Friday, December 11, 2020

How Vegetable Gardening is Helping Slum Families tide through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Key messages: Home vegetable gardening promoted by provision of seeds is helping families use tomatoes, brinjals, pumpkins, beans growing in their small slum houses. In 2020 the distribution of seeds was increased from 900 (in 2019) to 1200 families. Since April 2020, during COVID19, sharing of surplus harvest with neighbours is helping over 70000 slum dwellers surmount food insecurity in the #hardtimes. 

UHRC has been promoting vegetable gardening since past five years in slum households in Indore. Seeds are provided by UHRC social facilitators. Facilitators motivate families to tend plants as they grow. Basti (slum) families grew beans, bottle gourds, round gourds, sponge gourds, tomatoes, brinjals, small green peppers, and pumpkins in small spaces and broken buckets. Creepers also helped surmount space constraint. They were motivated, overcome space constraints of small slum houses and enhanced confidence to nurture household vegetable gardens. Diffusion of innovation happened with #earlyadopter families encouraging other families in a demonstration of collective wisdom resulting in efforts of broader benefit.

Bast (slum) families were practicing vegetable gardening were able to avail benefits of their produce during COVID-19 which ravaged livelihoods and savings of many slum dwellers. In 2019 to 2020, 900 families grew 60000 kilogram vegetables. Families were able to cook vegetables which they grew such as bottle guard, tomatoes, cauliflower, brinjals etc. This approach served as lifeline helping many families tide through the acute crisis during the May-July 2020 lockdown and continues to help many families who as they wade through uncertain livelihoods and exhausted savings. 1100 families are sharing their produce with neighbors setting examples of #solidaritynetworks, promoting a sense of psychological well-being and accomplishment crucial to the well-being of urban vulnerable population. During the COVID-19 challenging times in 2020-21, vegetable gardening is helping about 70,000 disadvantaged families surmount nutrition and food insecurity in the hard times.

During 2020, UHRC has increased the distribution of seeds from 900 (in 2019) to 1200 families in 2020. 

Home vegetable gardening in bastis (slums) demonstrates an approach of local resilience promoting food security and inclusive urbanization. Home gardening, a constituent of urban agriculture has the potential to foster crucial elements of healthier, more sustainable cities. This is helping during #COVID-19, and can be helpful in non-COVID times as well. Growing vegetables in small basti (slum) houses is a strategy towards SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG2 (tackle undernutrition and hunger)


Despite each home garden being small, these have the potential to mitigate carbon emissions a key #climatechange challenge affecting the world. Vegetable plants release oxygen, sequester carbon in the soil, and reduce atmospheric carbon. They also contribute to the cooling effect in urban spaces. 

Home-grown vegetables save valuable family income through the provision of vegetables for the family’s consumption. Growing vegetables despite small spaces and sharing with neighbors promote a sense of psychological well-being, accomplishment, and enhances social cooperation all crucial to the well-being of vulnerable city populations. This strategy of motivating slum families has the potential of replication or adaptation in cities of India and other LMICs.

Siddharth Agarwal, Neeraj Verma, Shabnam Verma, Kailash Vishwakarma, Kanupriya Kothiwal
Urban Health Resource Centre, Indore


  1. Siddharth Agarwal ji, you are really a great job while helping the needy people to lead their life with the available resources and teaching them to earn with this great "Home Gardening" kind of work. I will surely share with our FISA members. Keep up doing the good work being a helping hand to them. Thanks

  2. "You are doping really a great job" sorry for typo

  3. That is one good deed that will keep giving for years....I would love to get seeds for some more households sponsored this year. Let's speak soon Siddharth and Thanks for doing all that you do to make this world a better place.

  4. This is an amazing group who continue to find ways to give even in times when they aren't expected to. Thank you for supporting the community and strengthening bonds within!

  5. This is such an admirable and impactful initiative by UHRC. The joy of growing and harvesting produce and becoming self-reliant for food goes a long way in ensuring both physical and mental health. Truly an idea that starts by strengthening the "roots".

  6. Wonderful initiative.
    Thanks for motivating and equipping them in a natural,intrinsic manner that is both sustainable and environmental friendly
    Such community participation leads to positive attitudes and a general sense of well being amongst all involved in the project and often innovative ideas emerge.
    More power to community leaders like you and the org that supports such initiatives

  7. Great to see this happening. A small bit of positive news amid all the troubles

  8. Thrilled to be a part of this initiative and seek this important learning - "always trust the communities you are working with as they know best what works for them"

  9. Dear Sidharthji,

    This is a awesome initiatives! Keeps spreading happiness!

  10. अवश्य ही यह एक अत्यंत महत्त्वपूर्ण और उदार लोक-कल्याण का व्यापक सेवा प्रकल्प है जो सराहनीय भी है और सेवा सहभागिता का सच्चा पात्र है| इसके आयोजक अभिनंदनीय हैं| देश के आधारभूत स्तर पर ऐसे सेवामूलक कार्य सरकारी दस्तावेजों में दबे विशाल कार्यों से ज़्यादा उपयोगी हैं|

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  12. Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person. Your organization is doing excellent work. We also run an NGO by the name of Roti bank. It collects food from parties and marriages and restaurants and distributes it to the slums, and needy people.

    Roti Bank

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