I am Aadya Joshi, a high school student in the city of Mumbai. I would often pass a junkyard in my neighbourhood, which was filled with abandoned cars, filth and grime. After a while, I learnt to ignore it, and go about my business, till one day I decided to speak to the Police official incharge. Would you mind if we cleaned up the lot? I asked not quite sure what to expect. Little, did I realise that this question would lead me on an exciting, yet unexpected track of action and learning, finally leading to the founding of The Right Green.
It all began, in the summer after Grade 9, I undertook a project that involved cleaning and greening of a dump yard at a local police station. While trying to figure out what to plant, I learnt about the importance of native plants, and how they were more resilient and better suited to their local environment than non-native plants.
Picking Up Speed
As the project concluded, I realised that, while we had cleaned one yard, there were many more in the neighbourhood. Also, plants take a long time to grow and need care for many years. I wanted to see if there was a way to do it faster and better. This is when I encountered the Miyawaki method of urban foresting, which promised to regenerate forests in an accelerated manner. Intrigued by this, I decided to attend a Miyawaki workshop conducted by Afforestt.
Celebrating Our Soil
Here I learnt that an important factor affecting plant growth was the quality of soil. If we wanted good, healthy plants we first needed good healthy soil. This got me thinking about how I could deepen my understanding of soil health. I found out about a series of courses on soil microbiology and restoration conducted by Dr. Elaine Ingham offered by the Environment Celebration Institute, USA and was thrilled to be awarded a scholarship for these courses.
The Miyawaki course also taught me more about native plants and made me realise how much more important they were to the environment than just any greening. Everywhere I now looked I saw non-native plants such as Bougainvillea from South America, Gulmohar from Madagascar, Copper Pod from South East Asia or Rain Tree from Costa Rica, a legacy of the colonial era.
Bringing Nature Home
As my interest in native plants grew, I kept researching and I found a book written by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, at the University of Delaware called “Bringing Nature Home”. He has identified an important ecological link between native plants, insects and birds and found a way to bring back insects and birds by planting native plants. Having read about Dr. Tallamy’s successes in the US I wondered, can I do the same for Mumbai? I then founded The Right Green.
The Right Green
From conducting workshops for the youngest members of our society, to research on building a comprehensive database of plant-insect feeding relationships for the Indian subcontinent, The Right Green is committed to spreading awareness and spurring action towards planting native and bringing our butterflies, insects and birds back to our cities.