Authors: Vedashree Patankar & Deepa Soman
Meet Torchbearers, Wirra Creado and Anagha Bhilare
Wirra, a mum and working corporate professional was detected with a tumor in the eye in early 2014 and was asked to incorporate wheatgrass into her diet. She could not purchase it easily. That’s when her friend taught her how to grow wheatgrass at home. Wirra did more research and started growing various microgreens at home as they more nutritious than the food that was being bought from the supermarket. Wirra was inspired and wondered, “Why aren’t we incorporating these greens in our daily diet?”
Anagha, grew up growing greens in her backyard with her grandmother during the summer holidays. A chemical engineer by education, she had just started her stint at Ernst & Young as an auditor. She worked for what seemed like a long time (“8 months”, she says with a chuckle”), but her heart was not in it. She packed her bags and went back home to her town, Bhilar, near Panchgani. She took a year to explore where her interests lay, when her father’s friend told her about microgreens. Bitten by the bug, she started experimenting and growing many varieties of greens at home. “I ordered containers, coco peat and every variety of seed and planted 10 each of every variety. Our dining table became my garden and my mother was fed up of me“, says Anagha.
Both women were looking for a community to connect with, to grow with. They met serendipitously through a common friend and Anagha did a month-long course with Wirra, when Wirra took her under her wings and mentored her. Through experimentation and sharing of knowledge “Grains to Greens” was born in 2016.
What is Grains to Greens?
It’s a urban micro farming company that envisions a green future
How do they promote and sustain their mission?
Wirra got in touch with her network and was able to get a small space near Don Bosco School in Wadala, Mumbai to start their urban farm. Apart from the farm, they partner with schools and collaborate with teachers to teach children everything from germination to transplanting. Kids as young as Junior and Senior KG going up to Class 10 are welcome to join and the curriculum is built grade wise and age-wise.
Inculcating a love for nature
The first question Wirra and Anagha ask the kids is “Where does your food come from?”. Many urban children do not know food grows from the ground. They are unaware of the time, effort and uncertainty of a successful yield. As they start introducing the topics, the children become more curious and start taking an interest. The initial fear of soil and earthworms is replaced by a love for nature. The change process has set in.
Anagha and Wirra have seen children articulate the benefits of micro greens by drawing the parallel between children and adults. “Just as kids have more energy than adults, the same way micro greens are more nutritious and packed with nutrients”, said one child.
Wirra and Anagha say they love working with the kids, watching their mindset change. They say the kids start to become more patient and disciplined individuals while growing their micro greens.
Growing these teaches the kids delayed gratification as the fruits of their labor would not be reaped by them but by others. The learn about getting the satisfaction of doing something for others.
The lockdown brought its own set of challenges as well as opportunities. Anagha says she misses the children but the time available helped them create a “Grow Kit” – its a non-plastic colorful child friendly kit to grow microgreens anywhere – even on the study table. The kit contains a seed pack, a growing guide and a grow media. It encourages children and parents to experiment and grow something on their own.
The question that Wirra started out with, which was how can we incorporate these into our daily diets is now answered. The microgreens are 40 times more nutritious than the vegetable. They want the younger generation to learn and make growing their own food a habit and a lifestyle.
Their call for action is “Don’t be hesitant to grow, try something different it will enrich your life”
The “Grains to Greens” initiative makes urban gardening accessible and fun.
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