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Urban Farmers Gather to Exchange Seeds & Ideas for Sustainable Agriculture

On April 12, a small but passionate group of urban farmers gathered with the goal of creating a platform where they could exchange seeds, information, and other resources.

Shivam Dwivedi
Passionate Urban Farmers Gather to Exchange Seeds & Ideas for Sustainable Agriculture (Pic Credit)
Passionate Urban Farmers Gather to Exchange Seeds & Ideas for Sustainable Agriculture (Pic Credit)

The event was held to commemorate the first anniversary of the Eco Park Information Centre (EPIC), which is located in Padur off Rajiv Gandhi Salai. EPIC's founder, retired IAS officer Santa Sheela Nair, said that around 3,000 people had visited the Centre in the previous year, which has a Miyawaki forest, 27 trees related to the Nakshatras, beehives, herbal plants patch, rainwater-fed paddy, millet and vegetable patches, and even a fish pond on a 30-cent plot. 

"We didn't want an ordinary event to commemorate our anniversary, so we decided to host a gathering of local urban farmers. I believe the farmer's profile will alter. Farming will be a popular career path. We must strongly promote agricultural activity in urban and peri-urban areas. Since we learned the difficulty of carrying food during the pandemic, this is the only viable path forward. We need to grow food for ourselves," she explained.

According to Ananthoo of the Organic Farmers Market, the majority of these farmers had joined a WhatsApp group and were exchanging information. Some of them had been farming for a while and were familiar with bugs and animal diseases. They also desired increased contact and the consolidation of items so that they could be promoted.

"In terms of seed exchange and sapling exchange, we hold regular seed fests. One such festival will take place on Sunday at Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya in T. Nagar," he said. 

Karthikeyan, a farmer from Thiruporur, stated that he wants to link consumers with farmers and educate them on the challenges that farmers confront. "During the lockdown, I took mangoes and watermelons from farmers and found buyers for them," he explained.  David and Ann, the owners of Idlers Café in Thirukazhukundram, detailed how they worked with the local community and hired women as chefs at their café and on their three-acre farm. In addition to their own harvest, they purchase vegetables from the Organic Farmers Market. 

Shammy Jacob and Charlotte, who were just given a silver Award for Responsible Tourism, have a 100% solar-powered farm, small-sized plots where people can grow their own vegetables, restored shipping containers for tourists to stay in, and a shop in Thazhambur where they sell veggies. The urban farmers aim to gather again on July 1 to discuss seeds, saplings, and ideas before the month of Aadi begins.

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