Food Forests in Mumbai

The Man Who Made The Tide Turn – An Interview with an Environmentalist

George Remedios, an environment enthusiast and founder of The Turning Tide, a small environmental group in Mumbai, has made a major impact on the environment by building over 6 food forests across the city. We visited him at the very site where he’s created one of the food forests at Santacruz, Vakola. This is an initiative to move towards a better planet, by way of creating compost pits and food forests at various locales. Let’s get an insight into this from the man himself.

Interview with the Founder of The Turning Tide, George Remedios

What inspired you to start The Turning Tide?

I was working in the corporate sector in a well-defined position when I recognised my passion for the environment. I moved from hotel management and the advertising sector, to go ahead and make a difference out there. A change that would set a revolution of sorts. It started with a simple initiative on my part. I remember when one day, I saw a stack of newspapers and decided to do something that would create change. I sold these papers and then bought saplings with the money I made. I planted these and that, right there was the start to something big! In fact, the name “The Turning Tide” means “change”. It’s been about that, from the very start. I had a lot of support from my volunteers, who assisted me in every way possible, to make possible this dream.

How was the shift? From the world of glamour to the tough life?

It was tough of course. The decision to switch over was tremendously difficult. But I believe that when you’ve got something in mind, something that can make a difference, the passion and zeal to do it is all that is needed. Ever since I was young, I’ve seen a lot of friends suffering from lung cancer, asthma, affected by the pollution and environmental conditions around. This was what fuelled my passion further and made me even more rigid in doing something about it.

What does The Turning Tide do for the cause of the environment?

An initiative that began 4 years ago, this serves to better the environment and make the planet a greener place to live on. Our activities include planting trees, building compost pits, creating food forests and taking a step in the right direction. We also work towards managing biodegradable waste by the tonnes. Rainwater harvesting and recharging groundwater, creating a habitat for birds, bees and other pollinators are a part of our initiatives. We also conduct activities aimed at sensitising people to this cause and enabling people to do their bit. It’d do good to remember that luxury is not a necessity. Cutting down on consumerism is the key to avoiding an existential crisis.

How did you come up with the idea of these compost pits and food forests you spoke of?

It started with me becoming aware about the quality of the soil. I noticed certain changes in it over time. The food products grown in the area, the way they were affected by the soil they grew on, all this got me thinking. Soil is vital to survival. It supports the very existence of us here. And if there’s something wrong with this life support, it’s major cause for concern. What everyone considers “dirt” is actually the crux of life here. When I realised this shift in the texture and quality, I decided to do something to improve the situation at hand. That is how the compost pits and food forests emerged.

At how many locations across the city, are these projects in function?

The idea was to benefit society by way of the produce of these food forests. The very goal being, feeding the people around, connecting with nature, boosting pollinators and providing shade. We have started such forests at Bandra, Andheri, Vakola, Kalina and there are presently 6 in number. We also have this project at the Yeoor forest at Thane. Here, the aim was to provide for the tribals in the area, to give them a livelihood and a reason to look after the forests. Along with providing for the locals around, these also reduce the tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the air, thus acting like air purifiers.

What is your dream for The Turning Tide?

Ideally, if the concept of a food forest works in a small society, I’m positive the plot reserved for this venture can grow. My vision would be getting people to be more conscious of the environment and the climax we are approaching. I’d like to start many more such forests around the city. Maybe a 100 of these sites all across Mumbai. With the right funding, this dream could be expanded to across the Nation.

Being an environmental enthusiast is there anything you’d like to put out there for our readers?

I was 9 when I planted my first tree. In college days, I would walk back to economise so that I could spend the money on buying some saplings. We could all do our part to change the global issues we have at hand. Working for the cause of the environment is a calling that everyone should heed. It’s up to you to do the littlest things by way of turning the planet into the planet of your dreams.

Tell us about the funding aspect of your ventures. How difficult is it to get corporates to reach out?

While it is a task to get the attention of corporates, it isn’t impossible. We tied up with Viacom18 and help them in their venture #recycleforagreencause. We’ve also approached some of the biggest five-star hotels, in order to get them engaged in our purpose. Hotels, generating the major amount of waste on a daily basis, are an excellent source. We hope for the best. The environment is a concern at hand and it would be great if corporates too could join our cause.

If the article above inspired you to do your bit for the environment, volunteer to be a part of a better tomorrow. You can follow the social media handles of The Turning Tide and be agents of change.

Facebook: The Turning Tide

Instagram: the_turning_tide

Email: [email protected]

Youtube: The Turning Tide India

Krystelle Dsouza

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