan, an activist believes, “Food and nutrition gardens can help revive the character and energy of a city. Community farms can empower, inspire and connect citizens.” We understand further about his solution.
Speaking about his brain child – a community farm in Whitefield, he says, “These gardens function as spaces of citizenship, sustainability, education, creativity, awareness, and connected-ness. They uplift communities, offer spaces for volunteering, and care for the environment. Most of all, the gardens would help us reconnect with nature in an intimate way!”
Sharing a bit about what inspired him to come out with such an exceptional idea he says, “I realised that there is absolutely no knowledge of how food is grown and understanding of soil is totally blank in today’s generation. As humans, we have lost the connect with nature and the source of our food. Hence, industries dump all kinds of spurious produce and products on an ignorant population.”
He further adds, “To remove this ignorance, the best way I could think of is a community farm where residents of community could spend time together growing plants and trees, understand soil and ecosystem, and as a bonus, bond with neighbours and get some exercise and sun, all things that we modern humans are deprived of in today’s world! It was inspired by an urge to connect humans to their food!”
Throwing some light on how they go about with their method of farming Sandeep says, “We adopt the natural method of ‘Zero input’ farming. We revive the soil, by covering it with natural mulch. This is how nature works. Leaves and branches fall on the soil and provides a home for microbes, which is nutritious for plants. This brings earthworms to loosen up the soil and bring up minerals and the soil stays moist. Everything we plant here thrives, and grows beyond what we expect. We grow multiple crops mixed together to ape nature, so there is biodiversity that balances the ecosystem, making them resilient.”
He adds, “Our plants grow even better than if they were provided with artificial inputs. Most of our crops have been yielding harvests within weeks of planting. Even we are surprised!”
Speaking about how we can still indulge in gardening in our tiny balconies, Sandeep says, “We have been applying the same methods and techniques in our balcony gardens too. My mother uses kitchen waste directly as mulch in her pots, and it works great. The plants have never been healthier, and they require much less watering. The soil also doesn’t need to be turned or changed, as they naturally get regenerated. Nature is magic! We have ignored it for long!”