“When you grow your own food there is a sense of pride and accomplishment felt; it is all about eating, buying and growing local fresh produce,” says Anand Maddur, whose Green Thumbs Mini Farm promotes farm2fork farming.
Anand Maddur, a software engineer by profession, but also a passionate farmer and owner of Green Thumbs Mini Farms believes that gardening is an activity that every family can take up and is a great way to learning to eat healthy. A city person who loves gardening with his family and teaching others, he believes in the “farm2fork” concept which made him start Green Thumbs in Bangalore. After spending the week days at the office he enjoys de-stressing, family bonding, connecting urban folk to the soil and working the farmer’s way for his food.
Originally from Mysore, Anand was based in the US for 12 years before coming to Bangalore in 2008. “My kids loved gardening and growing vegetables in the US over the summers. When we came to Bangalore there was not enough space in the house. One day while dropping my kids off to school on Sarjapur I noticed land not being used and felt this was a good opportunity to start. That is how Green Thumbs was born.”
About Green Thumb Mini Farms
Green Thumbs is a Micro-Eco Farm (MEF) – a sustainable farm which allows individuals to grow produce and have their own vegetable patches like a backyard garden. It gives people the space and opportunity to pursue farming, grow food for their consumption needs and understand the plant life cycle and people’s dependence on farming. Organic manure, seeds, water and security is provided and there are membership packages which interested people can choose from. “Ideally we recommend a 10×10 plot, which covers vegetable consumption for almost a year. This method also allows people to grow their veggies and enjoy doing so which they are unable to do in their own homes”.
“Right now we have 30 people using the land to grow their produce and we encourage them to bring their families along. Digging is something that kids love! Farming is also a great educational tool for them to understand their food better.”
Why it all started
“When I came to India I realised that no one cared about what goes into farming and their food. There is no restriction or proper regulation done when it comes to using chemicals and pesticides, which is alarming. Also the lack of space in many apartments and flats does not allow people to garden as much as they would want.” Keen to start an awareness space for this and seeing how much his kids had achieved through farming, Green Thumb was started.
The benefits of farming for the urban being
Anand feels that farming takes one away from mental stress at work and gives mind a good balance. “Couple of my friends have said it feels like meditation for them! It is a great big stress buster, healthy hobby and a family bonding session. It also gives a sense of accomplishment to yourself and at the end of the day you have greater respect for food something that shopping in a grocery outlet does not give you. There is a deeper connection with food when you grow it and understand importance of fresh food in their diets.”
“You understand how food works when you farm. It not only tastes better but the produce comes in all shapes and sizes. In the market there is the one size fits all theory, but when you farm without chemicals and pesticides life is a lot more natural! It opens your eyes and makes you understand how processed the market system is!”
“We had to deal with issues like constrained space”
“When I was based in the US we had space at the house and grew all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Once I came to India we had to deal with issues like constrained space, insufficient sunlight, etc. Also in places like the US there is a lot of knowledge and awareness about food quality, chemicals and pesticides are strictly regulated and there is a huge market for organic products which helped me understand this field better and take it up in such a big way.”
In the beginning, after speaking to many local farmers, Anand learnt they do not eat the produce that they grow due to high chemical use while farming apart from being a source of income. “Farmers are ready to turn to organic farming but it requires high initial investments and the government needs to process their subsidiary system faster. Due to this organic farming turns out to be expensive, which the poor farmer cannot afford”. Despite delays from the department to subsidise initial costs, Anand said he went ahead. “Labour is another challenge which is difficult to come by and expensive.” Another issue is putting up with fussy vegetable vendors in the area who tend to prefer one colour and size for all and anything a little out of shape is rejected. “Everyone wants to make a profit at the end of the day,” he says.
“For Organic farmers selling our produce can be harsh due to lack of market and high competition. Right now the bananas which I am growing are sold at 1/3rd of the market value and re-sold at double/ triple of my selling price!
Kinds of fruits and vegetables
All kinds of produce are grown at the farm; all green and leafy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, cauliflowers and beans. Tomato, brinjal, chillies, pumpkin, beetroot, gourds, pumpkin, lady’s finger, methi, coriander, spinach, carrots, potatoes are also grown. The farm recently had a successful corn harvest that was celebrated it with families. Chickoos, bananas and guavas are a few of the fruits grown here.
According to Anand, cities are becoming more mechanical and urbanised, and farming allows urban folk to take a step back connect with nature and understand themselves more.
Handy tips for someone who wants to farm:
1. Have a reliable trustworthy person working with you to take you through the process
2. Visit the government department and speak to them, you get useful information and knowledge
3. Give incentives to your labourers like a small plot to grow their own vegetables to avoid labour problems
If you wish to visit GreenThumbsMini Farms or would like to know more about becoming a member contact Anand Muddar firstname.lastname@example.org contact: +91- 81056-01928, or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Welcome-to-Green-Thumb-Mini-Farms/197686053672179
All pictures by Kavya Chandra and Anand Maddur.
The Kitchen Gardener is a fortnightly series on urban farmers who grow fresh produce in their backyards leading to growing people, community and a more sustainable earth. From journeys of starting to challenges along the way and practical wisdom, the kitchen gardening series helps you kickstart your own food patch wherever you live.