Through the years, shopping for farm supplies meant a long trip through traffic to get to the old supply store in South Central Mumbai. As soon as I entered, the acrid smell of bottled pesticides and insecticides would assault my senses. Most seeds on sale were hybrid or GMO varieties. Even the organic soils on sale seemed suspect. Unhappy, but with no option, I bought, and fled.
Then last month my readers (thank you, folks!) jolted me into action by voting strongly in favor of an online, home-delivery solution for Mumbai’s organic urban farmers. Fools rush in, they say…and I was hardly going to refuse a good challenge, for a good cause 🙂
And so, it’s been a journey since….traversing exciting locales like Bhandup, Titwala, Antop Hill, Charkop, Koparkhairane, Saki Naka, Asalpha, Dharavi, Kanjur Marg, the unforgettable Dadyseth Agiary Lane, and all of the unmitigated madness that is Masjid Bunder…I’ve sourced 58 disparate items to create the city’s first online marketplace for urban farmers! Mandy for Mumbai Farmers is now live!!! Take a look at some of my most exciting finds…
Beautiful, crystalline, pristine Epsom Salts. Available by the tonne in the center of the city …… Now who would have thought it could ever be possible?! Sparkling like amber diamonds, rare and elusive vermiculite crystals (one tonne anybody?!) …The photo does not do it justice, believe me….I’m such a sucker for beautiful things!
Recycling urban waste like wood ash, to grow food that sustains and nourishes, makes the circle of life seem complete. I’m sure you feel this way when you create vermicompost – ‘black gold’ for farmers – from veggie waste that would have otherwise rotted meaninglessly in a city dump. It feels good to give back to earth 🙂
One of my most memorable encounters was at a store in congested Crawford Market, one with a mind-boggling inventory of metallic drums, cans, bowls, basins and even bandicoot-traps. Glad to see an alternative to plastic, I pointed out a metallic watering can to the store-owner. I was then aghast when this elderly, but oh-so-gallant Muslim man insisted on clambering up a steep, unsteady ladder, to bring the item down for my inspection! He even suggested I take the ‘trial’ piece for free, an offer I had to refuse. But boy, did I get sold on the metallic watering can?!
Another interesting find was a massive shed of cane products – hundreds and thousands of carefully crafted containers, trays, boxes and what-have-yous. And nestled amongst them was this perfect little produce basket – symbol of hope and optimism that our urban farms shall give forth fruit (and leaf and root!), enough to feed the stomach and the soul!
But by far the most fulfilling experience was to sit down and synthesize years of hands-on urban farming insights, reams of knowledge, and an intuitive sense of different earthy materials – to formulate original Potting Mixes, using packaging that was sensible, sustainable and sleek, and simplifying processes to the cleanest, sharpest and most minimal edge…
Well, that’s all for now! Creating the product line for Mumbai Farmers – and in one month flat – proved to be entertaining, exhilarating – and exhausting! You can now check out my Marketplace for original Earth-Friendly Grow Kits, Urban Farming Kits and Refill Packs of everything organic/natural – from Earth to Epsom Salts, Vermicompost to Vermiculite, Potting mixes to Potash, Gobar to Garden Gloves, Limestone, BoneMeal and more stuff in the pipeline which will make your urban farming adventures so much more fun, and so easy! But hold on for a while, okay? Just let me catch my breath for now……:-)
Until the next post, or the next adventure you send me on – happy farming in the city!