The Community Farm (DSO) is one initiative that has endeared Dubai Silicon Oasis closer to its residents. The initiative starts every September each year, and residents have until May the next year to tend to their garden plots. Around 400 plots were distributed this year spanning a total of 8,000 sq m.
If I had to choose one, the Community Farm is definitely one of my favourite locations in DSO.
The 8’x4’ plots of land come equipped with irrigation for residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables during winter.
Come September and the area turns into a collective farm, an interactive outdoor space where families, adults and children can be seen busy ploughing, tilling, sowing and mending their allotted plot.
This year is the fourth season of this brilliant initiative and the theme is “Less time, More yield”.
On the initiation day every season, the DSO team hands over seeds to those who have been allocated a plot from the limited number available each year.
At the end of each season, winners are selected on the basis of their quality of produce, maintenance of plots, passion and adherence to the particular season’s theme.
Every season witnesses some brilliant produce of fruits, herbs and vegetables — both from amateur and expert gardeners.
This is the first time for my neighbour Anu Rajagolan, who has a keen interest in gardening and already maintains a beautiful garden in her villa.
One recent evening I accompanied her to the farm where she showed off her plot to me. A few seeds had already started to sprout.
Get the kids involved
“This is the first time I am trying my hands with vegetables and I am so excited to see that my fenugreek has finally come up. I was so anxious! I was keen to get my kids to see this and I’m sure once they see the yield, they would feel proud. This will get them to be interested in growing their own vegetables.”
Herbs like fenugreek, coriander, mint, basil and vegetables like tomato, eggplant, green peas, cucumber, cabbage and cauliflowers are easy yields.
A few plots also witness seasonal flowers like marigolds and geraniums. One needn’t worry about watering the plants — the plot comes with irrigation and there are fixed times for the water supply. However, weeding or pests can prove to be a problem.
So can be a negligent neighbouring plot owner, as Gowri Deepak, last season’s winner explains.
Gowri stays in an apartment here and has been engaged in the Community Farm from the beginning. She’s learnt through the seasons through trial and error and also from the bestseller book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
The “square foot gardening” method is an ingenious planting method based on using square foot blocks of garden space instead of rows.
According to the author, the founder of this gardening method, an 8’x8’ plot can produce enough for a family of four.
Gowri ardently follows the mantra and she expects that in this new season, her precious plot will again overflow with nature’s abundance — enough to be distributed among her neighbours and her husband’s colleagues in office!