We read all the articles that pop up on our newsfeed about ‘global warming’…We keep our air conditioners on all day because it’s too darn hot…We watch mutely as lush trees in our city being brought down on the pretext of redevelopment, laying the ‘Metro’ foundation or more…We mourn the lack of shaded, cool lanes in our city…We drive our cars instead of taking public or shared transport…We complain about the fumes and pollution levels going out of control in the city…We crib about the government doing nothing…We continue to do nothing ourselves… After all, nothing’s in our hands… right? Lets instead of complaining become a seed bomber ourselves
For nearly five years a group of people comprising of Vikas Mahajan, Sanjeev Asher, Aaditya Valse, Deepa Parikh, Naina Saxena, Sangeeta Mahajan, Shaila Shenoy and Laura Gonsalves have chosen to become ‘seed-bombers’ to save Mumbai city and the habitat within and around it.
Every summer they send out messages via social media to friends, family and assorted strangers to preserve seeds from the fruits they are eating. Dried seeds are carefully stuffed into a mixture of 3 parts soil and 1 part manure. These ‘seed bombs’ are allowed to air-dry indoors
When the first rains lash the city, they head out into the city and beyond, looking for spots to ‘plant’ these bombs and then allowing the monsoon Gods to take over from there.
India Pages spoke to Vikas Mahajan of Ffroge (Friends For Reviving Our Green Earth)
What inspired you to become a ‘seed-bomber’?
Being a wildlife photographer, I learned the importance of jungles and saw that there is a need for a balanced ecosystem to make the flora and fauna survive. A few Articles on Biodiversity loss and Statistics of Trees per person of different countries, which shows Canada has around 9000 trees per person and India has just 28 trees per person. This is shocking for a country of a billion people and counting!
What was the first experience like?
The experience of working for nature is always great and satisfying. It has been taking some time, but people do understand the importance of working towards our environment. My passion for working with nature made me join my college back after 25 years to do my Masters (MSc) in Biodiversity, Wildlife Conservation, and Management, which will help me work better for Nature and Wildlife Conservation.
How do you go about finding locations and when do you place these in the soil?
A person has to travel distances and where ever there is scope for plantation, we place the seed bombs there. The outskirts of Urban cities have many barren lands and deforested areas which we try to actively seek out.
Now that this is your 5th year, have you been able to track the growth of the saplings? Has the process evolved? How?
We had monitored our seed bombs for first two years through GPS Location marking and realised that they sprout well and turn into saplings. As we have no monetary support and we are a small group of friends working for nature, it is impossible for us to monitor the saplings every year.
Have you partnered with local authorities? Where do you get your biggest help from?
We have not partnered with anyone as we don’t want to get into commercializing our group. We do not get any help or support from anyone. It is the friends in our group that contribute to making events successful.
While we go around placing seed bombs in deforested areas, we carry bags to collect the garbage from the jungles too so it is cleanliness drive at the same time.
What about other citizens?
We involve school kids as they are our future and when they understand the importance and start loving Nature at a young age, then they care for it throughout their life.
Is it tough?
Last year one person from Vashi called me that he has seeds, I asked him to courier, guess what. He was asking me who will pay for courier. “If you want, come and take or I am throwing them away.” I realised people are still not aware of the dangerous conditions around them or else he wouldn’t have spoken to me like this. We are getting to breathe free of cost so we are not realizing the importance
Any unique incidents that have happened?
Once I was travelling for seed bomb dispersal from Khopoli to Murud via Pen and Roha. I stopped at one place where there were barren hills amidst the dense forest. I wanted to disperse some seed bombs in the deforested areas. I kept a Newspaper bag on the parapet which had very few seed bombs left.
I turned to drink water as it was humid, suddenly a Macaque came from nowhere and took away the bag. He sat far on a branch just above the valley and started scrutinizing the stuff inside by tearing the paper bag. All the seed balls fell in a deep valley where probably I wouldn’t have reached by any means. He helped me unknowingly.
The type of seeds they are collecting includes: Mango, Chiku, Sweet lemon, Bor, Jamun, Oranges, Litchi, Lemon, Custard-apple, Papaya, Watermelon are ideal.
Want to become a seed bomber? Join in with the seeds you have collected, add your email address and courier it to:
110, Universal Industrial Estate,
Next to A.H. Wadia High School, J.P. Road,
Andheri(W), Mumbai – 58