Urban Leaves India: January 2010

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Workshop on " Creating your own Natueco City Farm"

Dear Friends

Want to reduce global warming and climate change?

Want to be healthy?

Want to build relationships between neighbours?

Want to do something creative?

Want to bypass rising vegetable prices?

Want to learn a new skill?


You are what you eat. Come learn how we at Urban Leaves nourish our bodies and souls through the practice of city farming. Natueco Farming and building Amrut Mitti gives us a holistic perspective about how the food we eat is related to all these issues. We hope the workshop will give you both the motivation to start growing your own food and the tools and the network to help you do so.

URBAN LEAVES (an Initiative of Vidya Varidhi Trust) is hosting a workshop on “How to initiate your own Natueco City Farm" on Sunday 7th Feb, at Maharashtra Nature Park from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. The session will be conducted by Preeti Patil who manages one of the most successful city farms in Mumbai. Preeti has been in charge of this award winning terrace farm since its inception 8 years ago and today with full grown trees, herbs, vegetables and a variety of fruit trees, it stands testimony to the fact that urban farms are very doable.


9.00 – 9.45 - Registration & light breakfast

9.45- 10.30 Introduction & a short film

10.45 - 11.45 - Demonstration & talk on Amrit Mitti

11.45 – 12.45 - Hands-on group activity – preparing Amrit Mitti

12.45 - 1.30 - Lunch

1.30 – 2.00 Demonstration on how to use Amrit Mitti and plant a sapling

Info on companion planting and bio diversity

2.00 - 2.30 How to maintain your farm

2.30 - 3.15 Q&A and feedback

Fee for the workshop is Rs.400/- per head -inclusive of resource materials, breakfast & lunch.

All are requested to carry their own drinking water to avoid plastic and buying water. Please register your name at the earliest. Please pay fees in cash or cheque. Cash may be directly paid to Jyoti at Chembur or Devi at Lower parel

Cheques favoring ‘Vidya Vaaridhi Trust’ may be couriered to Uday Acharya at Vidya Varidhi Trust, A-101 Mani Bhavan, 11th Road, Chembur Mumbai 400071

We have kept the workshop fees as low as possible. Further subsidization is available to those who need it and anyone who can contribute more is invited to support others' participation or future work. Please contact Uday Acharya for further assistance.

Warm Regards

Urban Leaves

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Join the nationwide fast on Jan 30 2010 - Say Yes to Brinjal No to Bt

Dear Sir,

We have been watching with concern the urgency with which the government is trying to push the GM foods agenda on the ignorant Indian populace.

I believe that there is no alternative to changing the government’s position other than to fast and refusing to consume GM products. Eminent scientists and health workers have questioned the safety of these products.

The desirability of these products have also been questioned by economists and social activists, as these are designed to help the multinational company to patent its products while eliminating all competition from traditional products.

The experience of farmers in Mexico(corn) and India(cotton) with multinational food companies is a warning that needs to be heeded. If farmers lose their land and their seeds to multinationals, we can wish goodbye to our precious freedom that the country earned over 60 years ago.

We invoke the spirit of Gandhi and satyagraha to make the government listen to our concerns and show that it stands committed to justice, independence, and social responsibility.

I request you, Honorable Minister, and all other self-respecting citizens to join us on this day of fasting and prayer, and help us to bring about true independence and prosperity for the country and her people.

Thank you,

with warm regards,

Uday Acharya

Managing Trustee

Vidya Vaaridhi Trust


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A tiny balcony at Phoenix Towers

Hi all,

Preeti has been prodding me for this note for along while so here goes my update about my gardening adventure, this from a person who has never grown a plant successfully before this.....

I have three initiatives going on
1. home composting
2. a few pots with some veggies and herbs
3. very lame efforts at making amrit mitti in a basket

Our 3 proud home composting pots sit on the bedroom balcony with Ramesh complaining that many a  day they get more attention that he does :) and that he has to see them first thing every morning instead of some pretty sight , however when the compost becomes soil , I feel they look pretty so do the pigeons who seems to spend as much time digging around the pots as I do ...
Now I have  a new addition , a tall stately brown one , which I bought from Anil last week, which is filling up quickly with some help from our high veggie /fruit diet ....this one sits pretty in our sons balcony without his even realizing that it is compost :)  or currently just waste ...

I just have three large drinking water pots with holes at the bottom and lids ....I do the composting based on  advise by Monisha and now some instincts , the composting began in July end and i have been regularly harvesting soil. i fact all my veggie pots have red soil combined with my own compost ..and some Amrit Mitti from Preeti..

I tried two baskets of Amrit mitti and it shrunk to one basket and it has not been a  success with the mitti drying up and the leaves not composting as well as they do on the terrace and other containers ...and I have also been lax about sprinkling with amrit jal.....plan to try again , next time in Anil's amrit mitti container.....looking forward to that...

I began the pot garden sometime in July/August and have planted a tulsi ( flourishing) , a peppermint plant ( has been temperamental and moody and is now reduced to a stem with 6 leaves and undecided ) , a lemon grass plant  ( flourishing and has now 2-3 new plants which have come up alongside and we have stopped buying lemon grass now ! hurray ).

However I realized that pigeons and vegetable plants don't go together since they began actively digging into my pots and uprooting some of the plants and sitting on the others and smothering them! I lost some methi harvest, a full grown Chowli plant to the birds and decided enough was enough and took up Preeti's offer of a net for the balcony and since that came up I have had more success.....

The permanent plants have for companions my seasonals , starting with methi and mustard which I plant in small containers and regularly harvest  a handful each.. Every harvest reminds me how much a farmer has to work to give me a bunch of Methi and how little he gets from that meagre 6-8 rupees I pay .....

I have 5 chowli plants and between them now they give me a few Chowlis ( long green beans ) every week , not enough  to make a stand alone sabji but I proudly add them steamed to my salad or to my sabji ...I have a pumpkin plant which has started flowering, have had only male flowers til now and a couple of cucumber plants , all these grew out of my compost seeds so dont know the seed quality ...there is  tomato plant again from the compost, and now new tomato seedlings  coming up from seeds from sahaja samruddha ......

Preeti gave me a lettuce sapling 2 weeks back and finally 2 days back I had three things to harvest !!! a handful of mustard, a lettuce head and about 10 Chowlis.....I know it is so little , but so is the balcony ....

However the biggest learning is that everyone of us should try grow something for our food , it will tell us how much effort it takes to grow food and how grateful we should be to people who ensure that our tables are loaded with plenty every meal......anyway sharing my bounty in pictures with you all.......and am looking forward to more harvest in the coming weeks....

The harvest, the sabji into which the mustard went in and the salad with the steamed chowli  and the lettuce leaves garnishing and my tiiiny garden ! ENJOY!!!

Warm Regards


A small farm at a balcony in Dockyard

For eight years I grew up with natueco knowledge and experience of growing food on a terrace.
 Pl see http://natuecocityfarming.blogspot.com/2009/02/farm-on-terrace.html  for the details of  my background. However it was only when i came into contact with Monisha and started conducting workshops at MNP telling people they could do it at home that I started working on my small balcony at Dockyard road.

Monisha taught us to compost kitchen waste. I combined a bit of my natueco GYAN and devised a method for myself. My kitchen waste first goes into my basket, ( Aerated ) not covered, in my balcony, which gets good sunlight.After it dries, it goes in my earthen pot. A layer of red earth or Amrut mitti from the terrace is sprinkled every three- four days in it. I turn the material in the pot every Sunday. Sprinkle Amrut Jal in it if I feel it has gone dry. Not otherwise.

I have harvested some lovely compost from it once , in which I have planted tomatoes which are now flowering. In fact there are five tomatoes.... and I love to see their growth day by day!

Had planted some lettuce, spinach, chillies, lemon grass, kohlrabi and cauliflower  in Amrut Mitti.

have documented the progress in photographs..

I harvest about a sprigful of spinach per week from a single tub. Today I used it in my favourite raw spinach salad. it was crispy and sweet! : )

Will keep up with the updates. Do post in your experiences too.

Preeti Patil


After a wait of three months at last I harvested my tomatoes and Kohlrabi today.

They were so beautiful and delicious. Worth all the waiting!

Love Preeti