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Kitchen gardening: Gurgaon women lead the way in growing vegetables, eating healthy

Residents said high retail and wholesale prices of vegetables made them explore the idea of turning their terraces and balconies into kitchen gardens

gurgaon Updated: Jul 23, 2017 23:22 IST
Leena Dhankhar
Leena Dhankhar
Hindustan Times
Growing awareness on harmful chemical residue in fruits and vegetables prompted Gurgaon women to turn to kitchen gardening.
Growing awareness on harmful chemical residue in fruits and vegetables prompted Gurgaon women to turn to kitchen gardening.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

It is July and Seema Aggarwal Mitra, a resident of Nirvana Country in Sector 50, can’t wait to sow seeds in her kitchen garden.

“The thought of the harvesting season makes me super excited as the leafy vegetables and herbs on my roof will make for an organic treat for my family,” Mitra, who took up kitchen gardening from the time she realised she had a green thumb, told Hindustan Times.

The terrace of her apartment has turned into a veritable farm over the last six years.

Mitra is one of many women in Gurgaon who took to kitchen gardening in earnest from the time the concept started gaining currency across the city. The steady upward spiral in wholesale and retail prices of vegetables that often ate into their kitchen budget, prompted several women in the city to explore the idea of turning their roofs and balconies into kitchen gardens. And, the harvest, has been fairly encouraging.

A growing awareness on the high concentration of pesticides and wax in vegetables and fruits these days fuelled the quest among the city’s women to turn away from the market and grow and eat organic food.

However, the one aspect that is deemed the key to achieving success with kitchen gardening and has not escaped the city’s women who are into it is an understanding of what to grow and how to grow it best.

Nina Singh, a resident of Sector 17-B, finally honed the skill of growing her own veggies after experimenting with a series of plants.

“I have been into kitchen gardening for the last eight years. The objective was to become self-sufficient. Fear of global warming, soil erosion and extensive use of fertilisers and chemical supplements to grow vegetables in the field have made people aware of the need to eat healthy and turn to kitchen gardening,” Singh said.

Rajender Sharma, a resident of DLF Phase 4, said that one gets better at kitchen gardening with experience.

“When I took up kitchen gardening, I grew ten raddish plants as my gardener had advised me to. However, I ended up growing so much raddish that I didn’t know what to do with them. From then on, I started planting trees in two rows and added another couple of rows after two weeks. I learned from experience that it’s best to sow seeds than plant saplings,” Sharma said.

Read I Sow good: Tips to build your own kitchen garden

Sangeeta Choudhary, a homemaker from DLF Phase 4 who takes an active interest in kitchen gardening, said, “I learnt a lot about growing organic vegetables and fruits by connecting with like-minded people on Facebook. Apart from leafy vegetables and herbs, I have also had success growing grapes in my kitchen garden.”

Many women in DLF City and South City areas have even coined new names for kitchen gardening such as organic kitchen garden, balcony garden and rooftop garden.

Rekha Dalal, another homemaker, said, “The quantity of brinjals, spinach and herbs that I grow in my kitchen garden in winter are enough to meet the needs of my family for the entire season. In fact, the mint chutney, made from freshly-plucked mint leaves in my garden, is a popular dish at my home.”

In a bid to tackle and sort out issues that they often run into while practising organic farming, many women have set up groups, often comprising more than 100 members, to exchange ideas and inputs on running kitchen and rooftop gardens.

Sameera Satija, a resident of Sector 14 and part of one such group, said, “The idea (behind forming such groups) is to raise awareness on the ill effects of vegetables and fruits laced with harmful chemicals. Regular consumption of such fruits and vegetables could lead to severe health problems.”

Health experts also advise residents to watch out for vegetables and fruits laced with oxytocin.

Sumit Dewan, a resident of Ardee City and founder of UrOrganicFarm, said, “Plants require 17 types of rich nutrients to grow. However, harmful chemicals are often used as supplements. Excessive consumption of chemically-treated vegetables could lead to liver toxicity, headache, gastroenteritis and problems related to kidney and the central nervous system.”