The driving force behind the Urban Mali Initiative is the need to spread gardens all over the city as soon as we can. Cities are the worst hit when it comes to the effects of climate change. As the city expands and more concrete structures come into being, temperatures rapidly rise causing effects such as increased precipitation and a change in micro-climates. Stopping climate change is too huge for us to deal with immediately, however, there are many ways in which the micro-climate of a space be made cooler.
Gardens are an accepted method by which the environment in cities can be made more bearable. While ArtyPlantz has been setting up gardens for a few years now, the scale at which we were able to impact people has been low. We wondered what we were doing wrong and set about on a small research project to answer some of our questions. We talked to a whole lot of people at gardens and nurseries in Bangalore. We learned that the best way to get a garden started is by contacting your friendly neighborhood mali. While all malis are equipped with wonderful know-how about plants and how to take care of them, they almost always don’t worry about buying exotic plants that requires a ton of pesticide to grow. From mexican grass and petunias, a range of exotic plants are available in almost all nurseries, along with chemicial pesticides and herbicides. Getting the malis to grow native plants without chemicals was the challenge that stared back at us.
That is how the Urban Mali Initiative came into being! Starting with our in-house gardener, Sudhakar, we began experimenting with how such a project can become successful. The response has been great and hence here we are planting away, hoping to create a “Living Herbarium” in the city enhancing urban ecology so we can live in harmony with the birds, butterflies, bees and all the other biodiversity a city has to offer.