Wishing for a greener 2016!

As we have just stepped into 2016, here is a quick review of how things went for our little roof top farm (greens.farm) in 2015 and what is in the pipeline for 2016.

We entered into 2015 with the objective of starting  two or three small organic farming projects, that will reduce our dependency on commercially farmed vegetables, and to share our experiments through social media in an effort to encourage those around us to practice a greener lifestyle.

When I look back into 2015, I think we achieved only 25% or less of what we hoped for, but we are very very happy that we never lost our passion and kept moving  through some of the tougher times and busy schedule. Even more importantly, we stay resolved to continue this journey through 2016 with bigger but practical goals.

In 2015, we experimented quite a bit on aquaponics and now we run three systems of different sizes. We have some creative designs on paper that evolved through from learnings, especially around building systems for longer term plants. We tried to start an organic farm in a small piece of land, which didn’t fly due to a number of reasons, the primary one being the difficulty in getting electricity connection. We also brought chickens to the homestead for eggs, and still learning through how to take care of them.

I am not an experienced blogger but tried to share what I could. I am very encouraged to see the broad viewership of greens.farm in 2015 that spanned over 55 countries.

In 2016, god willing, we hope to take a leap forward. We want to implement the new aquaponic designs we have on paper, increasing efficiency and reducing maintenance. We also want to run the system off of solar than the grid. We want to revive the earlier “soil based” 🙂 organic farm project using solar energy. We want to take the social media activities into another level by launching a new website and have more useful content and posts. On the community side, we hope to experiment with establishing a couple of neighbourhood groups that would farm vegetables in a coordinated and shared fashion so that each family can focus on two or three crops in their backyard or rooftop.

Well, that’s good for now. Welcome 2016! While the world is busy complaining about the big problems you are bringing forth, we are excited that you are here and we got a plan for you for solving some small problems…

Happy and greener 2016! 🙂

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Welcome 2016!

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My journey into farming…

(this blog is same as the “About” page)

A couple of dozens of empty concrete pots on the roof top; a whole bunch of grow bags filled with high growing weeds that anytime may attract migratory birds; a large rooftop chicken enclosure that once enjoyed the presence of plenty of Japanese Quails; a large fibre fish tank that became our reserve water tank; a greenhouse on the roof top that now resembles a large torn green flag waving with the wind; a well thought-out mini chemical lab sufficient to cover the water testing needs of a midsize ornamental fish farm that is now part of our pseudo family museum; a whole host of books on farming that debates various farming methods but now enjoyed by bookworms (real ones); a large plastic basin in our front yard formerly known as our Guppy breeding research centre where Guppies are now extinct; and I interrupted my wife at this point and said, this time it is going to be different, trust me, this is the best of anything we have tried on farming so far. Forget about the veggie shop, you will soon be cooking fresh organic vegetables straight from our farm, above all it is not just me this time, it’s a team. Although the skeptical look on her face didn’t change, she asked, where is it going to be this time, on our rooftop? I grinned, I knew she is in… 🙂

Time has taught me that lack of perseverance and planning are bigger reasons for failed farming projects than pests or weeds or soil infertility. Anyone who has love for nature would love the beautiful sight of a lush green farm field, which often is misinterpreted as ones passion for farming. A successful farmer is deeply passionate about the act of farming, which includes the day-to-day challenges of dealing with the weeds, pests, unpredictable weather conditions and above all, staying afloat in the fluctuating market conditions. The sight of a ready to be harvested field is so attractive that it easily lures people into taking up farming projects without realizing the handwork and perseverance invested behind it. I have visited numerous farmers in India, Middle East and North America, and yet to hear a farmer say farming is easy, or at a minimum, say there is a predictable farming method that is guaranteed to work.

To introduce myself, I was born and brought up in the city of Kochi, on the southern tip of India. Lived the first ten years of my career as a technologist in the Middle East and US. Then the next ten years as an entrepreneur in IT and trading industries, that involved a lot travel. Currently I live in my hometown with my lovely wife and four wonderful boys.

Farming has been in my heart, may be from my childhood days of paddy farming at my grandma’s home. Ever since I returned back to Kochi, I have been involved in farming one way or another but so far it’s been a hobby than anything serious. I think I am done with the hobby phase, and ready to attempt make farming a side business or at a minimum to have a goal and work towards that.

I am starting with a simple near term goal, build a small organic farm that would provide sufficient vegetables for the family year around, hopefully as a team involving a few families. This leads to the new team project I referred to earlier.

More to come. Please share your comments, experiences and advises and stay tuned for the upcoming blogs and pictures…

Greenly yours,
Naazim 🙂