The Urban Farmer By Karma
Taking a detour
By now he was 3 years old and I found my interest in reading about different art forms out of which I found Islamic art form really enticing. It was rich in culture, color and history. So, I started reading more and more about it and ended up compiling a script on Islamic calligraphy, pottery, and architecture. After trying to send the synopsis to few people, I figured out that it wasn’t going to work as I didn’t have the correct connections to sell my research to relevant channels. So, I was back to square one after spending some 7-8 months doing all the research, but I had in the process enriched myself with so much knowledge that I could talk about it with people; and then came some more like-minded people and I was attracted to the idea of approaching people who were doing something unique and write about them.
It was 2011 that I connected with a group of people and became one of the directors with Artconnect where we tracked down creative people with some difference, meet them, talk to them and then write about them. It was going great as I Ioved meeting new people and I was also writing about them; that happens to be my interest area as well. Finally, this too came to an end only to begin with the better times with Navyaham with the same group of people where we were creating artworks of Hindu mythology and bringing them on T-shirts. It was an amazing project and I was really enjoying it. All was well until the time I was denied my pay and was taken for granted for a good 6 months. I had to take the most difficult call because Navyaham had become my reason to wake up every morning. I quit it in December 2011 and went into depression for a good 2 months, but nature had something amazing for me in the form of this new bunch of people I had met through some common friends while I was painting walls in Bandra (read murals) with them. While I was failingly trying meditation, organic farming came in as a savior at that point. There was this group of people who were setting up an organic food garden at Tata Actrec, Kharghar which was a stone’s throw away from my place and I had no reason not to go.
Discovering a love for urban farming
It was April 2012. I went the next day and kept going as a volunteer who would need instructions on dos and don’ts. I kept volunteering for a good 2 years when one day I was asked to take charge of the farm that included taking care of the 30000 sq ft of the area where we had been growing seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruits since 2012 till date, with 2 gardeners and volunteers. We have been growing organic produce for the kids who stay here for their chemotherapy which goes on for 3-6 months and this kind of food supports them at a holistic level.
Manasvini Tyagi is based in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai since 2006. She is a Textile Designer by profession and was on Khadi Gramodyog panel of junior designers where she had taken up a project back in 2005. Now she has a brand called Aghaaz with her friend Asmita Sharma where she works on her artworks. Since 2012, she has been actively involved in Urban Farming and has taken it up as a profession. She teaches gardening/kitchen gardening at schools/preschools and also conducts workshops for kids and adults.