With the increase of adulterants in local produce, citizens are resorting to the healthier alternative, i.e. organic farming. Arya Pudota makes it easier by demonstrating how to farm organically and imparts his knowledge through his rapidly growing initiative, ‘My Organic Farm’.
It was the end of 2011. Sixteen-year-old Arya and his mother reaped their first harvest from their own kitchen garden. In between helping his mother water the plants, remove weeds and plant seeds, Arya realised that he loved organic farming. He also understood the need for it since it paved the way for a healthier and sustainable lifestyle.
When he began organic farming, several neighbours and friends wanted to help him out but couldn’t. That made Arya realise that there existed a lack of awareness about organic farming. He decided to launch ‘My Organic Farm’, in 2014 — a green initiative, that propagates the importance of organic farming and its key role in sustainable agriculture.
“From 2011 till 2014, a lot of neighbours used to come home. They were really interested and willing to put in the effort and money but had no idea how to start organic farming. That’s when I realised that someone should take the step, bring them all together, and impart knowledge to people. So, I started a YouTube channel, ‘My Organic Farm’ where I put up a few videos,” says Arya.
Why organic farming?
According to Arya, the current agricultural methods used on a daily basis on agricultural farms are really flawed, in terms of long-term viability and sustainability of farming. A lot of pesticides and fertilisers have very debilitating effects in a biological ecosystem on the natural fertility of the soil. The consumption of inorganic fruits and vegetables adversely affects human beings causing tumours, cancers, and a variety of health issues.
The Grow Basic Kit
“The Grow Basic Kit was conceptualised before the summer of 2017. The idea came about three years ago when I put up my YouTube channel. I had quite a few people tell me they had seen my videos and were interested in starting organic farming at their home but they were unable to find the necessary raw materials,” says Arya.
The Grow Basic Kit is a starter pack for those who want to learn organic farming. It consists of a grow bag, a coco peat block, some fruit and vegetable seeds, and a neem fertiliser. It is competitively priced at Rs 149. This ingenious idea helps the customer since he/she needn’t bother to procure the resources individually and only requires to water the sapling every day.
The funds procured from various talks given by Arya to corporates and students were used for the Grow Basic Kit and other activities.
“The person doesn’t have to waste time, effort and energy trying to locate the sources for raw materials since we provide the required materials in the right quantity and the right proportions which are hard to get right the first time,” Arya says.
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‘My Organic Farm’ events
In 2015, ‘My Organic Farm’ organised several events to help save the environment. On World Environment Day, 2015, a thousand saplings were distributed to the walkers at Cubbon Park in order to spread the message of sustainable living and organic farming and make them experience how it was to grow their own food.
“I received recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme for the activity I conducted in Cubbon Park. I have been recognised by my community welfare association, the Bhuvanagiri Welfare Association for my initiatives in association with them. I have also been awarded the first place in Bengaluru for Green Apple Day of Service – India Award 2015 by the United States Green Building Council for the contribution I have made towards the environment,” says Arya.
With the help of the Karnataka Forest Department and the Telangana Forest Department, the saplings Arya obtained were subsidized and often free.
In 2016, there were three events held by this initiative. The first was in KBR Park, in Hyderabad, where 700 tree saplings of different varieties were given to the visitors to increase the green cover in Hyderabad. The event was sponsored by the Telangana Forest Department. The second drive was in Arya’s locality itself and the mission was to increase the number of trees in the community. He gave away around 400 trees to the residents of Banaswadi in Bengaluru. These trees were subsidised by the Karnataka Forest Department. He also created the first recreational garden and gave away saplings to his teachers at the National Public School, Indiranagar, Bengaluru. The final drive was conducted in association with Prafull Oorja at ED Venture Academy and other special needs schools where he worked with children with special needs and taught them a bit about farming practices.
He has worked with schools for the installation of vermicomposting setups for wet waste management in their campuses and conducted talks and drives at corporates to spread awareness.
Future plans of ‘My Organic Farming’
Empowered by the recognition and success that ‘My Organic Farm’ witnessed, Arya is all set to reach out to a larger audience. Till now, Arya has only been reaching out to the younger audience. However, he has now realised that a large number of people interested in organic farming are senior citizens who could make it a hobby for themselves.
“I have decided to work on a new planter box design which will be more user-friendly for older people. It will be 3x4 feet, waist-high, thus making it easier for them to water, weed out, and sow the seeds. It will fit into most balconies,” says Arya.
Since Arya is an Ashoka Youth Venturer, expanding his initiative wouldn’t be difficult since the Ashoka Foundation would be helping him out.
In the meantime, his green initiative will be promoting the Grow Basic Kit and propagating its message through its rapidly growing YouTube channel.
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