The ‘Emgee Greens society’ of Mumbai’s Wadala area is slightly different from other societies. For the last two years, BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) vehicles do not come to the garbage in this society. Actually, people living in this society for two years are making organic manure from household waste only. According to an ‘Environmental Status Report’ (ESR) released by BMC, a total of 6,500 to 6,800 metric tonnes of waste was generated in Mumbai in 2019-2020. About 73 percent of this waste was food residue. Seeing this as a major problem, people living in the society are trying to make it become ‘Zero Waste Society’.
Growing organic vegetables
There are about 131 families in the ‘Emgee Greens society’, whose houses generate about 60 kg of wet waste every day. People living here have been collecting the waste of the society in the rear of its building for two years. These people are converting waste into compost by following the ‘aerobic manure method’. The work was started in an attempt to avoid giving the society waste at the city’s dumpyard.
Local corporator Sufi Vanu has also confirmed these claims of the society. He explains that, “For two years, the municipality has not been collecting garbage here. That is why it is called ‘Zero Garbage Society’. ”
However, it was not long ago, when the people here began to look into this problem. Society secretary Ashwin Fernandes says, “There are 131 families in the society.” However, we were happy with the effort to reduce our waste. But there was no one to buy the manure we were making. ” So far, only one ton of manure has been generated from the waste generated daily.
However, some people living in the society used manure regularly. While Suhel Merchant used to grow flowers in his balcony, Sunil Deshpande used to grow other vegetables like spinach, fenugreek and coriander in his balcony.
Suhel, a business consultant by profession, says, “We came to know that some other people are also growing vegetables on the balcony. Then we thought about doing organic farming on the terrace. Thinking about turning waste into compost and then growing organic vegetables on the roof, was certainly a good idea. We sought permission from Ashwin, the secretary of the society and started the project about five months ago. ”
He considered growing crops in an organic manner so that pesticides or pesticides are not used much.
Today, people living in this society grow about 90 kg of crops in a month. Many other vegetables including spinach, fenugreek, brinjal, chilli, bitter gourd, cauliflower, coriander and tomato are being grown here. Sunil, Suhail and another resident of the society, Atharva Deshpande, spend more time on the terrace than other residents. Atharva, who is preparing for MBA, says, “Apart from us, many more people also help us in the needs of terrace farming. We organize a farming session every Sunday, where everyone from the society and their children attend organic farming workshops. ”
Farm beds made from shelves lying idle
The people living here are not only using waste to grow organic vegetables, but are also recycling other waste items which are being used for farming. Many things have been used to make farm beds. Farm beds have been made by recycling old water bottles, buckets, washbasins, cupboards and beds in which vegetables are being grown. Suhail says, “We are trying to recycle everything so that expenses related to terrace farming can be reduced as well. We are recycling, reusing (redundancy) and reducing (reducing) things. ”
This society spends 11 thousand rupees every month on organic terrace farming. Which includes the cost of a full time gardener.
He adds, “It takes eight days to make a new bed for any plant. We put mud on the beds and water it for four days. Then we add bionyl (which is also organic and used to increase soil fertility), water it in two days so that it becomes completely nutritious for any plant and then fertilizer is added to it is. We then add more soil to it. This process takes eight days. ”
Terrace farming makes organic vegetables easily available to the people living in the society. By having terrace farming within the society, they have made it much easier during lockdown. Atharva says that the present-day farming on the terrace is currently not able to meet the needs of the people living in the society. He says, “Of course, we are not getting enough things that we can eat organic food every day.” But, if we are getting it twice a week then it is enough. ”
For those living in the society, this was an early project. They also recommend terrace farming to other Mumbai-based societies. The society’s Instagram page ‘GreensPerSqFt’ has many people learning roofing and gardening tricks. Atharva says, “The Corona epidemic has increased the dependence of metros on farms. This idea of using the same manure to fertilize waste and grow organic vegetables, will make societies more self-sufficient in the future. Just think that organic farming started happening everywhere! Wouldn’t it be a healthier and happier life?