Seeds of progress
With the objective of improving food and nutrition security, the UHRC has been encouraging households in the slums of Indore and Agra to grow their own vegetables in the small spaces that are available to them. UHRC’s social facilitators provide the seeds and motivate families to plant the seeds and tend to them as they grow. Families plant the seeds where they can find space – in small spaces behind their homes or even in broken buckets.
So far, families have grown beans, bottle gourds, round gourds, sponge gourds, tomatoes, brinjals, small green peppers, and pumpkins. Early adopter families also helped and encouraged other families around them to grow vegetables. The exercise became popular and between 2019 and 2020, families grew as much as 60,000 kilogram of vegetables.
The vegetables grown by families living in slums proved to be particularly useful during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns last year which wiped out their incomes and eroded their savings. Families were able to cook the vegetables they grew such as bottle gourd, tomatoes, cauliflower, brinjals etc. This approach served as a lifeline helping many families tide through the acute crisis that the May-July 2020 lockdown brought to their doorsteps. Even now as the families continue to wade through uncertain livelihoods and depleted savings, the produce from vegetable gardening help in coping with food insecurity.
Approximately, 1,100 families are able to share their produce with neighbours setting an example of solidarity among the poor and promoting a sense of psychological well-being and accomplishment which are crucial to the overall well-being of the urban vulnerable population.
The small vegetable gardens also have a positive impact on the environment. Despite each garden being quite small, they have the potential to mitigate carbon emissions and thus help in the climate challenge facing the world. Vegetable plants release oxygen, the soil sequesters carbon thus reducing atmospheric carbon. The gardens also contribute to the cooling effect in urban spaces.