In the heart of Dallu,
a bustling neighborhood in Kathmandu, resides a visionary who has transformed
rooftops into thriving gardens and communities into self-sufficient ecosystems.
Shekha Narayan Maharajan, a name synonymous with innovation and sustainable
living, has become a beacon of inspiration for urban farmers across Nepal.
Shekha's journey began
humbly, as a gardener tending to the earth's bounty. Through perseverance and a
thirst for knowledge, he found himself at the crossroads of opportunity—a
training program that would change his life forever. From a gardener to this
starting point, Shekha's path unfolded, leading him to Bhutan as a waste
management and compost trainer. This was the catalyst that ignited his passion
for transforming urban spaces.
More than two decades ago, Shekha's pioneering spirit led him to experiment with rooftop farming at his own home. Today, his dwelling stands as a testament to his innovation, providing an impressive 70% of the vegetable and fruit needs for his family of four or five. This feat isn't just about sustenance; it's about sustainability. Shekha's rooftop garden showcases the immense potential of urban farming to address food security and environmental challenges.
Benefits Beyond Bounds
Shekha's work goes beyond personal benefits. As land in urban areas becomes scarcer and pricier, rooftop farming emerges as a viable alternative. He extols the virtues of this practice: self-sufficiency, organic produce, low cost, fresh oxygen supply, giving back to nature and waste management. With his guidance, communities can turn their rooftops into green havens, contributing to healthier lives and a healthier planet.
Innovative Techniques for Urban Eden
Shekha doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk, sharing his innovative techniques with enthusiasm. One such method involves reuse of plastic bottles to create insect trap by making small holes around the plastic bottles suspending aromatic fruits like papaya, mango, pumpkin etc and placing soap water at the bottle's base which effectively traps fruit flies, ensuring the garden thrives without infestations.
Another amazing innovative work on rooftop farming - creating a small field like structure on roof without leakage clears one of the arising question; “How to do rooftop farming without leakage problem?” He using his innovative mind first place plastic on the floor of roof and established a pipe drainage system which drains the water out through the holes he made in the structure preventing leakage. Also, he did water proofing of the roof which adds major benefit. Similarly, to prevent the load on the house he made the mixture of cowpit, cocopit and soil about six inch in height in the rooftop farming. “Go Green” is the motto of his work.
He also champions herbal solutions, concocting natural pesticides from garlic, lemon grass, basil leaves, and a dash of soap. This holistic approach extends to recycling and waste management, as he enlightens us on converting home waste into compost, vermicompost and reusing plastic materials creatively. According to him, nothing is a waste when one started doing rooftop farming.
Shekha's wisdom extends to the very soil he cultivates. He advocates for a mix of cow-pit and soil, promoting not only plant growth but also roof longevity. His knowledge encompasses using cow urine as a natural alternative to conventional fertilizers. He wants to deliver the importance of cow-pit for rooftop farming saying, cow-pit is as light as coco-pit but using cow-pit do not require additional nutrient supply while coco-pit do.
Yet, Shekha's most powerful message is his unwavering belief in organic methods. He rallies against chemical pesticides, encouraging individuals and communities to embrace organic alternatives as he himself use no chemical fertilizers. His is a vision where farms are vibrant, eco-friendly havens that foster harmony with nature.
Spreading Green Dreams
Beyond his own achievements, Shekha has empowered his community. He imparts his wisdom through training aspiring urban farmers and spreads his green gospel. Through workshops in schools and awareness programs across Nepal, his influence ripples far and wide, inspiring a movement towards greener, more sustainable living.
Conclusion: A Legacy of Growth
Shekha Narayan Maharajan's journey is a testament to the transformative power of determination, knowledge and passion. From a gardener to a rooftop farming pioneer, he has redefined what's possible in urban landscapes. His methods and ideas not only bear fruit but also inspire a profound shift towards environmentally conscious living.
(The author is pursuing an Msc in agriculture from TU)