JP nagar excited about Oota from their Thota

Anand Kumar, a volunteer, Garden City Farmers Trust (GCFT) and a software engineer, was pleasantly surprised at the turnout at Sunday’s gardening mela – Oota from your Thota. He said, “The Facebook page (Organic Terrace Gardening or OTG) has around 2000 subscribers so I was expecting a smaller crowd. But it turns out that a lot of people are very curious and enthusiastic about farming in their backyard.”

He was also surprised by the thoughtful questions that were asked about organic farming. “People are taking this very seriously now,” he added.

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Oota from your Thota (OfyT) was organised on the World Kitchen Garden Day (celebrated on the 4th Sunday of August every year) at the grounds of Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind in JP Nagar. This was the fifth edition of the event organised by Garden City Farmers Trust, Bangalore (GCFT) in JP Nagar after earlier events in Malleshwaram, BTM Layout, Electronic City, and Hebbal.

The event started with an inspiring talk by organic farming pioneer Narayana Reddy. This event too witnessed visitors in a large numbers. The enthusiasm seems to be increasing with every event related to organic food, terrace gardening and growing oota in their own thota.

Bengalureans visited about 40 stalls full of organic and eco-friendly products ranging from food items to eco-friendly bags. Organic plants, seeds and cloth bags were a big hit with the visitors. Visitors thronged the food counters for organic and healthy snacks.

Age was no bar. While some children were seen playing on the see-saws and swings on the ground, many others were carrying small seedlings, eagerly waiting to go home and plant them in their backyard.

Trisha Jain, 13, who accompanied her father to the event, happily showed off her three organic seedlings. She said, “These are small organic plants that I will grow in my garden and water.”  When asked what according to her was organic, she replied that it was ‘chemical-free.’

Sanjeev Srinivasan, a resident of Vijayanagar said, “I have attended all the previous events and it is great to know that so many people share similar interests. I have a small garden on my terrace and this is one place where I can get all the requirements (for gardening) at the same place (under one roof).”

The various stalls stocked plants, seeds, bags, food and even soaps – all organic. Nirvaaha Naturals exhibited at OfyT for the third time. This stall had items ranging from organic turmeric – straight from the farmers, facepacks, homemade soaps and even natural toilet cleaners.

Meera Rajesh, a volunteer at the stall, said, “Overall, people are becoming more aware of the natural products. They want to use organic products and are enthusiastic about it.” Meera is part of the waste management team at National Games Village complex (Koramangala) and also had on sale Panchagavya (a blend of five products obtained from cows, used as a plant topic)

Daily Dump demonstrated how to make organic manure and compost in their homes. Dry leaves are mixed with the kitchen waste and kept in "Khambha" – a set of terracotta bins specially designed to make compost. It is turned (mixed) every three days so the compost gets air and does not smell. The khambhas were also sold at the stalls.

Citizen Matters stall was buzzing with people curious about the recently launched book – Living in Bengaluru. About a hundred books were sold.

Dr Vishwanath Kadur, well known expert on organic terrace gardening and a trustee at GCFT, said, “This time, the participation is in large numbers. We provide space for organic terrace gardeners to come up with their products and display and sell their harvest.”

GCFT members and OTG volunteers were busy explaining and responding to visitors’ queries on getting started, making vegetable planter beds, managing pests and more.

The volunteers had also bought their own produce and plants for display. Many visitors were disappointed they weren’t for sale. However they are went back inspired to start their own thotas too.

S Laxminarayan, from the GCFT, says a lot of people were interested in attending upcoming gardening workshops and that they have been flooded with calls from people expressing their interest in kitchen gardening, “One phone call was from the office of ADGP, prisons and they are looking at ideas to use the 100 acres of space they have, for growing food. We’re humbled by the response!”. He says the team is even more enthused to work towards creating many such roof gardens and bring back the gardens to the garden city again.

Citizen Matters was the media partner at the event.

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