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Hyderabad, India: City residents volunteer on farms

Arifa Rafee (in orange) with Swiss delegates at her farm.

The mango plucking event turns out to be a learning experience. It isn’t as simple as plucking mangoes that look ripe. Guests are taught how to the select the fruit.

By Sangeetha Devi Dundoo
The Hindu
April 14, 2016


Volunteer programmes in farming are still in a nascent stage in the city, unlike farms in Spiti Ecosphere, Auroville and other farms in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim that have structured programmes. Volunteering schedules are drawn according to crop cycles. “Normally, people think of visiting a farm when they have holidays. But that may not coincide with the crop cycle and what’s necessary for the farm at that time,” Praveen points out. He adds that the intention should be to provide a learning experience to guests than to cut back on the workforce that earns its regular wages through farming.

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April 19, 2016   Comments Off on Hyderabad, India: City residents volunteer on farms

Harvard Doctoral student Aleksandar Sopov helped save Istanbul urban gardens

spovAleksandar Sopov has worked to preserve urban gardens in Istanbul. “I had to save them,” he says. “When those public places are erased, it moves people into arenas where demagoguery can take place.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer.

They had been tilled by Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, and, more recently, Syrian and Afghan refugees. “Their destruction would be the destruction of that connection between the Middle East and Europe.”

By Leslie Macmillan,
Harvard Gazette
Apr 14, 2016


Sopov said such ancient gardens are the forerunners of modern urban farming, which relates to modern concepts like food justice and sustainable cities. “When food is produced locally, consumers know more about farming practices,” he said, “so laborers aren’t unpaid and mistreated, and pesticides” aren’t used.

City farming is important because it engages a wide swath of urban dwellers, he said, creating a sense of community and shared purpose. The prevalent image of the eastern Mediterranean as divided along ethnic and religious lines and wracked by strife “is a recent political construct,” he said. In fact, despite the devastation wrought by the wars of the 20th century, “Skopje [in Macedonia] preserved many of its Ottoman caravansaries, hamams [baths], churches, mosques, madrasas,” proof of a vibrant, multicultural city.

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April 19, 2016   Comments Off on Harvard Doctoral student Aleksandar Sopov helped save Istanbul urban gardens