Mumbaikars Innovating with Space: 10 Urban Agriculture Projects in Mumbai

Lily Gordon

In a city that is hungry for both space and fresh produce, the need for urban agriculture in Mumbai is paramount—but its implementation requires some finesse. According to The New York Times, Mumbai occupies more than 370 square kilometers (230 square miles), but just 18.6 (11.6) are covered by open space, and only 6.3 (3.9) of those are open to most residents. How are Mumbaikars to grow in a city so pressed for space? These 10 organizations prove the city can do it.

City Farming is an organization that inspires students, families, and corporations to grow their own food in Mumbai—on terraces, balconies, and even the sides of buildings. Hosting weekly workshops, City Farming teaches Mumbaikars the growing methods of Dr. R. T. Doshi: with a little sugarcane waste, used polyethylene bags, soil, and seeds, the environmental impacts of pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, and the unnecessary disposal of organic waste are avoidable.

Established in November 2011, Earthoholics hosts urban farming shows, nature bazaars, and workshops on composting and hydroponics. Founder Smita D. Shirodkar teaches Mumbaikars that being green does not require buying expensive organic products, but rather a willingness to change your lifestyle, step out onto the balcony, and dirty your hands.

Fresh & Local is an organization that collaborates with various Mumbai establishments to use urban farming to transform the city. Its pop-up garden project addresses issues of privacy and safety for women, and The Table Farm garden provides food for the Mumbai restaurant The Table. Future plans include opening a series of shops carrying everything an urban farmer could need in Mumbai, “from open-pollinated vegetable seeds to eco-friendly pots to homemade natural fertilizers.”

With gardens at four schools in Mumbai, Green Schools Mumbai is an educational organization that teaches children about drip irrigation, growing medicinal herbs and plants with homemade compost, recycling wastewater, and harvesting rainwater. Using raised beds, children grow beans, garlic, okra, tomatoes, onions, and more at school.

Julius Rego, director of Green Souls, brings together volunteers on Green Souls’ organic farms at orphanages and hospitals across Mumbai. Addressing environmental, health, and community issues, Green Souls provides at-risk individuals with “access to healthy uncontaminated food, nature therapy, and life skills training.”

Mumbai-based artist Kiran Jangir sculpts eco-friendly garden Ganeshas, easily dissolvable in water, transforming from idol to nutrient-rich soil. While most idols produced in India are made of non-biodegradable materials like plaster, Jangir recognizes the importance of making eco-friendly art.

Mumbai Goes Green is the meeting place of Mumbai’s green movement. It sells the products of green entrepreneurs, specifically leaf composters and “square foot gardens” start-up kits, as well as offering custom-made rainwater harvesting and solar water heating systems.

What’s a city known for its urban agricultural revolution without a farmers’ market? Located at the Maharashta Nature Park and founded in 2010, Mumbai Organic Farmers’ Market brings together Mumbaikars looking to buy organic produce, support local farmers, maintain Mumbai’s heritage foods, and ensure the region’s biodiversity.

“Every little creature has a purpose and a role to play in the backyard ecology of your garden. The bugs on your plants are somebody else’s food,” said Anusha Babbar, founder of Under The Tree, in an interview in MumbaiMag. Under The Tree hosts a variety of workshops, including “Garden in a Bottle,” “Gardens for Butterflies,” and “Gardens by the Sea.”

Urban Leaves began in 2001, when Preeti Patil designed a garden on the terrace at the Mumbai Port Trust. Since then, the organization has spearheaded many urban garden projects, including the 2009 development of Mumbai’s first urban community farm situated in Maharashta Nature Park on a 37-square-meter (400-square-foot) concrete slab. This video showcases the many farming initiatives of Urban Leaves.