Our site hunt was over and a seed for a community farming initiative was sown. Shraddha and I went material shopping for Step 1 of our project, ‘Germinating Seeds’.
From our conversations with the locals of Hauz Rani we realized it would make more sense to pass on seedlings and saplings along with the seeds. We visited Rajdhani Nursery in Jor Bagh to get basics for seed germination. The shopping bill included coco peat, soilrite mix, trowel & shears, seed trays and packets of various seasonal seeds i.e. Chilli, Tomato, Brinjal, Capsicum, Sponge Gourd and Spinach. These seeds were going to be grown in our tiny tub nursery on the KHOJ terrace.
In the same week we arranged a visit from Ajay Mahajan, an environmentalist, urban farmer and co-founder of Vividhara. What followed was a long debate about the seeds we had sourced. On each packet it said ‘poison treated’. They were all treated with pesticides and were hybrid seeds, in contrast to, what the shopkeeper had told us. Ajay Mahajan’s invited us to his seed bank at his residence and we discussed the potentials for farming in the park and residencies based on parameters such as:
1) Vandalism (pilferage): how to deal with it? Maybe plants that grow fast.
2) Fruits: more, smaller, faster.
3) Hardiness: native & seasonal species would grow better.
4) Growing space: sunlight, soil, water.
5) Grazing: how to protect from goats and cattle?
6) Material choice for containers: terracotta, tin, paint containers, basins and commodes etc.
7) Stakeholders: Do any people have a farming background? Include many people and distribute responsibilities. How to involve young kids? Almost every resident complain about kids being a menace to the plants and trees.
And based on the conditions we chose to go ahead with:
1) Basil: Sweet Basil / Genovase, Nyazbo
2) Water Spinach / kalmi saag
3) Spinach / palak
4) Malabar Spinach / poi shak
5) Moringa / Drumsticks
6) Red Amaranth / laal cholai
7) small round Karela /badri, Large Karela, native Uttarakhand Karela
8) Chilli: Cayene Pepper, Cluster chillies, red chillies.
9) Beans: Sem, Lobia