An urban farmer ‘changemaker’ in India
‘Oota from your Thota’, which in Kannada means ‘food from your garden’
By Divya Sreedharan
Oct 13, 2012
In the mid 1990s, Dr. B.N. Vishwanath, a gardening enthusiast went public with his passion. Grow greens on your terraces and your balconies, he urged his fellow Bangaloreans. Not many listened. Bangalore, then, was a sleepy city of sprawling bungalows and well-tended gardens. As the city grew, the bungalows disappeared and space began to be measured in square feet. What Dr. Vishwanath said all those years ago finally made sense.
Today, the agriculturist is considered one of the pioneers of urban farming in India. Founding trustee of the Garden City Farmers Trust (GCFT), his message is the same: “Eat what you can grow in your garden” or Oota from your Thota (OfyT).
“At organic gardening workshops, we tell participants to set up RWH systems and convert their kitchen waste into compost. That reduces their carbon footprint. And we tell them to buy seeds only for the very first time and thereafter, to grow their own,” Dr. Vishwanath says. Now, seeds of interest in OfyT are being sown in neighbouring cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvanathapuram.
Bangalore being an IT city, OfyT is growing thanks to innumerable blogs, web sites and the GCFT Facebook page. Two former techies in particular, Meera K. and Vincent Subramaniam, have played a prominent role in spreading the word as founder-co-editors of Citizen Matters, a Bangalore-specific community news platform. They are gardening enthusiasts too. Meera has a small terrace garden. Vincent has fruit trees and a kitchen garden.
OfyT came into being as a workshop/exhibition in August 2011, as part of the Kitchen Gardens International Day celebrations. Five editions have been held since. The next OfyT event will be in held Bangalore in November 2012.