Helping you with your green patch

What started off as personal interest, has now become a zealous drive to encourage more people to take to organic gardening. Meet Vinay Chandra, the man with the mission.

Vinay Chandra is a man with a mission. What started off as a personal interest in nature, farming and organic agriculture, has for the last year become a zealous drive to help more and more city dwellers like you and me to make our own little patch of green.

Square foot garden

Square foot garden. Pic courtesy: Vinay Chandra.

Before starting his initiative to help set up kitchen gardens, Chandra did a lot of ground work. He spent a lot of time with with organic farmers and activists and read a lot on organic farming. He visited many organic farms in and around Bangalore including H R Jayaram’s (of Dollars Colony-based Era Organic, an organic retail outlet) farm at Nelamangala, A P Chandrashekar’s farm near Nanjangud and N R Shetty’s (a trustee of Sahaja Samruddha, a farmer-initiated group to discuss ideas on sustainable agriculture) one acre farm near Nelamangala.

In fact Jayaram allowed Chandra to work on his farm over the weekends. This helped him understand and learn more about plants and organic farming.

After a brief gap where he attempted working in a typical corporate setup as well as freelancing in other areas of interest, Chandra was introduced to urban farming. He attended various kitchen garden workshops.

J-garden offers a range of products and services and an installation could typically include wooden crates as planters (customised to suit the available terrace/balcony space), organic seeds, plants, appropriate soil mix, gardening tools & accessories, consultancy to help you choose the best mix of plants you could grow.

Contact Vinay Chandra at jgarden.in

With the help of Krishna Prasad from Sahaja Samruddha, Chandra attended a workshop organised by Annadana (a network promoting the conservation, production, multiplication and exchange of seeds of traditional varieties of vegetables, pulses, minor cereals and all the plants favoring the development of sustainable agriculture) and then one by Dr B N Vishwanath (who conducts terrace gardening workshops at the AME Foundation)

Having understood the basic principles of urban farming, he started his own research and experimented with various models which has now taken shape as J-garden, a social enterprise. J-Garden provides kitchen garden installations and related equipment.

Over the last six months, Chandra has done eight installations for families in individual homes and apartments and one for a group of social engineers in a bank colony.

Of his experience so far, Chandra says it has been good and he feels people are becoming increasingly aware of the food they eat, where it comes from, what happens to it and other related issues.

Vinay Chandra

Vinay Chandra at work in his terrace.

He believes that organic terrace gardening is a simple and powerful means for the middle class to roll up their sleeves and get more involved with issues concerning their lives, rather than sit back and lament or be indifferent.

Chandra has a powerful dream for J-garden. He feels it should, among other things, become a platform to enable individuals to start urban organic terrace gardening just like they read the newspaper or check mail everyday!

In another avatar, Chandra is also an avid trekker, para-sailer, bird watcher and all things related to nature.

Vinay Chandra and other organic gardening enthusiasts will be participating at the upcoming seminar on Organic Terrace Gardening on September 9-10 2010 at University of Agricultural Sciences. For training workshops on organic gardening, contact AME Foundation/Shobha 26699512 or Vittal Mallya Scientific Foundation/Rajendra Hegde 94486 29528.

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