Our Planeteer series looks at people who are doing something to lessen the impact on the planet through changes in their lifestyle or by spreading awareness and educating others.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
Most people would want to get their hands on a plot of land to construct a building on it or slap some concrete on it. But not Varun Lulla. All he wants is to do is to turn it into a garden – and certainly not the manicured kind where you are not allowed to step on the grass. This wild 26-year-old, not your typical farmer or gardener, believes that if started correctly, gardens will take care of themselves.
We ran into Varun at The Farmers’ Market in Mumbai where he is officially “in charge of funds” and telling people about his organization Ecocentric.in, (the portal will be launched soon). He has also contributed to The Farmers’ Market by bringing in the musicians, hammocks and a pedal powered water pump cycle. “At the stall I am offering all kinds of crazy workshops based on my research on things people may be interested in.” This includes workshops on how to make a remote-controlled solar airplane, a geodesic dome (a structure that uses minimal material and gives maximum insulation and energy), pedal-powered devices (like a bicycle that can run a pump or a juicer), a bamboo bicycle (that he insists is stronger than steel) and an eco rickshaw.
What we really like about Varun is his chilled-out attitude and his unique projects. “You shouldn’t see plants in isolation, see it as a whole ecosystem,” he says, inhaling bits of a eucalyptus pod that he has crushed and is seemingly, getting high on. Varun, who has completed his postgraduate degree in Conservartion, Restoration and Sustainable management from the Ecological Society of India, Pune, has been spreading awareness to people on how to compost their garbage, something he started doing many years ago. If you ever happen to visit his house, be sure to get a glimpse of the railing outside his room window. You will see several potted plants that include curry patta, tulsi, bougainvillea, isora, frangipani (also known as desert rose), aloe vera and a ficus family – all grown over the last 5-7 years using a compost made of household wet waste.
In the past, Varun started and promoted the concept of Buy Nothing Day in India, made a butterfly garden near Haji Ali with the help of local residents, as well as attended and took part at the Ladakh Confluence of 2009, a mammoth musical event where he was volunteering with the CO2-NO2 telling people about their ecological footprint. He also plays an instrument called the called “morching” or the jews harp – organic music.
Varun will be conducting a workshop called “How to condition your soil to bring life into it.” It will cost Rs 500 per head. Watch this space for more details.
What does Ecocentric.in do?
Apart from the 5 workshops mentioned above, Ecocentric.in also deals with
1. Waterworks: Water harvestation, water recycling and water shared management through natural techniques.
2. Making gardens of different concepts: Wildlife gardens – butterfly gardens, bee gardens, bat gardens; kitchen gardens, love gardens (with famously known aphrodisiac plants), nakshatra (zodiac) gardens, clock gardens (where your shadow is the sundial) and so on.
3. Conservation work: He can help you do things like adopt a forest, tree, species and more.