The needs of a home gardener vis-a-vis a commercial farmer are quite different. Whereas a commercial farmer will most likely be growing only one variety of crop, a home gardener will be looking at growing multiple different varieties to ensure a consistent supply of kitchen essentials from the garden. Not only this, even the objective, the tools used, the expertise required, and the methodology applied will differ for both. Consider following:-
A commercial farmer grows crops to sell them and make money. Thus the parameters most important to them are higher yields, quicker turnaround times and marketability of produce. A home gardener, however, grows food for their consumption. Thus, the factor that takes prominence over anything else is whether the food that is produced is safe and healthy.
A home gardener is a jack of all trades, she will know a bit about most of the crops and plants. A commercial farmer, however, needs to be a master of her trade. If she grows tomatoes, she should be the best expert on tomatoes in the town to produce the best crop that can fetch a premium price.
Contrary to what one may think, the task of pest management is much more complicated for a home gardener than for a commercial grower. That is primarily because of two reasons
- A commercial grower would not mind using the most extreme and dangerous methods (read pesticides) to get rid of pests as her end goal is to produce the crop and sell it. A home grower, on the other hand, will try all home remedies and instead discard the produce than use pesticides
- A commercial grower will need to deal with only a few varieties of pests, the ones that impact the crop she is growing. A home gardener, however, will have to deal with a complex ecosystem of multiple pests and their interactions
Access to knowledge/support system:
Most of the commercial farming activity happens in a belt. There would be an onion growing belt, a belt to grow tomatoes, a belt that is conducive to potatoes and so on. A support system develops around such a belt since there are multiple farmers with allied interests trying to grow the same crop. There is a lot of co-learning and expert help available if something goes wrong.
For a home gardener, the best form of support is in the form of the friendly neighborhood nursery guy. While that would suffice for someone to get started, often, that guy may not have solutions to all the problems that may come up during the crop cycle.
While most of the commercial farmers are now beginning to use advanced tools and technologies to improve the yields and optimize the resources, most home gardeners are using the basic rudimentary techniques of gardening which, though are right, may offer suboptimal returns.
It is to support this home growing community that CityGreens is setting up an Urban Farming Research Centre to experiment with and develop technologies and practices that will be most suited to the needs of home gardeners. Since most home gardeners manage their gardens on their terraces or balconies, we are setting this up on a rooftop to make sure that the experiments are carries under similar conditions and results are easily transferable.
The construction work has started, and the center will be up and running in a few week’s time. We will keep you posted with timely updates. Hope, through this center, we will be able to create experiments and generate knowledge that will be of use to home gardeners.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.