Urban Leaves India: 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

Learn to Grow and Eat

Hello everyone. 
Winter seems to be setting in. The leaves are turning yellow and drying and falling...

... these dried leaves are a valuable resource and need not be burnt... infact  they can be decomposed to make soil.... this soil we call "Amrit Mitti".
Urban Leaves is pleased to share this knowledge of converting waste to soil by conducting a series of workshops for those interested in growing edible stuff like herbs, tomatoes, chilies, lemon grass etc. on your window sill or balcony or terrace. Come join us to learn sessions on Urban Farming .... 

Session II - Sunday - 25th November, 2012 - Start Your Kitchen Garden

- Kitchen Compost Demonstration

- Sowing Seeds in Container (all material will be provided)

- Transplanting Saplings

- Importance of Crop Cycles & Sowing Calendar

 Session III - Sunday - 9th December, 2012 - Maintain Kitchen Garden
- Mulching
- Pruning of Vegetable plants
- Soil Care and Maintenance 
- Bio-pesticides Formulations and Applications
- Making of Amit Jal (take home a bottle for your plants)

Session IV - Sunday - 2th December, 2012 - Making of Amrit Mitti

- Understand the importance of Nutritionally Rich Soil

- Amrit Jal Demonstration

- Hands on activity of making Amrit Mitti
Venue: Maharashtra Nature Park, Mahim

Time: 8:00 am to 12:30 pm
Fees: Rs. 750/- per person per session
Max. Intake: 40 persons per session
Book you seat Register and select prefered session and mode of payment.
For queries write to urbanleaves@gmail.com

Mode of Payment:

Cheque in favor of Vidya Vaaridhi Trust  and courier to :
Mr. Uday Acharya
Vidya Vaaridhi Trust
A-101 Mani Bhavan, 11th Road, Chembur
Mumbai 400071. 

ECS Transfer
Account Name - Vidya Vaaridhi Trust

Account No. - 52009032981

PAN Number of Trust - AAATV2294B
Bank - State Bank of Hyderabad
Type of Bank A/c - Savings
Address of Bank - 1st Road, Near M-Ward Office, Chembur Mumbai 400071
IFSC Code of Bank - SBHY0020408

(please send us an e-mail with your name, transaction details and for which workshop the payment has been made)

Warm Regards
Urban Leaves

Thursday, 6 September 2012

How Safe Is Our Food?

Part 1: Introduction - Read Full Article
Part 2: Pesticides - Some Definitions - Read Full Article
Part 3 : Pesticides in Indian Agriculture and Food - Read Full Article

Part 4 : Some Common Pesticides Used In Our Favourite Vegetables

In this last and final part of our series on Pesticides, let us put ourselves to a simple test. And not to worry - you will be answerable to none other than your own conscience.

Below are a few images of the vegetables as you would encounter in the market. What would you choose? Take your pick – and choose wisely.


For it is our choice unfortunately that has been skewed by the Green revolution – the phase when food grown using chemical inputs was shown to us to be bigger and therefore better, healthier. 

Are we still following the same criteria for judgment when we go out to shop for our fruits and vegetables? Do we still think that the bigger the better; the more uniform the better;

Do we still equate wittedness’ to staleness?
As a personal experience, we have found that organically grown vegetable shows signs of limping & wilt sooner than those grown with chemical additives. The logic probably is similar to having fresh fruit juice after a few hours which develops an off taste as compared to fruit squashes to which chemical preservatives have been added.
And while we still come to terms with our habituated choices, let us also dabble a bit into statistics. 
Most people often get carried away with statistics and cite statistical examples as evidence for their beliefs.
But statistics can be as misleading as percentages.

For instance – as per statisticians, the average depth of River Narmada is 13 feet. So is it safe to believe that nobody can ever ‘sink’ in the Narmada – even at the mouth…..
Similarly, if the govt. claims that the pesticide residues tested on each vegetable are well within permissible limits, does this mean that it will not affect any of us in any which way? And individually if each vegetable has a certain pesticide ‘well within permissible limits’ – so to say; what happens when we have a complete meal comprising of certain salads, a variety of vegetables and cereals and pulses, each being individually sprayed with certain pesticides?
10 items each having a residue of 0.01% - which is the prescribed norm – cumulatively add up to approximately 0.1% per meal. And for two meals + breakfast + snacks will mean we are consuming nearly 0.2% of toxins per day as against the stipulated 0.01% per day. 
And understanding this in perspective of the previous articles where we learnt of Bio- accumulation and Bio-magnification, what ghastly possibilities conjure up?

All this with an assumption that what the manufacturing companies are writing and the govt. testing agencies are saying is the whole truth.


Read further for some horrifying facts…

Thursday, 30 August 2012

World Kitchen Garden Day Celebration - 26th August 2012

The rain god spared us and a large number of people participated in the World Kitchen Garden Day organized jointly by the Team of Urban Leaves & RUR (R you Recycling) in the verdant surroundings of Maharashtra Nature Park.

Over 200 participants came from all over Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & the extended suburbs to know more about Kitchen Gardening, Safe Food and Recycling.
A few participants had also taken part in the cooking contest where the recipes had to adhere to the theme of the event, ‘Reviving the lost traditions of Shraavan’. 
Ms. Preeti Patil explained the idea behind the theme. In India, across most regions and communities, a lot of importance is attached to the Hindu month of Shraavan.  It is during this period that the bounty of monsoon makes a variety of leafy green vegetables available for consumption. Many of these vegetables often are not commercially grown and are found growing wild. They are full of vital nutrients and free from pesticides.The focus on shravan greens during the event was an opportunity to understand these veggies, introduce them to the younger urban generation and learn to grow them in our city farms. 

Display of "Variety of Shravan Vegetables". Do you recognise any? Check them out HERE!!

Our First Speaker - Shri Rajendra Bhat,
an Organic farmer gave information on uncultivated varieties of Shravan vegetables and special tips on "How to Grow". Vegetables like Shevla, Takla, Bharangi, Shevga, Phodshi are not names that we urbanites are familiar with. Lets get aquintated with names co-inciding with pictures of these vegetables. 

Second Speaker of the day - Tejal Vishveshwar from "India for Safe Food",

spoke about the pesticide residues found in our foods, their toxic effects and how as citizens of India we have a right to organic and safe food.

Third Speaker - Monisha Narke from RUR, introduced the concept of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling of things that we use in our daily routine to minimize our ecological footprint. Monisha was quick in requesting a volunteer to carry all the paper cups used during the breakfast to be used for composting at home. Jyoti Despande volunteered! Three cheers for Jyoti!!
Earthaholics collated a DIY kit on growing vegetables in container. Urban Leaves team presented a demo on "How to Transplant and Sow Seeds in Container".  This kit was on sale for the interested participants to immediately start with Chilly sapling.
Judging the Contestents creation was done by Chef Nilesh Limaye and Nutritionist Shilpa Joshi. They also interacted with each of the participant giving them valuable feedback.

They commended all the participants for their enthusiasm. Each of the participants introduced themselves and gave the audience some information on their recipes.

The judges announced the results.
First winner, Mrs Surekha Patkar prepared 'Shevla Masoor Masala'

This vegetable grows on uncultivated lands and is available for only a couple of days in the beginning of rainy season. Usually prepared with Prawns, Mrs. Patkar had used Lentils (whole Masoor) in lieu as the rules for the competition required the recipe to be purely Vegetarian.

Second winner, Mrs. Prema Hattangadi prepared 'Takla Chi Tamli'

modified a regular GSB recipe 'Tamli' to include another wild 'Shraavan' vegetable called 'Taklaa'. Thus 'Takla chi Tamli' was an innovation to integrate this wild vgetable into a traditional recipe.

Third winner,  Mrs. Jaya Vora prepared 'Zumkha Na Chilla'
This vegetable again is availabe from the wild and is available only in the rainy season corresponding to the month of 'Shraavan'. Again, this was an innovative blend of regular recipe of Chikpea flour (Besan) pancakes (Chilla) by integrating the Zumkha into it.

These prizes were sponsored by Home Collective India Pvt. Ltd., Girgaum - a store dealing with high quality Kitchen Accessories and other Home Products  & Nirmitee Art store, Dadar - a store dealing in Handicrafts.
Thereafter, chef Nilesh Limaye and Shilpa Joshi demonstrated a few simple salad recipes.

The session was closed by honouring the judges and speakers with potted landscapes that were generously donated by Vriksha Nursery, Irla.

The audience was overjoyed to learn about so many connecting facets to an Organic and healthy lifestyle.

They had an opportunity to buy garden related goodies,

- grow your own vegetable kits provided by Earthaholics
- plants saplings from Amrute Nursery, Dapoli
- shopping bags and eco friendly jewellery from RUR
- books on organic farming from the Urban Leaves

A delicious, healthy, sumptuous, vegan, gluten and oil free  Lunch served by THAC
(The Health Awareness Centre)

Appreciated by all participants.
Special thanks to Dr Vijaya Venkat and Anju for their continuous support in our ventures. 

To view all pictures of the event: click here

A special touch to the event : Participants appreciated a personal message from Roger Doiron founder of Kitchen Gardeners International www.kgi.org to fellow gardeners in Mumbai on World Kitchen Garden Day.

Take a look at how our friends in other cities celebrated World Kitchen Garden Day

Bangalore: Oota from their Thota 

Chennai : organised by Sangeeta Shriram and her team at restore . Their photos of the event can be viewed here

Bhubaneshwar: organised by Mr Maheswar Khillar: Read full article here from the Odisha Diary

Australia (Tasmania):
Kate ( our board member at KGI ) Read her Blog Vegetable Vagabond 
Kenya : View pictures here
Scarborough USA : with Roger Doiron Founder KGI

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Come Join Us for KGI Day 2012

Are you a food maniac or have a flair and keen interest in cooking?
A person concerned about Nutrition or just keen to grow & consume your own vegetables?
Come join us to celebrate the
World Kitchen Gardeners’ International Day
on Sunday, 26th August, 2012 – 8:30 am onwards
at Maharashtra Nature Park, Opposite Dharavi Bust Depot, Bandra Sion Link Road

Introduction to The Traditional Vegetables  of ‘Shraavan’and "Bhadrapad"


Kitchen Gardeners' Day has been initiated by Kitchen Gardener's International (http://kgi.org/about-KGI) - a movement to promote urban residents to grow some of their own food. Urban Leaves has  been a part of these celebrations since last year and is also coordinating with other Urban Gardeners across different cities in India.

The month of 'Shraavan and Bhadrapad ' comes towards the end of monsoon when Nature abounds in luxuriant green growth. Traditionally, this is the time when a variety of vegetables are consumed in abundance to rejuvenate one’s health and in tandem with the growing cycles. In India, we have a rich culinary tradition and heritage exclusively pertaining to the foods consumed in the month of ‘Shraavan’. Yet, in the fast paced urban lifestyle, we have become disjointed & disconnected to this tradition and heritage.

By doing so, we wish to revive this connection between traditions, seasonal foods, human health and nature among the urban population who have lost or are losing the real connection with seasonal and local food.  We hope to inspire people not only to grow local but eat seasonal as well.

Events in Brief

§      Our chief event for the day will be a cooking competition related to the Preparation of a traditional Shravan Vegetable. This will be judged by a well known chef and a Nutrition expert. Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 recipes.

§      Besides this, we will also be taking the participants for a tour of our Community Food Garden which Urban Leaves has been maintaining at Maharashtra Nature Park.

§      A small talk by a team from IFSF http://indiaforsafefood.in will make us aware on how toxic is the food that we purchase from the market.

§      As an option for safe food, we will also give a demonstration on how to grow a herb on your own window sill. A starter kit alongwith a sapling supplied by RUR will be available for sale at the venue.

§      An introduction to the concept of Recycling and its close association with our tradition will be given by the team of RUR – R U Reducing, Reusing, Recycling? http://www.facebook.com/RUR.AreYouReducingReusingRecycling

§    On KGI Day Panasonic Experience Center, Mumbai has come together with Urban Leaves and RUR to have a campaign to collect E Waste which Panasonic Experience Center will ensure is recycled safely and effectively.     www.facebook.com/Panasonicexperiencecenter

§     The event will culminate with a small talk by the judges on our traditions based on Nutritional values and seasonality followed by a demonstration of one recipe.
§      A refreshing Herbal tea & snack at the beginning and a sumptuous, healthy, vegan, gluten free & low fat lunch to end the session is organized from the Kitchen of THAC

KGI Participants
For Contest Participants
Fees Rs. 100/- (inclusive of snack & Lunch)
Fees Nil – only KGI participation Fee of Rs. 100/-
Last Date - 22nd Aug 2012
Last date - 18th August 2012
Participation Form
Sorry, we've exceeded our capacity and cannot take more registrations.
For queries: Write to urbanleaves@gmail.com

To view schedule: KGI 2012 Schedule

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lush greenery at Garden by the Bay

The monsoons may have been weak this year. But not the enthusiasm or the efforts of our Volunteers.

This is the season of the gourds - all of them being climbers. Managing these on trellises is the greatest challenge.

The growth is at its zenith.

It is a delight to see the flower blossoms.......

...eventually materialising into fruits and vegetables

The culmination of every visit is of course the harvest tray.

Purvita's older posts, Garden by the Bay, Winter Harvest