If you are looking for glimpses of green in your neighbourhood, look no further than your nearest community farm. While the idea of community farms is new to Indian cities, individuals have been trying to come up with novel ideas to tackle the urban waste issues. And community farmers have found the simplest solutions to waste management issues of a city. Here’s a lowdown on all you need to know about community farming.
Urban Citizens Growing Food Together
A senior citizen with a love for gardening could simply encourage youngsters to help her potter around in the garden, making saplings, sowing seeds, tilling the land, in exchange for not money but great good! That’s how most community farms begin – sharing of resources, labour, knowledge, space and a mutual love for being amidst nature.
Get Involved by Composting at Home
The first step towards being welcomed at a community farm is to go with your first batch of compost. Follow the simple methods of kitchen composting to process the fruit and veggie peels you would normally throw away at home. And once its ready, take your first batch of compost to feed the plants growing at the community farm. You say you don’t have the space to do this? No problem, how about finding out if your neighbourhood community farm can help you process your wet waste into compost?
Community farms are in constant need of volunteers to help out with labour, seeds, saplings, transport and so on. So if you think getting your hands dirty is not for you, then there are so many other tasks that you can help our with. Better yet, if you have the space, you can put the word out and call for volunteers to setup a whole new community farm in your neighbourhood.
Waste to Wealth Ideas
You might have seen your neighbourhood streets littered with dry leaves lately? Wait before your strike that match and make everyone run away from the smoke of the burning leaves. In community farms, these leaves are precious cargo. “We collect leaves in bags and take it to the community farm. There is a method we use to convert these leaves into compost similar to kitchen composting”
So now you see how you can clean up the city along with contributing some special resources to your neighbourhood community farm.
We all know how sacred our cows are in India. We consider her as a ‘mother’ and like a mother she gives us her all. You might have seen how people of all age groups, young and old alike, when they see a cow, they touch her very reverently. We all know how cow dung is an excellent natural fertilizer for our plants. You can use it too! It’s easy, it’s convenient and it’s very beneficial. You can follow the simple steps of making the cow dung manure and then use it in your community farm and in your home as well.
Sugarcane might only be one of the few things which is completely used. Right from crushing it and making a juice to using its bagasse as a farm fertilizer. Did you know that for every 10 tonnes of sugarcane crushed, a sugar factory produces nearly 3 tonnes of wet bagasse? You might not be able to use bagasse directly in the plants. You can add manure and dry leaves and make it a compost.
Bringing Back Barter
You will rarely ever see money doing the rounds at a community farm. Simply because everyone shares everything. If someone has excess of plants, they share those to be planted at the community. If someone has seeds from their travels, they bring those to the farm and make saplings. And on most occasions, after a hard day of farm work, someone will open up a box of fragrant home-made snacks – food and recipes are probably the most you will see exchanged at a community farm!
What’s beautiful about community farms is the camaraderie, the sharing of ideas, knowledge, food, culture and stories – you will never feel alone at a community farm.
You Can Join a Community Farm Now
If you haven’t already rushed to your nearest community farm, we’ve got you sorted. Here’s a list of farms in and around your city. You can head there every week and help our with farm work, make some awesome friends and share the harvest. Don’t forget to make some delish recipes with your harvest and share them with us too.
1) Green Souls, Navi Mumbai
Set up in the Tata hospital campus in Kharghar, Green Souls volunteers’ share their harvest with the children living in the campus. They grow over 50 varieties of seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruits and medicinal plants. It’s great to see the community farm welcoming children, parents, students and working professionals on a weekly basis, You can visit : https://www.greensouls.in/
Best time to volunteer: Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays, between 8:30 am till 11:30 am
2) Urban Leaves, Mumbai
Inspired by the teachings of Prof. S A Dabholkar of starting a ‘Prayog Parivar’, the Urban Leaves started this venture in 2001. ‘Amrit Mitti’ is a special soil made solely out of dry leaves. Their mission is to ‘Experiment and learn different ways of growing’. You can visit: www.urbanleaves.org
Best Time to Volunteer: Sundays 7.45 am – 10.30 am, Wednesdays 4 pm – 6 pm.
3) Brown Leaf, Pune
‘Not a single dry leaf should be burnt in India’ is Brown Leaf’s mission statement. Set in the city of Pune, the volunteers in Brown Leaf utilized around 5000 bags of dry leaves for composting and mulching. They have a ‘Leaf Exchange’ program where people can contact each other if they want or have dry leaves. You can read more about them at: https://brownleaf.org/
4) Solitude Farm, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
Started by Krishna Mckenzie in 1996, they believe that their profits should be nutritional rather than financial. They believe that to bring any meaningful social change they have to bring people together. You can also visit the farm cafe while you’re there. The food there is cooked directly from the vegetables grown on the farm. You can visit : http://aurovillepermaculture.in/
Best time to volunteer: Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 5 pm
5) Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, Hyderabad, Telangana
Located in Hyderabad, Aranya Agricultural Alternatives is an NGO started by Padma Koppula in the year 1999. They have two farms of their own on which community farming is done and a lot of projects under their belt. They welcome volunteers and even students looking for internship ranging for a period of three months and above. You can visit: http://permacultureindia.org/
If you’d like to share your experiences at a community farm, share your story here or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org