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Bhargavi Bijjam, The Urban Farmer Who Grows Her Own Food in Hyderabad

Talking to Biz InningsBhargavi Bijjam shares her experience and love towards Composting, Green Campaigning and Urban farming.

At a Glance

Bhargavi Bijjam is a passionate environment campaigner, composting expert and urban farmer. She grows food organically at home, by composting kitchen waste. She loves her earthworms who do the job for her. She is currently working with GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) on spreading awareness on household waste segregation.

Rather than focusing on the problem, her talks are centred around the direct benefits that the audience can get from waste segregation, like growing own organic vegetables and fruits at home, by teaching simple ways to compost, which generates interest in her audience and motivates them to practice proper waste segregation. This, in turn, addresses the larger issue of landfills.

Edited excerpts

What’s this solid waste management is all about? how to do it exactly?

Solid Waste Management is adopting localized waste management for sustainable living. Mandating segregation at source,  waste stream, destination-based collection & transportation, Promoting waste to compost/gas/recycle, not ‘burn the waste’, minimising the landfill dumping, phasing out non-recyclable products and packaging and move towards sustainable options are few best practices that can be adopted.

Before getting into further details, let the world know the damage happening to the earth by land fillings?

Hyderabad alone generates 5200 MT of trash every single day that is sent to landfills. We take out our trash and feel lighter and cleaner. But at the landfill, the mixed waste is decomposing and releasing leachate that goes under polluting the groundwater and also releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also contributes to smog, worsening health problems like asthma. I have heard people saying, the landfill is far away so I am safe! Did u forget how fast the air travels? We are never far.

What motivated you towards home gardening and composting? and how long you have been doing this?

The way I was brought up by my parents and grandparents have influenced me a lot in gardening since childhood and also made me conscious about wastage .. When u learn something that has potential to help the larger community, you just feel driven to share it. You can see that 80 % of the waste you generate is actually ‘not waste’! This is where a whole new chapter of the composting journey began

How did you educate/train yourself to be able to experiment on new composting and gardening techniques?

The first time I composted, it was a stinking mess. But I didn’t give up – I wanted to know what it was that I had done wrong. I finally figured it out and started doing various types of composting. Facebook group called INTIPANTA organic kitchen/terrace garden has helped me to learn more tips and tricks towards gardening with their concept of visiting home gardeners homes once in a while.  I am glad I am part of the core team now and the group is now 40k strong.

Where are you currently having your garden? and what kind of efforts goes into it to be able to grow your own food?

I used to have a terrace garden until last year and now we have moved to an independent house and lucky enough to have space to grow more. I follow Permaculture, which makes gardening maintenance free. you basically sync with nature to grow food in permaculture. basics. Though I am not certified, I am glad I could find some useful tutorials to learn the basics.

Although it sounds cool to grow our own food, is it practically possible to dedicate such time out of busy urban lives?

Some things are better experienced, than told :).. But yeah, Home Grown are the safest and tastiest than anything u could ever buy. Our lives are so busy earning money. of course, you need money to get good food. Trust me, there is no good food in the market. The only way you can consume good food is to grow by yourself. start small. learn from mistakes and you will experience the great journey.

The average living space of a middle-class family in cites is about 900 to 1000 sqft, how can one manage to grow their own food in such small places?

For people who complain about space can check my FB profile(Bhargavi Bijjam) where I have grown some greens in soap cases, ketchup cans etc.

What is the best way to start home gardening, what food you suggest is easy to grow at home?

Leafy greens. They are easy to grow in the shade too. you can use any old containers from your kitchen and they can grow happily.

I guess you are also associated with GHMC and many other green campaigners and corporates in spreading waste segregation awareness, how is it going?

Yes. I am a part of GHMC Saaf Hyderabad Shandaar Hyderabad campaign. Campaigns lead to social change. We recognized that behavioural change is critical for the adoption of good solid waste management practices. Our Campaigns have been designed to influence and lead to movements which create a large scale adoption of good practices. Campaigns soft-peddle the Policy and Rules implementation through building voluntary engagement, information dissemination and large scale adoption.

Well, it’s a pleasure interacting with one of the very few green ambassadors like you, wish you all the very best.

Thank you.

By Chaitanya Gundluri

Chaitanya Gundluri is a Serial Entrepreneur, Business Investor, Interviewer, Passionate Marketer, Business Blogger and an Influential Sales Leader.

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