At a time when urban kids struggle with even eating healthy, a class 12 student of National Public School in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar runs his own organic farm and has inspired thousands of urban residents through his YouTube channel.
Arya Pudota, who is going to turn 17 in July, started his journey six years ago when he was just 10 and saw his mother farming on a plot of land next to their house. Arya started with little things like watering the plants or cleaning the weeds and slowly grew interested in full-fledged farming.
Within a few years, Arya took up the lead role to look after the farm and became an expert in farming.
He would also visit his grand uncle’s farm near Hyderabad and gather tips to improve.
“My grandparents were farmers, so basically I belong to the farmer community,” he smiles. “My grandmother constantly guided me with all the knowledge she had about farming too,” he adds.
Arya started growing almost all seasonal vegetables on this 4,000 sqft. land, gaining the attraction of his neighbours.
People loved the organic veggies and few would also try to help Arya at his farm. However, Arya sensed the disconnect urban people had with farming.
“Most of them genuinely wanted to help with the farm work, but had no clue about farming. As I gained more knowledge about the practice of organic farming, I realized how important it was for more people to be aware of the key role organic farming played in sustainable agriculture. So I decided to take this initiative forward,” Arya tells TBI.
He started a YouTube channel called ‘My Organic Farm’ and posted step-by-step videos on organic farming and waste management for beginners.
The channel was very successful in its outreach, garnering more than 2,000 subscribers, 100,000 views from across 170 countries. Arya responds to viewers’ questions by practically showcasing answers through more videos. His tutorial videos cover everything — right from selecting soil to preparing a bed for mushrooms in limited spaces like a small balcony.
Along with the YouTube channel, he also blogs about all the activities involved in organic farming on his website.
“I am also helping few schools set up organic farms and teaching them about organic composting and solid waste management so that they can teach the same to their students,” says Arya, who is the Secretary of the Environment/Social Service Club (SEWA) in his school.
Arya has also worked with several schools to help them in the installation of vermi-composting units for wet waste management in their campuses. He has also conducted talks and drives at corporate houses to spread awareness.
To go further and encourage people to grow their own veggies, Arya distributed 1,000 organically grown hybrid Arka Rakshak tomato plants free of cost to morning walkers in Cubbon Park on June 6, 2015, on the occasion of World Environment Day.
What’s more, this youngster has received recognition from the United Nations Environment Program for this activity. He has also been awarded the 1st place in Bangalore for Green Apple Day of Service – India Award 2015 by the United States Green Building Council for the contributions he has made towards the environment.
“Many of them posted the pictures of the tomatoes that grew on the plant that we gifted them. The satisfaction of growing their food for the first time could be seen. That was such a wonderful feeling,” he says.
In 2016, Arya held three events. The first was in KBR Park in Hyderabad, where he gave away close to 700 tree saplings of different varieties to visitors.
The event was sponsored by the Telangana Forest Department. The second drive was in his locality and the mission was to increase the number of trees in the community. Arya gave away around 400 saplingsto the residents of Banaswadi in Bangalore. These trees were subsidized by the Karnataka Forest Department. The 16-year-old has also created the first recreational garden and given away saplings to teachers at his school. The recent drive was conducted in association with Prafull Oorja at ED Venture Academy and other special needs schools where he worked with special needs children and taught them about farming practices.
Videos on his YouTube channel for the past two-and-a-half years have received many responses from people who have said that it has been very difficult for them to source the materials to start their organic farming practice. Other problems included lack of nearby gardening stores and nurseries, which could offer manageable quantities of the necessary items at a competitive price-point, and, of course, a busy time schedule that prevented many from going out to get the necessary items.
Keeping all these factors in mind, he decided to create an organic farming kit and called it GrowBasic.
He has launched it on the occasion of World Environment Day this year. According to Arya, GrowBasic is a one-stop solution that contains all the necessary raw material required to start a basic organic farm at home. It’s easy to use, and can be used by children as young as four, he says. The kit consists of a grow bag, a coco peat block, neem fertilizer and some vegetable seeds. The procedure to be followed for using the product has been detailed on a YouTube video uploaded on his channel.
The kit costs just Rs. 149 and will be available on Amazon soon.
“We expect one of the major customers for these grow kits to be educational institutes and corporates, who may want to use these kits as methods of educating their students/employees about organic farming and agriculture. We plan to offer these kits to these organizations at a subsidized rate. It’s also a really great return gift to give out for celebratory functions and events. It is also a good way to keep kids away from electronic devices by offering them a fun outdoor activity, besides being a great educational tool. Another plus point is that kids would have a sense of accomplishment because of growing their own produce,” explains Arya.
Arya says that GrowBasic aims to provide a basic introduction to the world of organic farming and he wants people to graduate to larger patches for their organic farming after some practice with this kit.
Arya is also an avid reader and loves playing video games and taking part in debates. A trained yoga instructor, he also takes out time to teach yoga to special needs children. His day starts at 5:30 am and he chalks out a time table for each day to keep balance between his studies and other activities. But he makes sure to spend at least an hour and a half in his farm everyday.
To buy the kit or to know more about organic farming you can visit www.myorganicfarm.net or send a WhatsAppmessage to 8884642488.