Had last month’s strike by the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) prolonged, an apartment complex in Kurla would stay unaffected.
In December 2013, like-minded green enthusiasts from Kohinoor City, Kurla (West), converted a quarter of an acre barren patch into a kitchen garden. Within a month, the first yield of organically grown spinach, amaranthus (lal math) and fenugreek (methi) cropped up on the patch. Today, a mini green lung amidst 11 apartment buildings is home to a host of vegetables - brinjals, cucumbers, pumpkins, papayas, leaf cody (kadipatta), lemongrass, and apiaceae (ajwain), to name a few.
Every weekend, adults and children get together at the garden patch called ‘Greenshoots’ to spend their mornings nurturing vegetables. “Growing vegetables is exciting and a therapeutic process and thus we try to involve as many children as we can from the society. Volunteers carry out watering, weeding, composting, harvesting and sale of vegetables,” said Samir Bhure, a resident, who introduced the idea along with wife Rashmi.
The project was completed with the help of an NGO in the city — Earthoholics.
“For the last three years, regular gardening workshops have been organised during vacations for children and adults by the NGO or individually by residents,” said Rashmi.
Excess vegetables are sold within the apartment complex that fetches Rs 500 to Rs600 every week. “The money made from the sale are used for the maintenance of the garden itself,” said JN Thapliyal, secretary of the society. “The basic motto of our garden is ‘grow what you eat and eat what you grow’.”
Last month, environmentally conscious residents decided to recycle the 250kg of wet waste generated from all 11 buildings by installing four compost pits at one end of the apartment complex. NGO Stree Mukti Sanghatana was roped in to sensitise residents and maids about the importance of segregation and waste management. They spent Rs45,000 on the project.
“More than 126 maid servants were sensitised over three hours on one Sunday regarding the segregation of waste and its importance,” said Rashmi Joshi, coordinator, Stree Mukti Sanghatana, adding that initially residents were reluctant. “The project took off after awareness meetings with committee members and field visits to similar projects at Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar and Ballena Society at Chheda Nagar, Chembur.”
Joshi added that in a month, the society gets over 500kg of compost that is used for the mini organic farm and for terrace gardening at individual apartments.
In two months’ time, the apartment complex is planning to become a zero-garbage one as 125kg of monthly dry waste will be sent for recycling by Stree Mukti Sanghatana and electronic waste will be collected on the ground floor of every apartment. “By taking these initiatives, our hope to ensure that the green lungs of our surrounding areas are intact and we contribute to keep our city green and clean,” Jugnu Gosrali, another resident.
It is an informative model of waste segregation and an effective way to treat waste through large scale wet waste composting. The model needs to be replicated by more societies in the ward so that the burden on dumping grounds and transportation cost of sending waste could be reduced,” said a senior official from the solid waste management department, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Why should you care about waste segregation?
BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
•Helps prevent pollution
•Reduces your carbon footprint
•Decreases your dependency on garbage trucks, which in turn, reduces traffic congestion on streets
•Compost helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients
•Compost suppresses diseases and harmful pests
•Low-cost alternative to fertilisers and pesticides
•Encourages community activity
According to a report by the civic body’s solid waste management (SWM) department, 14,000 of an approximate 2,65,000 housing societies, buildings and gated complexes across the city’s 24 wards segregate waste, which means only 5% of housing societies are segregating waste in Mumbai.
Composting through bacterial culture
•Before starting the composting process, bacterial culture is put at the base of the compost pit.
•Well crushed food waste helps to fasten the process of decomposition.
•Since the bacteria are very small in size, crushed food waste is important.
•Bacterial culture decomposes the food waste as well as fights the foul smell.
•Six to seven per cent manure of the total food processed is received.
“The speciality of bacterial culture is that, we can process both cooked as well as uncooked food & convert it into manure. Beyond that, wet waste is diverted from the dumping ground and converted into best quality manure, which is excellent for agriculture,” said Rashmi Joshi, coordinator, Stree Mukti Sanghatana.
(Source: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre)