This year, Samhith was to take a break from all camps and classes – since we were travelling throughout May. A pleasant surprise came in the form of the Summer Camp for kids conducted by Urban Leaves. I had been following the Urban Leaves blog for a while, and was interested in their methods of creating terrace gardens in the midst of a busy city like Mumbai. While I am no good with gardening, and certainly have no green thumb, the idea of growing our own veggies in what little space we have does have its attractions, wouldn’t you agree? Especially when there are experts at hand to help out! And as it happened, the first batch of the camp coincided exactly with the dates we had free, and off we headed to Maharashtra Nature Park, Dharavi, for our introduction to Natueco Farming.
The first day, being a Sunday, was the day the Urban Leaves’ regular city farmers turned up at MNP to tend to their plants and the Amrut Mitti – the secret of the healthy plants we could see all around us! While Samhith turned out to be the only kid who turned up for the camp, he had a fantastic time with Julius who took him for a tour of the nature park and pointed out interesting plants and birds. They returned happily with Samhith excitedly carrying a cup he had made with a leaf, and containing a dead butterfly! Moreover, they had spotted a few cormorants near the pond, which excited Samhith no less!
Finding ourselves the sole attendees for a couple of days, we could choose our activities and while Julius helped Samhith make a self watering can – one which proudly holds a pair of spinach leaves which Samhith hopes to eat someday! The next day, we decided to change the venue, and Julius instead came to Chedda Nagar, where he took Samhith for a round, and noticed more interesting birds than we had seen so far! It was a pity that I chose not to accompany them…. I might have got some wonderful pics!
We missed a couple of days due to some unforeseen problems, but the day after brought a surprise in the form of Udbhav, another child from the same area who joined us – he shares the same date of birth as Samhith! In fact, as it turned out, the kids had been born just an hour apart, 8 years back, and they met on their birthday! Could there ever be such an interesting birthday gift ever?
After a bit more wandering around Chedda Nagar, we completed our summer camp at the place where we started – MNP, the following Sunday, with the whole group in attendance once again! This day was one of fun and work, for a new batch of Amrut Mitti was in progress for a film being made on the group and the methods of Urban Farming. While I took the opportunity to explore the nature park in company with Udbhav’s mom, Samhith and Udbhav collected more leaves and learnt some interesting poems from Julius. They both did help out too, collecting dry leaves for mulching and even giving a hand in the making of the Amrut Mitti.
We called an end to the eventful week with a pot luck breakfast – everyone had brought food, from idlis and samosas to figs and theplas. I had taken a cake along, and we all gorged on the food, hungry after all the work. The summer camp is over and I am headed out of town tonight, but there is so much to look forward to – we shall definitely be joining the City Farmers at Urban Leaves when we get back, hopefully starting a small garden of our own!
Many of you must be wondering what Samhith thought of the camp. He is still hesitant to put his thoughts into words, and with the IPL matches in full swing, there is no likelihood of his sitting down long enough to write something coherent about his thoughts, but you can go over to his section of this blog – The Junior Wanderer – to see what he did put down! Or Click here or on the image below to see his contribution..