Building an urban farm

Updated: Nov 01, 2019, 07:48 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani | Mumbai

Get your hands dirty this Sunday at a community farm

Volunteers composting at the park
Volunteers composting at the park

About 15 years ago, when choir singer Marie Paul moved to D'Monte Road in Bandra, the view from her bedroom made her want to bring about a change in the neighbourhood. Her room offered a view of a dilapidated municipal park, made worse by pilfering drug abusers. The park was also home to close to 15 eucalyptus trees, which had turned the soil arid as they are not suitable to be grown here. Paul and a few other Bandra residents decided to form an Area Locality Management (ALM), approached the BMC and successfully adopted the park. Luckily for the group, a Good Samaritan offered financial help worth lakhs to overhaul the park, with a request to name the park after his late wife, Ratna Iyer.

"The park has now become a buzzing local community space. Children have a clean open space, and the park has hosted school trips too," says Paul. When the local government changed its policy on adoption of public parks five years ago, the ALM was first worried if their open space would go back to being derelict. But with help from local corporator Asif Zakaria, they managed to pass the reigns back to the government, but still maintain the park. A year and a half ago, Paul met avid kitchen and urban gardener Premila Martis at a church gathering. "I found out that she is a wiz at gardening; we also discussed the importance of local produce. It made me think about the wrongly planted eucalyptus trees. That's when we felt that with her information and knowledge about plants and our local reach, we could do a community gardening project at the park and nourish its soil again. And Dream Grove was born," Paul says.

Premila Martis and Marie Paul
Premila Martis and Marie Paul

Since then, a group of conscientious green thumbs meet every Sunday evening at the park to collect leaves for composting, segregation, mulching and bed-making. They even head to local bungalows to collect more leaves for composting. "We have people come all the way from Ghatkopar to Bandra," shares Paul, and this Sunday offers another opportunity for green enthusiasts to be a part of this gardening project.

On November 3, 5 pm
At D'Monte Road BMC Park, Bandra West.
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