Saturday 18 May 2024

Bloom amidst the concrete jungle

Ugly grey buildings engulf open spaces and land that once nourished green fields is covered in carpets of concrete. Enter the concept of urban farming.

Joyce Dias / The Goan | JANUARY 12, 2013, 06:22 AM IST

Think city and the image that the mind conjures up is ofcorporates, skyscrapers, apartment clusters, congestion of vehicles, pollutionfrom vehicle exhausts and narrow alleyways where the sun doesn’t reach. Theconcept of farming in such a scenario seems like a paradox. “Urban society is aparasitic entity. It imports even the most vital material,” says VishramGaonkar of the horticulture department of at the ICAR Research Complex in OldGoa.

However, with the introduction of agricultural methods thatcan be practiced even when there are constraints on space, the concept of urbanfarming – growing vegetables and fruits in pots, polythene bags or on theterrace – seems very much within reach. Take Raj Pai Panandikar who lives on theMonte in Margao. He had a lawn growing on the floor of his terrace. “Last yearwe noticed that we were using a lot of water for the lawn. We decided it wouldbe a good idea to convert this area into a patch where we could have our ownorganic vegetables,” he said. And that was how half the lawn was removed and 6beds of 6mx0.5m were created. “Last year we grew around 10 different types ofcrops and when the seasons change we rotate the crop,” says his mother Kundawho tends to the plants with a lot of tender loving care. Among the vegetablesthat were grown last year, okra, radish and red amaranth were aplenty, thusrendering it unnecessary for the family to purchase more from the market. “RedAmaranth needs the least amount of maintenance,” says his mother. In anotherpatch that the bedroom opens into, Panandikar has grown bottle gourd.

“For each and every crop, air water and light is necessary.Suppose you have a balcony and there is partial shade, you can go for cropswhich are shade loving,” advises Dr Rajnarayan of ICAR.

This year Panandikar decided to experiment with exoticvegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, green peas etc. To make the terraceready for farming, Panadikar took measures such as using water proofingmaterial, a root barrier and geo textile on the roof before making itcultivable. A systematic drainage system provides a path for the rain water.

“Besides eating a healthy meal, seeing your vegetables andfruits grow is a pleasurable activity,” Kunda Panandikar concludes withcontent.

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