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Grow Your Own Food in Urban Areas

Although there is constraint for space in urban areas, one can grow food. The roof tops of many building are mostly unused. Using "biochar compost" a light weight highly fertile material, plants can be grown for food and other values.

Photo of Sai Bhaskar Reddy Nakka
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Food is the basic need. In urban areas food is bought from rural areas. Mostly in urban areas, non food plants are grown. Every plant is beautiful and if it has a value as food, then it serves greater purpose. As the concentration of population in urban areas is high and also globally the population is growing. There is a limit for land resources to grow enough food for the needs of ever growing population. Food security is imminent; by 2020 many countries would face this problem on a large scale. By cultivating food plants, the greenery in the urban areas is restored, would address the livelihoods of some people, as a carbon sink and also benefits through CO2 emissions reduction. Biochar compost used as a media for growing crops addresses carbon sequestration and emissions reduction from soil and compost, purifies the water, having high water retention capacity, needs less water and frequency of application of water is reduced, drastically reduces the fertilizer application due to reduced leachets, acts as an insulation material for the rooms, creates a great space of vibrancy and freshness in urban areas.

What resources (money, time, people, technology, etc) will your concept need to be successful?

The dry leaves and other biomass litter usually burnt or collected and dumped in the waste dump yards can be converted in situ into biochar, using simple retorts. The wet biomass with biochar can be used for preparing the biochar compost, which also reduce emissions from compost. This is also a simple method of waste management in urban areas. Simple retorts made up of used drums / constructed using bricks in parks or gardens would serve the purpose of biochar production from dry biomass. The wet biomass from kitchens including including kitchen waste can be used for biochar compost perparation. The cost involved is only a fraction of the amount spent on solid waste management. There are umpteen, open roof-top spaces in urban areas. To start with – Institutions, shopping complexes, schools, government buildings, apartments, etc, roof-tops can be used for biochar gardens. In the evenings the same spaces would be useful for recreation and also for buying the vegetables fresh. Organisations with the support of civil society and very little financial support can implement this project successfully.

What steps could you take to implement this idea today?

Forming an organisation with people from relevant disciplines / experiences.
Working with the Urban municipal authorities and identifying the potential areas.
Study of the solid waste (dry and wet) availability
Awareness with the community
Pilot demonstration of an Urban Biochar Garden - growing crops
Training on the biochar compost preparation to the community
Scaling up as cooperative / commune urban biochar gardens

How can your idea be scaled so that it's implemented in cities around the world?

Forming a network on the urban biochar gardens for food security.
Sharing knowledge and experiences through an web and other media
Training the organisation coming forward to implement the idea
Working with the local and governments at various levels for policy

My Virtual Team

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy

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