Here’s a sketch of an idea running through my head for some days. A possible mechanism for growing vegetables (or other plants) underground. Will be trying it out next week and will post updates. Now, why would one do this?
The tree farming effort and the “underground farming,” both are ways of seeking “safe” and potentially uncontested public spaces to grow publicly accessible vegetables. Safe from vandals, unconscious destruction (like trampling, and we seldom have pavements here in India, so trampling is very likely to happen), animals (monkeys, cows, dogs) and traffic. The idea is that we will be able to find niches, which besides not getting in anyone’s way and being safe, might make an aesthetic impact in the environment in which they are placed.
Once these niches are identified and taken up, they could be marked in ways so that those seeking them (the homeless, street children, other urban farmers) can still do so without much difficulty.
PetPuja is an effort to seed a community of urban farmers. I plan to use public spaces, unused spaces, street-side spaces, gardens of volunteers, spaces under flyovers and bridges to grow easy-to-cook and nutritive vegetables and fruits.
- once a variety of vegetables and fruits are growing in different parts of Bangalore, recipe-based routes would develop. So to eat a recipe one would need to walk along a route, pluck the ingredients, cook the recipe and eat it.
- to compile maps of regular and stable crops in print form and work with organizations to make the maps available to the range of migrant and temporary labour force and the homeless in Bangalore (initially).
- to create a social and communal safety-net of food in cities so that in our modern cities of abundance and affluence, starvation and malnutrition won’t be as common as they are now.
- make cities less cold, unwelcoming and apathetic.
- the data collected across the process would help in developing inter-relations between factors such as soil toxicity and fertility, light, aggression (trampling, uprooting, eating), heat etc. and their impact on the survival factor of plants. I would further attempt to visualize this data in multiple ways.
- safety of plants growing in unguarded and unenclosed spaces
- develop spaces with growths of vegetables, fruits and flowers which influence their environment in multi-sensory ways (aesthetic, ecological…)
- a weekly routine of sowing, nurturing and documenting the planting effort.
- effort to involve volunteers in the process (students, street children etc.).
Time-scale of project:
Pilot: February to April 2008. The target of the pilot:
- Have one good crop of vegetables, fruits etc. for a public street-side party in the vicinity of the area where the plants are grown.