Urban Leaves India: Garden by the Bay - Purvita's terrace garden

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Garden by the Bay - Purvita's terrace garden

Walking along beach road at Chowpatty, I looked out for Bachelor’s Ice Cream Parlour, which I hadn’t been to in a long while. Locating the building I was supposed to go to, I looked up and tried to spot the house, seeing if I could get a glimpse of the terrace garden. Nothing much was visible from where I stood, and I decided to enter the building instead of standing on the road staring. Who knows, I may have been mistaken for someone staking out the place!!! Little did I know that the house itself was on the terrace of the building, and I had to climb five floors to get there! It had been a long time since I had climbed five sets of stairs, but as I huffed and puffed my way up, I couldn’t help admiring the old wooden staircase and the beautiful entrances that adorned the houses. I was welcomed by Purvita with a big smile, and we at once hit it off, even though this was the first time we had met!
Purvita has been volunteering with the Urban Leaves team for more than a year now. She not only has a beautiful terrace garden but also is leading the Community Food garden at Nana Nani Park.
I was eager to see her garden, and as she took me through her beautiful house, I wondered if I should ask her permission, to shoot her house instead, and write a post on it! However, I decided to respect her privacy, and settle with her wonderful terrace garden, which is what I had come to see in the first place!!
Purvita’s talent for aesthetics is apparent even in her terrace garden. The creepers have crept over her walls, and while that by itself can be a beautiful sight, she has managed to add another dimension simply by enhancing the spaces between the creepers with the dry seeds from her collection!

Her terrace is covered with pots and plants…..

There are plants in plastic containers and wicker basket....
There are creepers supported by wire meshes. It is a kitchen garden, growing vegetables and herbs to be used in the kitchen…

You will find Mint, varieties of Basil and Tulsi galore…
There are Aavla and Curry Leaves (kadipatta)
There is ladyfinger standing up straight, almost ready to 
be picked and green chilies, which we harvested.

An insulin plant, one leaf to be eaten everyday by 
diabetic individuals, which I had never heard of, before!

Amidst all this greenery, there was a riot of colour… The blue and white of the shanka pushpi plant (butterfly pea).. The beautiful yellow flowers of the ladyfinger...This beautiful white flower of the guava…  

There is a guava tree with a guava on the way… and a chickoo tree, Purvita prays for fruit next year!

There were also some other interesting things, which reminded me of Samhith, whom I had left behind… Some friendly, some not so friendly….like this caterpillar… the bee….and the lizard… the bug!  
Purvita also showed us some dried basil flowers, which had to be sieved through thoroughly to get the seeds…. And when we saw the size of the seeds, we were amazed at her patience that made her sit down and separate all that dried matter to get the seeds, which were practically invisible at first!!!
Purvita’s garden is like an oasis in the middle of this bustling city, and it was a wonderful experience to sit and listen to her talk about how she took a sabbatical from work, got interested in terrace farming, and didn’t go back to her job even after two years! Her dedication to the garden is not just amazing, it is also infective. You can’t just listen to her without catching some of her enthusiasm! She is all agog with her plans, helping out enthusiastically at the Nana Nani Park (which I couldn’t visit due to lack of time!), and trying to get more people to actually use their terraces for city farming. She has already made quite a few converts to the cause of healthy growing and eating, and also conducts workshops to help people get started with the concepts.
Meeting Purvita and seeing her terrace kitchen garden was an unforgettable experience, and I am looking forward to taking Samhith there someday!

Anuradha Shankar
Urban Leaves Volunteer