Urban Farming & Environmental Education

I’ve had a couple of conversations with different folks working in the space of environmental education & urban farming. Combining some of the notes to start a collective thread here. Feel free to add in the different gaps and possible ways to support/catalyse this space.

  1. Urban Farming as a tool to generate more awareness about food systems and as an entry point for people to understand issues around environment & food systems.

    1. This is mostly the realm of projects done by the privileged as a hobby or a way to get closer to their food. The terrace gardening movement in Bangalore is a great example of this.
    2. Often this approach does convert many private spaces into production hubs which later can be accessed by many. Even if not public spaces there is immense scope of networking the current initiatives so people can discover, take help etc. from different initiatives that already exist.
    3. Maybe a Seed Exchange platform which can potentially help these different groups do an exchange among themselves, keep a track of who is growing what and exchange accordingly. Simple tech platforms to keep this track can have high levels of impact.
  2. Urban Farming as a way for alternative livelihoods for many marginalised.

    1. Often as villages and peri urban lands get declared as Urban many farming communities who have traditionally been farming there don’t get access to different farm benefits traditionally as there lands are no more seen as farm lands legally. People’s Resource Institute based out of Delhi is working on this agenda.
    2. Farming in Urban & Peri urban areas can both reduce supply chains, get people close to food systems (by getting them to visit farms etc.) and provide access to well paying livelihoods for the farming communities. Some really interesting experiments within this space have been attempted by Urban Thottam in Chennai. The range of experiments there include -
      1. Utilising empty urban spaces (parks, lands in colleges, government lands etc.) to produce food naturally (while giving livelihood to marginalised communities).
      2. Increasing edible garden programs within schools.
      3. Increasing rooftop gardening and having a large cadre of trained garden service providers who can help people set up their rooftop gardens etc. There’s literally 1000s of acres of land available in cities through rooftop gardens.
  3. Converting other public/semi-public spaces into farms by finding right anchors in the relevant communities.

    1. All colleges/universities across the country have tons of empty space. Can we find anchor professors across different colleges who can help establish these natural farms? They can both result in some addition to produce of canteens etc. but more so become a conduit for reconnecting with the soil/understanding other environmental issues for all the students in the college.
    2. Currently when we re-green/restore an urban lake often we only look at it only through the lens of recreational use of land only. But how can this also become a common space for producing food for the communities near by? Especially for the marginalised communities near by and even generating employment in return.
  4. Edible Gardens in Schools

    1. There is some national policy which requires every government school to have an edible garden involving students with even a small budget (around 10k per year) assigned to the garden too. 1000s of school have a lot of space to establish large enough gardens/farms but most often it doesn’t get implemented because of the usual challenges.
    2. Farm2Foundation is doing great work in this area across Assam. Me and Lalani even visited some of their sites. They aren’t just using the gardens to produce food but have them as an entry point to have a dialogue around -
      1. traditional seeds (there are great stories on how students have then started a dialogue on using natural forms of agriculture within their communities after the edible gardens intervention)
      2. nutritional needs of students
      3. using school edible gardens as a pedagogical tool
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Urban Farming & Urban Beekeeping seem like to complimentary activities :slight_smile:

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Hi, can we start with urban gardening education? I feel our efforts to spread awareness about topics like segregating waste fail because urban people fear smells and worms from composting. If they could practice gardening in pots on their windowsills, they might start appreciating it more…

We have set up a hydroponics farm on our rooftop . And have received a lot of interest from like minded people who want to grow vegetables for their own consumption. We are working on a model project that will cater to self consumption.


Great idea, thanks. But rooftop access in apartment buildings require society permissions. Do you also have ideas for balcony farming?