How urban farming is gaining importance during COVID-19
It was in March 2020, when prime minister Narendra Modi announced a complete nation-wide lockdown following the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, many people remain stuck at their homes, even when the economy has started reopening. In a city like Mumbai, where a sizeable population stays in apartments, residents have little option to look for recreational activities. Housing societies and projects, which have enough space to offer greenery and urban gardens, were the big winners. One of such housing society is Godrej Trees in Vikhroli.
In an interview with PropGuide, Anubhav Gupta, business head, Vikhroli, head of CSR and sustainability, founder – GPL Design Studio, Godrej Properties, talks more about the concept of urban farming and how his project promotes it. Edited excerpts:
What is the concept of urban farming and how does it help city-dwellers?
Urban farming offers a multitude of community benefits such as access to healthy food all year round, learning about growing and harvesting produce and the opportunity for community engagement to bring together different age groups in celebrating the gifts of nature. People are getting increasingly conscious about where their food comes from, how it is grown organically, how responsibly it is sourced and transported.
Gardening and growing one’s own food, which enthusiasts find relaxing and therapeutic, is often seen as a luxury as it requires space that is often a constraint in dense city environments. While farm-to-table concepts are being explored the world over, such formats are now gaining ground within residential developments in cities.
Has the concept of urban farming gained more prominence due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
With the pandemic restricting residents to the sanctuary of their homes, the idea of turning to productive landscapes through an urban farm within the development is even more relevant, as it can be enjoyed with social distancing norms to fulfil needs that would otherwise require travel/delivery for food needs.
How is the Godrej Group bringing the concept of urban farming?
Godrej’s Vikhroli project has a productive green oasis for people who just moved prior to the lockdown. We have planned an extensively inner tree-lined courtyard, where the newly-formed community can spend quality time amidst native and adapted tree species, with a mix of shaded fruit and flower-bearing trees. These include the pride of India, rain trees, palms, altamas, flame, trumet, guava, chikoo and jamun trees, among others.
So, who is responsible for maintaining the harvest of urban farming?
The courtyard, with integrated play spaces, also houses the residential community’s thriving urban farm. For this community farm, a dedicated and skilled in-house horticultural team tends to 20 different varieties of vegetables and herbs in wooden troughs. The troughs create a venue for parents and children to connect with nature. The harvested produce is distributed by the facility management team to the residents every other week. While the initiative started out to encourage residents to adapt to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, this little farm was greatly appreciated by residents for fresh produce of basil, brinjal, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chillies, mint, oregano, radish, tomato and tulsi, especially during the lockdown down months.