Trackside Farming in Mumbai
In early 2013 Dutch photographer Henk Wildschut visited Mumbai, the largest city in India and one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. According to The Economist, the average living space per person is 4.5 meters. Not much space for living, and even less for growing food! Whilst riding on the train, Wildschut was surprised to discover food gardens flanking the tracks. They were the best examples of urban farming he had seen. So, being a photographer, he photographed them.
To Wildschut, the train-track gardens are a celebration of innovation and creativity, and a means to an end. He suggests that in the west our edible gardens, whilst raising awareness of the food system, can sometimes feel like a fashion statement. There is absolutely nothing fashionable about these gardens in Mumbai- they exist purely as a necessity.
We grow plants because we have to eat. If we don’t eat we die. There is nothing sexy about this. Sometimes we tend to over complicate the story, because we have the luxury of doing so. But in Mumbai, alongside the train-tracks there are gardens because there need to be gardens. Its simple.
Yes, the vegetables are grown locally, yes they could be organic, heirloom varieties, no there is nothing industrial about the production. You could meet the grower if you wanted. If these veggies were sold at a farmers market in Sydney or Melbourne they would be ticking all the right boxes. However, these train-track farmers in Mumbai are just doing what they need to do to survive. No buzzwords. Just food. This is worthy of celebration.