Friends, have you ever wondered if you could turn your terrace or balcony into a farm or a kitchen garden? Well you can! Here’s how one such young mind turned cities into edible landscapes!
Kapil Mandawewala’s Edible Routes, an eco-initiative based in Delhi, proudly holds a record of having about 200 urban gardens and almost 100 land projects, that too within a period of just 4 years. This huge initiative was started to lend a helping hand towards urban dwellers and for them to learn organic farming, this organisation strongly advocates the need for megacities to nurture plants indoors.
Kapil Mandawewala is alumni at the University of Texas. Even though after being in the United States for many years, working hard on studying ‘Management of Information Systems and Finance’ and then finally having a career at Deloitte Consulting as a senior consultant in 2008, in San Francisco, Kapil relocated to Gujarat to start organic farming at his 22-acre farmland. He was inspired by the mission of creating awareness about eating healthy to foster sustainable communities, and thus he started Edible Routes.
Kapil never really had a family background in farming. In fact, no one in his family had ever done farming or had a career in agriculture. He began and learned everything right from scratch. In the beginning, it all appeared too glamourous to him but unfortunately in this process, he happened to make a lot of blunders due to which he lost quite some money too.
It took him about five years to figure out everything in a perfect manner and that’s when he decided to move to the cities and start the concept of ‘Urban Gardening’.
First, he started growing organic vegetables on his 20-acre family farm in Gujarat. His brand ‘Sajeev Fresh’ gained a lot of popularity due to its nature of business. Eventually, he started conducting workshops and training programs on growing organic food and living healthy.
He began to notice that his workshops turned to be quite impressive but there was still something lacking. Soon he realized that although people were very impressed, but only a handful would go back and actually start it. So, to bring a change, he started visiting the homes of interested customers to help them set up their farms at their own houses.
His journey began with an introspection. Kapil realized that the root cause of a lot of problems of modern illness lies in the food we eat. This led him down to the origin of it all, ‘Farming’.
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables when picked up straight from the farm, taste purely delicious.
Why does it happen? Why is the food we eat usually lacks the same taste and nutrition? This is because there are toxic chemicals sprayed on these to keep them fresh for longer. The half-harvested product is sprayed with artificial ripeners to make them look ripe.
Kapil believes when the farmer doesn’t know the one he is producing the food for, he feels less responsible to make it edible and makes it more of a commercial product. This hampers the quality of life of people consuming it. These toxins are deteriorating the quality of water, soil and killing insects and pests that contribute to the growth of our natural ecosystem.
So Kapil decided to do away with all this through organic farming. These plants not just give you nutrition, but they also produce 10 times cleaner and fresher air. ‘One batch of kale growing in your kitchen window will help produce enough oxygen and natural cooling that you would not need to switch on the kitchen fan’, is the experience shared by a reputed health blogger.
A renowned entrepreneur Mandawewala tells us why is it so important to go organic!
• He says- living in the cities makes it more important for us to be aware of three things before purchasing food products. Who is growing our food? Where is it being grown? How is it being grown? These are the main issues with food today. So, you and I need to have a check of these 3 questions before buying anything.
• Having a deep connection with your food is a must. Did you know that none of what we eat from the market is ripened naturally? Yes, it’s true. For any fruit or a vegetable to reach fresh to you, farmers usually harvest them unripen and thus it’s ripened with the help of calcium chloride so that it doesn’t rotten by the time it reaches the market.
• According to Kapil, the freshness of vegetables is its most important aspect. He believes any produce loses half of its nutritional density in 24 hours. So, the distance the vegetables and fruits cover also determines the freshness of the produce.
• Lastly, Mandawewala encourages his students and clients to follow the natural foresting techniques such as planting five different items in one space. He believes that this way we can create a natural synergy and interaction between the plants.
However, CARING is his most successful technique for maintaining a green garden.
Kapil has always maintained what he said once, “We have a saying in Gujarati: the best khaad (fertiliser) for your land is your own footsteps.” He treats plants like his own children; this way he remains to be their godfather as he wants each one to bloom beautifully in their own way.