I started the activity of city farming on the terrace of our Central Kitchen with the intention of recycling the kilos of garbage generated thereat daily. What ultimately motivated our team at Mumbai Port Trust and sustained the activity over a period of 5 years is the exposure to nature.The activity was initially started under the guidance of Dr. R. T. Doshi and it flourished with the teachings of Shri Deepak Suchde.
It was hands on education where we experienced and learnt about the beauty of life and life forces of nature.Its beauty and power overwhelmed us.When I say power I mean the strength of sustenance.A barren piece of cemented jumgle can get transformed into green farm bringing back the lost bio diversity in the area. We have witnessed a large number of birds butterfliesvisiting our terrace.Tailorbirds regularly sew a nest on leaves of plants.Watching the young ones hatch and prepare for life is an overwhelming experience.
Farming and spirituality cannot be seperated as both are interconnected and rekated to life and growth.Recycling taught me that only growth is not sustainable. In fact , uncontrolled growth can sometimes become carcinogenic.Growth has to be balanced by decay.Being a student of Vedanta, understanding the universal and relative self was a challenge. Understand the cycle of growth and decay helped me understand the mind's limitations, its place and value in our lives and give compassion to myself. Nature gives us space and unconditional acceptance, may be this in turn helps us to give it to ourselves. Our learning continues.....
The book by Shri S.A.Dabholkar " Plenty for all " describes how nature gives us in abundance. All we need to do is learn to harvest this gift gracefully without being greedy and snatching from nature.We have forgotten how to receive.... and to give back truely..... We have all seen that when we plant a seed, nature gives us a whole tree.We can never give back the way nature gives us but we can at least learn to respect and take care of our earth.City farming taught me the importance of interdependance.The activity of soil building showed me the fine connection and balance between the different elements in the universe.
On practicing city farming for 4-5 years I came across the work of Dr. Vijaya Venkat and her Health Awareness Center which teaches the concept of nutrition by understanding the bio dynamic cycles of the body.In spite of all the scientific advances made by man there still remain mysteries, which are as yet unexplained.So many elements are still waiting to be discovered. At the health awareness center, I learnt the importance of eating raw natural foods. A proper combination of eating fruits,vegetables,sprouts and nuts gives you all the required nutrition.That which is known and unknown.In fact this teaching connected so well to my recipe of soil building whereby all plant parts are recycled to build the most nourishing soil.Rather than focusing only on known elements.... N P K etc... we were working towards building a wholesome structure of soil . Just by putting all available elements in nature together we were ensuring sure supply of known as well as unknown nutrients in the soil.A plant attacked by pests lacks the nutrients due to poor soil, and is therefore vulnerable to attack.Similarly eating the right kind of foods and a healthy lifestyle enabled one to live a life free from medicines.
What motivates me to spread awareness and share the technique with as many people as I can is the sheer joy of watching another green farm, and a smile on the faces of the farmers involved.This sharing of joy is infectious.For me, personally, city farming also means bonding with like minded people.I have made a lot of good friends and learnt a lot through them during our association on projects etc... They are a very important part of my life now.
In the year 2005 we conducted a project on " Development of city farm at Rosary High School" with street children. The report of this project is detailed at http://www.cityfarmer.org/
The period during the work on the project was very rewarding for me in terms of the time I enjoyed with my team members and the children during the initial interaction with them.Their smiles and enthusiasm made me feel useful and very good about myself.
I learnt that as individuals we could only support and encourage others in their ventures by our unconditional accepatance of them as people and of their efforts.We cannot control, change their course of lives or their destinies. The unconditional acceptance on our part empowers them to take charge of their lives resulting in a raised self image , which is the sinequanon of a stable society.
Nature with its inherant flaws and perfections teaches you to accept things as they are without discrimination.It urges you to do your best and helps you in finding your life's true mission bringing you close to your ideals.It teaches you that one must act with humility when one is strong and powerful.When one has weaknesses and one works towards bettering oneself nature rewards you in one way or the other.In this search of " self " and our 'perception of our world' there are infinite treasures that we discover along the way.And however tedious and circuitous be this search one must bear in mind that the goal is always achievable and that if necessary efforts have been put in, despite all adversities, miracles do happen and you meet with success.
towards a greener and more serene environment