Urban Leaves India: A City Farm That Everybody Enjoys

Friday 26 November 2010

A City Farm That Everybody Enjoys

Little Mavis loved trees, especially a Drumstick tree in her yard. She would always hug it and shake it just after rains. The droplets of water stored in leaves would feel like new refreshing rain. One day after rain, she went to the tree and shook it. To her surprise the whole tree got uprooted! Close inspection revealed that a Bandicoot had made a whole near the tree's roots which made it weak. She was very upset and decided never to shake a tree again. But, a scolding from mom couldn't keep her away from trees. She tried to grow back the tree that had fallen because of her shaking.

Now Mavis D'souza has a child of her own and grey hair. She lives in Borivali, Gorai in an area which has many small buildings with lots of terraces. Her terrace stands out. It is filled with a variety of flowering and fruiting plants. She started her garden about five years ago. Curry leaves, Lemon and Watermelons were her first try. The Watermelons were very tiny so she started searching for ways to grow bigger watermelons on internet. She contacted experts like Dr. Vishwanathan from Bangalore and then Deepakbhai. Both of them told her about Preeti. She found the Urban Leaves blog on internet and started communicating with Preeti.

She slowly started to make her own Amrut Mitti. A few mistakes and obstacles didn't stop her. Soon her garden came to life, plants started to grow, birds started to visit. She was advised to put a net to stop the birds from eating the fruits. But, she never had the heart to do so.

She loves flowers and now has different coloured Hibscus plants, Jamaikan Spike, Roses, China rose, Marigold, Xenia and Shevanti. She has fruiting trees such as Jackfruit, Banana, Fig, Lemon and Strawberry. I had fun tasting the herbs like Peppermint plant (tastes of extra strong mint) and Stevia which is very very sweet. The garden also produces Capsicum, Peppers, Tendli, Pumpkin, Ridge gourd, Bitter gourd, Broccoli, Cucumber, Turmeric, Basella and Rajma beans. I need not tell you that she has a couple of nice Drumstick trees too.

She has great plans to design her garden further by changing some parts of her terrace. Every day in between work shifts she inspects her garden for about two hours. Many birds visit her terrace and she enjoys observing them. Butterflies visit to taste the nectar and stored bagasse. Occasionally her pet cat Kalu also likes to roam around the garden.

She believes that just telling others about city farming is not enough. People have to taste, smell and touch the produce. Organic and home grown food tastes very different from what we get from market. This difference is what attracts people to know about it more. She distributed her harvest of watermelons to family and office friends. They were amazed! She also gave some veggies to her doctor and he asked her next time about it because he found them delicious.

I also returned home with some nice shiny Eggplants for Undhiyu and some Duckweed for my aquarium. We loved them!