Location: Scouts & Guides District Training Centre, Powai, Mumbai
Duration: June 2021 – Ongoing (includes permissions, implementation, maintenance and monitoring)
Typology of the solution: Urban Farming
Scale of the project : Neighbourhood
About the project:
The Food Garden was developed by Edible Routes Pvt. Ltd. as a pilot project, through the TheCityFix Labs: Accelerating Nature-based Solutions (NbS) anchored by WRI India, at a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Scouts & Guides District Training Centre in Mumbai. The food garden has been developed across an area of 2000 sq. ft., and has about 16 different species of vegetables, squashes and gourds. The garden has been developed over a concrete surface with about 20 brick beds filled with gobar khad (cow dung manure), cocopeat and potting mix, which are lined with drain trays and weed cloth. The water is supplied through a drip irrigation system.
The supervisors and a gardener of the training institute have been trained to maintain the food garden and monitor the garden to diagnose any issues. The supervisors will subsequently train teachers and the students who attend the Scouts and Guides training camps. The larger aim is to engage students in practical lessons on organic farming, while also harvesting produce from the garden to be used in the campus kitchens.
The main objective of the pilot project – Food Garden is to:
a. Engage students and teachers who come to the training institute during their camp sessions, to practically engage and learn about organic farming. This is expected to
(I) enhance social and environmental awareness,
(II) upskill the youth and
(III) promote neighborhood level food security.
b. Enhance the green cover and biodiversity in the campus by growing varieties of food producing plants.
Project Implementation and activities:
- A visit to the institution’s campus was made to identify the site that can be used for the food garden. After finalising the site, all required site dimensions and photos were taken.
- The closest water supply source was identified according to the site location, and the need for a pump was checked according to pressure and the height of the water source and the identified site.
- The design of the food garden was done considering the local site conditions. This included play equipment (slides, climbers) that were at the identified site. Space for movement was also incorporated to tend to the plants across the garden. The design was done for a total area of 2000 sq. ft.
- Post the design stage, the procurement of materials was carried out, along with identifying local labourers for the execution works. The project was executed in under 3 weeks. A total of 16 species of vegetables, squashes and gourds were planted in the garden, and the water supply through drip irrigation system was set up.
- Post execution, the supervisors of the institution and the gardener of the campus were trained on multiple aspects pertaining to the maintenance of the garden. This included topics such as principles of organic farming, how to take care of plants, the soil bed, pest and nutrition management, and composting.
- The site stakeholders have trained to undertake monitoring for any issues such as water supply, leaf health etc., which can be resolved through guidance from Edible Routes through a WhatsApp group and periodic site visits.
- Edible Routes – Provided the solution and design
- Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation – Provided the land parcel and necessary permissions to execute the project
- Scouts and Guides Training Centre Staff – Long-term maintenance and student training
- WRI India – Facilitated the project through the TheCityFix Labs: Accelerating Nature-based Solutions, Mumbai 2022
Source of Finance:
The pilot project was allocated a pilot implementation contract through the TheCityFix Labs accelerator, anchored by WRI India. The accelerator is part of the Cities4Forests global initiative funded by the Caterpillar Foundation and Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Capex + (Opex – 10 months): INR 9,74,850 (includes travel, design, procurement of materials, labour, execution, training of stakeholders, and monitoring & evaluation)
Opex: approx. INR 15,000 – 20,000 annually (includes seeds, repair and miscellaneous costs on a year-on-year basis in caring for the created green cover)
Although the campus of the training institute is large, the only site available for implementation was an unused play area with a concrete surface. Hence, the decision was taken to incorporate existing play equipment such as the slides and climbing equipment into the design of the food garden, and use them to grow varieties of creepers.
- Water usage, harvest produced, plant health
- Stakeholders trained and engaged – Students, teachers, supervisors and gardeners, improved awareness amongst stakeholders
- Cost savings from using food grown locally as against purchasing from market/mid-day meal schemes
Monitoring and evaluation of the project impact is ongoing.
- Planning and designing the farm/garden in terms of the local site conditions and context including weather, canopy cover, sunlight amongst others, by engaging with the local site stakeholders is critical.
- Full-fledged training and engagement of the institutional stakeholders in the monitoring and maintenance of the garden is important to hand over the responsibility before the project ends, and thereby, also ensuring long term sustenance of the garden.
Scalability and replicability potential and conditions for success:
The food garden can be developed on the building rooftops as well as at the ground level after carefully considering the local weather, sunlight patterns, building codes, roof loading capacities amongst other considerations. This can be scaled up across institutional, commercial and residential buildings across Indian cities to deliver impact such as reduction in heat, enable food security and enhance biodiversity. Strong support, leadership and responsibility from the local site stakeholders is needed to ensure that the food garden sustains for a long duration.
Kapil Mandawewala, Director, Edible Routes Pvt. Ltd.