Hyderabad: In most Indian cities, especially metropolitan cities, green spaces are used for road widening projects or to build skyscrapers. At a time when unused spaces in a city are shrinking, how can we recover our green coverage? How about growing on the roof?
Living Greens Organics Private Limited is a Jaipur-based start-up founded by Prateek Tiwari in 2013 with the idea of encouraging organic rooftop farming. For the first five years, the company focused on working with individual households to maintain the rooftop gardens.
“Anyone interested in organic rooftop farming at their home gets in touch with us. We send them a portable farming system that they can install themselves. The portable farming system consists of a waterproof container, a soilless medium, an iron frame, a drip irrigation system, and an underground drainage system.It also includes an organic input kit consisting of organic sprays and fertilizers and vegetable seeds,” says Prateek.
Once the system is set up by the household, a WhatsApp group will be formed comprising the household, a subject matter expert and Prateek to provide support and advice to the household.
Although the portable system is exclusively for growing vegetables, there are similar systems for fruits like papaya, pomegranate, banana, etc. But since they grow big, they are not that popular.
This system allows individual households to procure their daily vegetables. Individual households also wake up in the morning with an abundance of fresh oxygen in their homes. Moreover, at the macro level, it contributes to making the city green. More importantly, it also cools homes.
“Usually, when our house is on the first or second floor or even higher and if the roof is left vacant, it will be exposed to the sun. When we practice farming on the roofs, it reduces this sun exposure and it cools at home,” says Prateek.
From his office in Jaipur, Prateek explains how his building stays cool thanks to organic farming on its roof. “We’ve had an air conditioner in this office for three years. But the thing is, it’s hardly been used three times in the last three years,” Prateek shares.
Over the past year, Living Greens has opened its initiative to schools, factories, hospitals and shopping malls. “Take the example of a factory. Many factories are located far from the city. There may not be any vegetable shops in these areas. Also, the factories mostly have flat roofs. This allows them to have an organic rooftop farm,” says Prateek.
Currently, Living Greens has expanded to 25 cities across India, distributing over 4,000 portable farming systems and cultivating around 2,50,000 square feet of area. “It is the best solution to reverse the negative impacts of urbanization. Green spaces have been cleared to build buildings. Now, to reverse the harmful effects of the process, gardens must be created on these buildings in order to restore the green,” adds Prateek.
During the pandemic, Living Greens has also heard of some unintended benefits from their customers. Young Indians living abroad began to learn about creating gardens on the roofs of their homes so that their parents would have a fruitful pastime. “With the pandemic and restrictions on movement, older people lost their ability to socialize. Organic farming was seen as a successful hobby,” says Prateek.
Even parents of young children have found it a good solution to provide some physical exercise for their children who were glued to their computers/mobile phones most of the time for online lessons.
Living Greens believes the government should also promote organic rooftop farming. “Rather than creating urban forests and vertical gardens on subway piers which have security and property issues, the government should encourage more people to practice rooftop farming,” says Prateek.
Living Greens is one of many companies that will participate in [email protected] 3.0 ((Innovations & New Knowledge in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) to be held in Hyderabad in May 2022. [email protected] is a unique platform instituted by Telangana City Administration and Urban Development for collaboration and partnerships among start-ups/innovators, mentors, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, funders and state/city governments.
NewsMeter is the official media partner of [email protected] 3.0. This article was written by NewsMeter in association with the Administration Staff College of India (ASCI).