Can Organic Kitchen Gardening avert an Urban Food Tragedy?

+1 -1 +14
Vote on this proposal

by Karan Manral on Thursday, December 26, 2013


Session type

Technical level


Our goal in this session is to propose a realistic model of food sufficiency for achieving access to quality food in urban India – by collectively creating the tools, knowledge-base and networks that can make it a reality.


Ask yourself :
Where are the vegetables that I eat coming from? Who grows them and how? And how many days old are they by the time that I consume it? The answer is likely to be anything from two to five days old – is that fresh enough for your fresh vegetables?
How much of pesticide use did you approve in your vegetables and fruits?
Every type of vegetable has hundreds or sometimes thousands of varieties. With so many different types of cabbage, how come our supermarkets don’t feature them? If there are so many varieties of tomatoes, how come we have access to only 2-3 varieties over the year? If the advantage of markets is choice, how come we just don't see CHOICE?

It is slowly becoming apparent that food systems in urban places requires a massive overhaul. After several experiments with farmers and on our own urban organic farm (, we have developed conceptual model that addresses the concerns associated with the current food system. This Alternative Food Network (AFN), looks at connecting organic kitchen gardeners, small farmers and customers, with the primary focus on quality of nutrient content of the food.

This talk will provide an insight into the conceptual model of AFN and particularly, emphasize on the role of the kitchen gardeners, as one of the main stakeholders of the network. Based on our research of examples of food sufficiency models (such as those in place in Cuba), we will share our experiences of urban food gardening: its successes, trials and tribulations.

In the end, this is an opportunity for you to learn through our experiences about what it means to enjoy farm-fresh meals, access to tastier varieties of ingredients and better health through active and informed food choices.



Speaker bio

In the past, Karan Manral has been involved with technology and media, including a stint as the editor of Digit and CHIP - India's most popular technology magazines.

Now, along with his wife Yogita, he is in the midst of a conversion to organic farming - as part of a change towards more sustainable living. Finding a way to improve access to better food has been their primary objective for the past 4 years.

Living in Goa for the past decade, they run a garden-cum-eco store ( and a small seasonal organic farm ( They also help local farmers groups get access markets (, conduct organic growing workshops for gardeners and help organise unusual food events like the Konkan Fruit Festival (