Amazing citizens make Bangalore go green – over the top
Imagine this. You are about to land at Bangalore and peep down out of the window to see the landscape. What do you do next? Day dream, probably. But not Dr Vishwanath Kadur, the person behind making Organic Terrace Gardening (OTG) big in Bangalore. He says, “When I saw the vast amount of unused space on terraces and balconies, I thought why not convert them into green spaces. With soaring temperature in this city, and diminishing green space, I thought the move would be a tiny step in battling climate change and also promote healthy living all at the same time.”
Bangalore is growing big on OTG
That thought has become a big movement today. There are nearly 8,000 people (even children) in the city who have enthusiastically converted mini spaces in their houses and apartments into organic gardens.
A transformation for Dr Vishwanath Kadur
Interestingly, Dr Vishwanath Kadur, the founder of Bangalore Organic Terrace Gardening, and President of Garden City Farmers, was an entomologist. He says, “As part of my work, I used to work on the deadliest fertilizers and used to advocate their usage. A documentary project on agriculture was my first introduction to the benefits of organic farming.”
Challenges in the initial years
After resigning from University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, he began focusing on organic terrace gardening. In the initial days, the challenges were many. Gardening was not attractive any more. The significance of organic farming was yet to sink in. Most people were hesitant about using the terraces for gardening fearing that it would affect the sturdiness of the building, leading to water leakage and related problems. So when he began interacting with architects and civil engineers, they explained that terraces can comfortably manage with 35- 40 ton of distributed weight and that terrace gardening would not lead to damage. So Dr Vishwanath began trying to mobilize people and slowly he gained the confidence of a few people, who began taking active interest in it.
As the media began focusing on the harmful effects of consuming pesticide-laden food, the interest in organic urban farming began to steadily grow. Vishwanath and his dedicated team saw that there was a need to bring together people so that they could share their experiences, create greater awareness and also make it easier for everybody to get into organic farming. That’s how the ‘Oota from your Thota’, a day-long event focused on urban organic terrace gardening took shape. Organised a couple of times a year, the event acts as a platform to sell organic vegetables, seeds, saplings, and other necessary organic gardening materials, all at once place. The event draws bigger crowd each passing year. Since 2011, 12 such events have been conducted in various part of the city. Additionally, numerous workshops on OTG and composting are conducted at regular intervals.
Stories of the Green Warriors
The IT citizens of Bangalore, have been some of the most enthusiastic group of people who have taken to OTG in a big way. Vijay Satish is one among them. Even though his interest in gardening can be traced to his childhood, but terrace gardening was something his family had never explored. He says, “During my childhood, our garden had only ornamental plants. But when we had to construct a new house, our garden could no longer be accommodated. That’s when I began to use the terrace for growing plants, mostly vegetables and fruits.” The 2000 sq ft of terrace is crowned with ordinary as well as exotic plants. He says, “From Beefsteak tomatoes (a variety popular in the US) to zucchini to varieties of chillies such as Bhut Jolokia, I have it all.” Vijay Satish has been participating the famous Lalbagh Botanical Garden flower show, where he showcases his vegetable plants and has won it four times, consecutively.
Vani Murthy, a home maker and a waste management facilitator, has three terraces dedicated to organic farming. Going by her facebook posts, you will wonder if she even buys groceries. Name a vegetable and she has it. From exotic varieties of corn to leafy vegetables which are very specific to India, she harvests them all. Talking about how she began to take active interest in OTG, Vani Murthy says, “I had been actively involved in waste management and often mobilized the community to manage wet wastes. That’s when I was called to facilitate a workshop on composting for the OTG members.” She adds, “After I finished session, I saw people exchanging seeds and I had nothing to offer. Today, gardening has become my yoga.”
Half an hour or an hour every day to spare, a few pots and lots of love to nurture them is all that you need to be begin a garden in your home, limited space is the least of the concern. What’s more, you learn to minimize waste through composting wet waste, your balcony or terrace looks awesome and you get to taste some tasty, fresh and pesticide-free vegetables.
That’s what this enthusiastic group have shown the city. Kudos to the green warriors of Bengaluru. OMG is passé, OTG is in!
* In case you want to get in touch with Dr Vishwanath or learn more about OTG, you could visit their facebook page – Oota from your thota.
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