They say age is just a number. Well, if you don’t believe it you have to know about this Mumbai-based woman who turned her society’s building terrace into an organic veggies farm at the age of 50. Aarti Chauhan narrates her journey of growing terrace farm with KenFolios.
Aarti resides in Mumbai’s Mulund area. The society name is Mulund Shangrila where 46 families stay. It was five years ago when Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent a notice to the society asking for segregation of wet and dry wastes and producing fertilizer through bio composting out of the wet waste (also known as green waste). It is to reduce the garbage dump in Mumbai dump yards and reduce pollution.
Fortunately, the society residents were conscious enough about the environment and began producing fertilizer in 2016. Aarti who is now also a secretary of her society said that the building residents produce 6000 kilograms of wet garbage annually which turns into 500-600 kilograms of fertilizer annually.
Initially, the building residents would use the fertilizer for their balcony gardening. However, all the fertilizers were not being used. “I would always think of what would happen to the remaining fertilizers. Eventually, I figured out about organic terrace farming because I have some interest in farming,” says Aarti. She started terrace farming two years ago single-handedly.
“I am not the kind of lady who sits at home and does cooking. I am interested in doing various things. I am committed so wherever I put my hands, I try to be successful,” says Aarti. She was a teacher and left her job in 2007. She holds an M.com degree in economics.
Aarti would grow palak and other veggies that are easy to grow and demand low maintenance. The residents of the building began appreciating Aarti when they would get organic veggies to eat. Over some time, she gained confidence in organic farming and now she grows Palak, cabbage, cauliflower, cluster beans, tomatoes, chilies, lemon, bitter gourd, Broccoli, and a few more.
“The building terrace is 6000 sqft and I grow organic veggies in 3000 sqft. I harvest more than two kilograms of veggies every day and distribute them amongst society’s families. I try to cover every family of the society,” adds Aarti.
Because of her persistent in producing fertilizer out of the wet waste with the help of society’s housekeeping boys, and growing organic terrace farming, the building is now eligible for a 10% property rebate by BMC- 5% for segregating wet and dry waste and 5% for producing fertilizer out of the wet waste. It is BMC’s promise to the societies in Mumbai.
Aarti devotes three hours every day to terrace farming to take care of it. She wakes up at 5 in the morning. From 6:00 to 7:30 in the morning and 5:30 to 7:00 in the evening she spends doing farming.
So far she has been spending money for taking care of the terrace farming from her own pockets. There are a lot of recurring expenses. in terrace farming. “I have spent Rs. 48,000 on this terrace farming in two years. However, now residents of my society also contribute as per their wish for the same. They now also help me in doing farming more often,” reveals Aarti.
Aarti is happy with the thought that she can help so much with nature. Her society’s green waste is not going out and they are not getting dumped in Mumbai dump yards.
“Terrace farming was very helpful for me in the lockdown. So many people were going through lockdown blues, I had very good activity in my hand to pass my time-farming,” confirms Aarti.
Because of her initiative in turning the building terrace into an organic farm, a non-profit an organization called ‘Hariyali’ based in Mumbai appointed her as a joint secretary of the NGO. Aarti also takes awareness lectures in other societies in Mulund for segregation of waste, making fertilizer out of the waste, and turning building terraces into organic farms.
Aarti believes that “It (organic food) has a lot of health benefits. Live your life, but at least after 50 you should do farming. It is good for your brain also,” says Aarti.
The society has now got the tag of ‘Zero Garbage Society’ by Mumbai municipality.
This story is written by Bilal Khan.
If you like this story, share it and spread positivity. Tell us your views by writing in the comment box below. We read each one of them.