When the Grow Your Food initiative began in 2015, just 150 people entered with kitchen gardens. The number of private schools has also increased, from 20 to 55, while 15 companies are also involved.
Beside urging communities to grow their ingredients, campaign bosses also run contests for residents, schools, government departments and corporates to identify creative uses of space, healthy ways of growing and water use.
Shugufta Zubair, senior food safety awareness support officer, said a reduction in food waste in school canteens had been a particular achievement of the campaign.
“This was achieved by installing ‘bokashi bin’ systems. This system converted food waste into natural fertilisers used for growing crops. It reduced food wastage by 30-40% in schools,” she said.
As many as 114 varieties of crops, including rare ones such as white chillies, have been grown by schools and residents.
More than 3 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have so far grown by schools, Zubair added. Of this, some 200kg has been sold to the community at special markets.
Schools have cultivated some 3.5 acres of land, while balcony and villa garden sizes range from 1.5m x 1.2m to 1,500 square feet.
“The participants also used sustainable techniques and recycling methods. There was an increase of 45% in the rate of hydroponics used by participating schools and residents, while many used drip irrigation techniques.”
“Some schools set up green houses and vertical gardens. Others made best use of water by recycling liquids used for ablution and from air conditioners,” added Zubai.
Natural pesticides made from neem and other natural ingredients, and egg shells formulated as nutrients, have also been used for organic farming.