Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Urban gardening-Ever possible in India?

Lot has been said, written and debated about urban gardening which is being encouraged in countries like Canada and the United States. Recently in the US state of California where urban lands are available which are not being used for building houses, incentives are being offered to encourage owners to lease them out to potential "farmers" to cultivate food crops. Specifically in the city of Los Angeles the city council has plans to allow gardening on plots of sizes varying from 0.1 acre to 3 acres to be leased out by giving the owners tax incentives in return. This trend is visible across the country and can be a win-win situation for the stake holders involved like the owners, lessees, consumers, local governments and the nation as a whole. In the US there is a peculiar situation where large tracts of land are lying vacant for the last several years after the migration of city folks to well designed communities out side the urban core areas. These vacated land plots are not being utilized and since they are substantial in terms of total acreage, schemes like the above may work to the advantage of all concerned. Here is a take on this landmark changes taking place in these countries. .  

"There are thousands of vacant, unproductive lots throughout Los Angeles," said Fuentes, who represents the 7th District, which covers the Northeast Valley. "By converting empty parcels into urban farms, we can encourage local economic development, green our communities and provide produce in neighborhoods that lack access to fresh foods." Last year, the state Legislature approved the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, which authorized a tax adjustment for private property owners who lease land for commercial or noncommercial agriculture use for at least five years. The council members want that law implemented locally. In Los Angeles, parcels would be eligible for the tax break if they are between 0.10 and 3 acres in size, dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry, free of dwellings not intended for agriculture or educational purposes, and located within a zone that allows for agricultural use. The Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates that 8,600 parcels in Los Angeles would be eligible. Price, whose 9th District seat represents South L.A., said the motion would benefit residents in low-income areas like the one he serves. "Representing a food desert community, I understand firsthand the need to expand food options for our residents, Price said. "This action will help us transform underused and blighted plots of land that often attract crime into thriving green spaces, encouraging green enterprises and helping us improve the look and feel of our neighborhoods."

Sustainable environment is a compulsion to day because of rapid destruction of nature by indiscriminate industrialization and modern living style of population guzzling non-renewable fossil fuels. More than ever man is getting more and more concerned about the fate of future generations in an exhausted and unlivable world. Urban gardening and local food movements fit into the wheel of changes which yearn for a more livable and healthy world. Though WTO regime wants to make global trade hassle free with no hindrance, fact still remains that long distance haulage of food and other materials contribute enormously to global warming and the consequent undesirable changes. In India urban gardening may have limited impact as most cities are starved of the most critical input viz, water. No city in this country can assure its citizens that the water supplied to its them are safe for consumption and no city supplies adequate water sufficient even to carry out daily activities of its residents. Under these circumstances how can any urbanite ever think of sparing water to raise a garden? Of course there are sporadic reports from some small towns that individuals having their own wells are raising gardens for vegetables on available space around and on top of their houses. But to imagine this will become a significant part of our landscape may be unrealistic.


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