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On a green mission, with bombs in hand

MUMBAI,ANAGHA SAWANT: They love to go on a carpet bombing, but with bombs of a different sort. The aim is not to annihilate, but to create greenery, by planting and nurturing more and more trees.

And it’s this time of the year, when the soil is saturated in showers, that the ffroge – Friends For Reviving Our Green Earth – with bombs in hand, takes to the deforested areas in and around Mumbai.

The making of the bomb, however, starts in summer itself. The seeds are collected from the public and schoolchildren and converted into seed bombs alias seed balls (see box). What next is to identify the target areas for bombing near the water bodies.

Says Vikas Mahajan, a businessman who started this initiative a few years ago, “We pick Sundays to go to the locations we have identified in the deforested areas. So far, over 400 seed balls have been sowed. This Sunday, 250 seed balls – made by students of Roseneil High School, Bhayander – will be sowed by our group in Shahapur, Kalamboli, Naigaon, Virar, Uran areas.”

The seeds used are of native fruits and vegetables like watermelon, mangoes, jackfruit, lychee, chickoo, oranges, lemon. The technique is mainly employed in Japan. “Dispersing a seed to grow trees has less percentage of success because the seeds are mostly eaten away by ants or other insects. Seed bomb is a good method to increase the success percentage of seed germination,” said Mahajan.

He says that the initiative is invoking good response from the public who are now coming forward to contribute seeds. “Many have couriered us dry seeds. Some come in person. A women group from Pune couriered me some seeds of mangoes, oranges, lemons recently. Seeds can be gifted at any point of the year, and could be that of seasonal fruits and vegetables. We will be sowing them once the monsoon commences,” he said.

A nature lover from Chembur, Shilpa Sharma, 45, has initiated it in her locality. Sharma has been talking to her residential society members to collect the seed and make seed bombs to sow in the nearby areas. “The initiative should be taken up by every individual, instead of discarding seeds along with garbage. We are gathering like-minded people to team up for the initiative. This will help us track the growth of the plants.”

What is seed bombing?

It is a technique of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping seed balls. Often, seed bombing projects are done with arid or off-limits areas. Provided enough water, adequate sunlight, and low competition from existing flora and fauna, seed-bombed barren land could be host to new plants in as little as a month.

How to make a seed bomb

Wash the seed and dry it in indirect sunlight

Mix 3 portions of mud and 1 portion of compost/manure

Add water to the mixture and prepare dough

Make small mud ball out of the dough and insert seeds

Keep the balls in a tray and dry them in indirect sunlight

To contribute seeds or for more details, mail to ffroge@gmail.com

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