If you’re aware of how contaminated our fruits and vegetables are, there couldn’t be a better time to do something about what goes on your plate. Thanks to the chemical fertilisers and pesticides that are used uninhibitedly to mass-produce what we cook in our kitchens, our bodies are pumped full of toxins. That’s where Moumita Mukherjee comes in, the proprietor of GreenAqua, a company dedicated to teaching people the methods of natural farming – such as Aquaponics – to help them grow their own food.
Mukherjee, 41, has been practicing sustainable farming and conducting workshops for 3 years now, but got her company registered only 6 months ago. “I left my high-paying job as an MBA in the Marketing & IT industry, because I felt I needed to give back to the society,” she says.
She also mentions how important it is today for city-dwellers and urban farmers to have some basic knowledge about these new methods of growing food. “Whether it’s for a large-scale commercial purpose, or to try at home, aquaponics is a great way to boost farming and gardening practices,” Mukherjee states.
When we asked her what exactly aquaponics is, she said it’s a scientific method of farming where they mimic the nitrogen cycle between the fish, plants and the bacteria present in the natural ecosystem. “We basically raise fish in a water tank, and then use that water (which has waste and excretions produced by the farmed fish) to water the plants. The plants derive the nutrients from that waste, which is an all-natural way as opposed to loading them with chemicals to help them grow,” shares Mukherjee, an M.Sc in Zoology.
So, is it possible to practice aquaponics at home, we ask. “Of course, it is. If you have an aquarium at home, instead of throwing out the water, you can actually use it for watering your plants. It’s great organic manure for the plants. Whether it’s a balcony garden, a terrace garden, a window-garden, or a vertical garden, the water is nutrient-dense and can help grow leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, methi, many herbs and microgreens like a dream.”
The 6-hour workshop slated for 16 February in Pune will focus on stuff like the basics of sustainable farming, fundamentals of aquaponics and hydroponics, vertical and urban farming, checking the water quality and pH maintenance, judging the nutrients – with focus on parameters like nitrite and nitrate balance, system design and management and natural disease management.
It’s especially a great place for beginners to start. Alongside theoretical know-how, the participants of the workshop will also be taken to a demo-farm for the practicals. The participants will be given a demo on many different kinds of aquaponics farming, so that they can use that knowledge according to their suitability and needs.
The workshop is a great way to use your Sunday in learning something fun and productive. Mukherjee is dedicating all her time fully to this mission, after spending 13 long years in the corporate world. She says she couldn’t stress enough on eating clean and green, and can only hope to inspire people to join her on her journey of making sustainable and natural farming a part of our daily lives.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)