Rooftop gardening picks up pace in Rawalpindi

ISLAMABAD: Housewife Beenish Awan is now less worried about buying vegetables from the market as she has developed an alternative vegetable garden on the roof of her residence in the Bagh Sardaran area of ​​Rawalpindi.

She has been practicing vertical market gardening on the terrace of her five-marla house for three years now.

Rooftop gardening is no longer for aesthetic purposes and in urban areas people use the terraces of their houses to grow vegetables or raise chickens and other domestic animals to supplement their dietary needs and reduce the budget. from the kitchen.

The history of rooftop gardens goes back thousands of years. Initially, these gardens were built for aesthetic purposes only, but over time when urban growth increased, people began to use the roofs of their houses for gardening with the dual benefit of having a serene look and magnificent of their terraces and at the same time to meet their needs. daily needs in addition to effective cost reduction.

A growing trend

Ms Awan is not the only one gardening on rooftops as dozens of other families in different localities in Rawalpindi do so and grow organic vegetables on the terraces of their residences, Development Authority Chairman informed from Rawalpindi (RDA) Tariq Mahmood Murtaza who introduced supports for vertical vegetable gardens. market gardening in collaboration with a Turkish NGO which had provided them with 50 supports for the vertical planting of vegetables and small plants on the roofs of houses.

Talk to News Bowl at his office, the RDA President informed that they had engaged Behbud, an NGO involved in providing small loans and other assistance to poor families, and contacted some 50 poor families who had expressed interest in the rooftop gardening.

Interested families received basic training from GDR gardeners and for the first time helped them grow vegetables on the roofs of their homes. “Now they grow vegetables themselves and also share the photographs of their terrace gardens with them,” Murtaza said.

Later, the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TICA) provided them with another 300 stalls which were also given away free of charge to deserving families.

Cheaper, better taste

Mrs. Awan, while talking to this writer, said that she had not bought any vegetables from the market for the past few months.

When asked, she replied that rooftop gardening saved them about Rs 2,500-3,000 per month, which she considered a great relief for their family. And what’s more, the taste of fresh organic vegetables is much better than the vegetables available in the market, she added.

She said that at first RDA provided them with the seeds of various vegetables but later they had to buy them from Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Islamabad, both for summer and winter vegetables. .

In winter we grow turnip, radish, tomato, coriander, mint, cabbage and cauliflower while in summer we plant bell pepper, chili peppers, bitter gourd, eggplant, pumpkin, etc. Some vegetables like mint and tomatoes can be grown in both seasons, she also informed.

The lady said she got the first stand from the GDR for free, but when she discovered the benefits of rooftop gardening, they bought two more such frames for vertical planting of vegetables.

“We planted a Chinese lemon tree in a clay pot and after a year it bears fruit,” she said.

Giving details of future plans, RDA President Tariq Mahmood Murtaza informed that given the extraordinary interest shown by middle class and lower middle class people residing in the city center , they decided to expand the plan but now they would not provide the stands for vertical planting for free and would give them the same in easy installments. For this, they hired Akhuwat, an organization offering small, low-interest loans to the poor to start their own business.

He also informed that they would provide some 1,000 stalls for which interested people would register with Akhuwat who would pay the amount of the stalls and get his money back in easy installments.

Responding to a question, he said the response was overwhelming and the registration process would be completed within the next few weeks. Hopefully they would provide them with the stands before the summer vegetables are sown.

Terri S. Tomasini