When Mandy shifted base to Mumbai from the US three years ago, she had little knowledge of urban farming. The Mumbai weather often played truant with her farming experiments. She kept growing patches of spinach, red amaranth, tomatoes, Italian basil, cabbage and capsicum despite the poor output, until she cracked the code about growing veggies in an urban habitat.
Mandy’s failed experiments made her realise the lack of information on urban farming in the city and encouraged her to started her blog, Mumbai Farmer. Today, the website shares detailed knowledge about organic farming in Mumbai, and is an online market place for urban farming kits and potting mixes. Mandy recalls, “I had the time and the motivation. It helped that I always loved dirt!”
Mandy will be holding a workshop to give Mumbaikars a hands-on experience on organic farming. For adults, the session will elaborate on how to grow vegetables and herbs in limited spaces. Participants will also get tutorials on sowing seeds, plant cutting and making mixes of different types of soil to suit particular plants; these are called potting mixes.
“The primary objective of the workshop,” she says, “is to create awareness among people about the chemically mass produced food and the alternate farming options available.”
Shedding more light about the sessions, she says that she has separate plans for the children and adults. “Children below 15 years of age will be acquainted with the positive aspects of organic farming and how it helps the environment. For the adults, however, the sessions will be more practical. They will learn to grow vegetables and herbs and will also learn to identify different types of soils and seeds,” she adds.
“It is important to understand that area-specific factors are imperative in farming because growing conditions differ from place to place,” she points out. At the workshop she will also take the participants through lessons on types of soil, humidity, weather, nature of the plants to grow — all with Mumbai as the backdrop for the experiments.
Along with practical lessons, Mandy wants to work towards sowing seeds towards a greener mindset. “I want people to get rid of the myth that dirt is filthy. If we don’t connect with our earth, we will never be able to save her. It is fun to get your hands dirty. With these workshops, I hope to debunk this mental block.”
The workshop starts from May 7, For registration, visit: http://www.mumbaifarmer.com/
Other initiatives that encourage urban, organic farming Urban Leaves is a collective by Mumbai based gardeners and farming enthusiasts. Their work is directed towards creating urban farms and experimenting with different ways of growing. Visit: http://www.urbanleaves.org/
City Farming is an organization that inspires students, families, and corporations to grow their own food in Mumbai—on terraces, balconies, and even the sides of buildings. Visit: http://www.cityfarming.in/
‘Earthoholics’ is a group that hosts urban farming shows, nature bazaars, and workshops on composting and hydroponics. Visit: http://www.earthoholics.com/ Or call: 9833251324
Mumbai Goes Green is the meeting place of Mumbai’s green movement. It sells the products of green entrepreneurs, specifically leaf composters and “square foot gardens” start-up kits. Visit: http://www.mumbaigoesgreen.com/ Or call: 9930224454