Software professional Sundeep Motamarri’s day starts early, beginning with a hike up the stairs to his terrace which is a cornucopia of green leafy vegetables and colourful flowers. Admittedly, he is one of the lucky ones to be able spread out his hobby over the entirety of his terrace at his home in Mehdipatnam.
For others like him who share a love for rooftop gardening, they are stymied by the lack of space living in apartments making do with the small areas they get in their balconies, and common terrace. Terrace gardening may not be a new concept, but it has been growing as a movement pretty consistently over the past decade, with working professionals also taking to it in a big way.
“As the numbers grew, another rooftop gardener Panthangi Rambabu and I decided to create a Facebook group ‘Inti Panta’ to exchange ideas and advice on the subject,” recalls Sundeep Motamarri who has been doing terrace gardening for 10 years now and has 200 pots of varying veggies and flora decorating the rooftop.
They began to post pictures of their tempting produce online, garnering appreciation and numbers to their group. As of today, close to 35,000 members are part of ‘Inti Panta’ comprising people from the city and other countries too.
For people like Sundeep, tending to his garden daily is a stressbuster — one that he looks forward to. “I grow almost all varieties of vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, palak, totakura, pappukura, menthi kura, nimma akulu, apart from all types of gourds. We also grow flowers which are used for offering in prayers,” says Sundeep. His family is so used to organic produce that his children can identify when a vegetable has been brought from the market and when it is home grown. “You can’t really beat that feeling of satisfaction. Also, veggies grown at home cook faster and are much tastier since they are all organic,” adds Sundeep who shares the excess produce with his neighbours and friends of his children.
Like him, other members of the group love to share their produce. ‘Inti Panta’ members also meet once in three months to exchange tips and the produce others may require. “This time, we are meeting at Our Sacred Space. Before the meeting, spreadsheets detailing seeds required by members and other produce are shared in the group. At the meeting, the names of sender and receiver are called out. All of it is free since nothing is bought from the market,” says Naganand Rayakanti, another member.
Having been an avid rooftop gardener for two-and-a-half years, Naganand had to take a break when his landlord told him to wrap up the garden. But, his green thumb led him to find another place where he now grows radishes, tomatoes and different greens that he shares wholeheartedly with his friends and family.
Between his video-editing gig and rooftop gardening, Naganand also spares time for workshops on composting, techniques to follow and rainwater harvesting. Hectic schedules notwithstanding, admins of ‘Inti Panta’ take turns moderating the group, so everyone gets some time off from the coordination.