Vegetable Gardens & Internet for Indian Youth

by United States Committee for FAO

Thanks again to the generous contributions from individual donors in the Global Giving community, this project has moved into Phase 2!

EarthBoxes will now be introduced and tested at two garden sites in Bangalore.  One is a school where the after-school Eco Club will care for the large vegetable garden and learn various sustainable growing techniques including the EarthBoxes.  The other is at a local NGO that promotes rooftop and terrace gardens throughout Bangalore, Vittal Mallaya Scientific Research Foundation.  They have worked in conjunction with our partner AME Foundation to conduct workshops on organic, sustainable gardening techniques that allow people to grow food despite land constraints. 

Through these on-site demonstrations we hope to learn more about the use of the EarthBox with local inputs, in a variety of settings with a variety of different types of growers in India.   It's is our goal to be able to share some of their stories with you here through the Global Giving site, and through our website   Also, because the students at the school site speak English, we intend to connect them with student growers in the United States so that they can share best practices and learn from each other.

In addition to these two new sites, AME will continue to maintain the rooftop demo garden at their location and to conduct workshops.  If you are in Bangalore and want to learn more about the EarthBox or rooftop or terrace gardening in India, please contact them (

In the next update, I hope to share with you pictures of the two new demonstration gardens! 

Hi Everyone,

AME Foundation has been busy conducting horticultural trials on the EarthBox to identify local inexpensive substrata and fertilizers that can be used in the box.   The trials are complete and the results are in. 

Dr. Viswanath recommends the following blend of inputs readily available in and around Bangalore for use with the EarthBox.

Growing Medium

  • 1 part soil
  • 1 part sand
  • 8 part Special Compost

    Special Compost

    • 1 part coir powder
    • 1 part worm compost
    • 1 part Regular Compost

(Rooftop terrace garden boxes use a 1-1-8 formula.  Ground garden boxes use a 1-1-4 formula because they can use more sand and soil as there are no weight issues.)

EarthBox® Preparation Process 

  • 1 to 2 inches of coir (outside fiber from coconut) placed on the bottom plastic grate and put into the open corners of the grate
  • 6 inches of Growing Medium
  • Remaining 1.5 inches is left vacant on top

Dr. Viswanath explained that, in his opinion, no chemical pesticides or insecticides are needed.  He did suggest that organic pesticides can be used. 

Organic Pesticide Recipe:

  • 1 part garlic (50 grams)
  • 1 part chili pepper
  • 1 part ginger

Grind all of above and mix together

  • 5 parts water

Blend water and mixture into a liquid paste.

  • 5 parts water

Stir liquid paste and additional water together and pour into spray container.

In addition to identifying the appropriate blend of inputs that will adequately wick water from the basin of the EarthBox throughout, the AME team evaluated the technology for local use.  They noted several advantages.  "The chief of them are listed as follows:

  • In the very first place the supplied boxes immensely help in saving water apart from saving labour. Because, watering can be done once in 3 days as against daily watering in case of other boxes.
  • Its ability to support any local growing media effectively is another equally important benefit.
  • Another aspect worth mentioning is that the boxes are comparatively light weighted. Thus, they provide easy portability which is prime requirement for terrace gardening
  • Lastly – though not least – the EarthBoxes are compact and easy to handle."

We are pleased with the results and will now be moving into a second phase of testing.  This time to use the box with different groups of beneficiaries to determine if the EarthBox and The Growing Connection program can be an effective tool in achieving food security.

Thanks for your continued support!

Planting the EarthBoxes
Planting the EarthBoxes

Please see the new photos we've received from AME Foundation of the EarthBox trials.  Studies are underway to identify low-cost local substrate and fertilizer that will produce equally well in the EarthBox as what is used currently in the United States. 

In the photos:

Row T1:  Control (Supplied materials including earth box, coir brick, plant nutrient, dolomite, plastic covers)

Row T2:   Growing medium: Red Earth , Sand and worm castings (1:1:1) with coir mulch

Row T3:  Coir pith and Organic manure (1:1) with coir mulch

Seed Germination
Seed Germination
Brindal Growing!
Brindal Growing!
TGC demo and test garden site at AME Foundation
TGC demo and test garden site at AME Foundation

The first planting results are in from The Growing Connection sites in India and they're overwhelmingly positive. In Kadapa, three varieties of greens are growing - rapidly! (Update from the field: "We planted some green leafy vegetable seeds that sprouted and grew an inch in three days!")

At AME Foundation in Bangalore, the new TGC demo and test garden is growing beans, bhendi (okra), brinjal (eggplant), tomato and a local green called palak.

The rooftop garden at AME Foundation in Bangalore
The rooftop garden at AME Foundation in Bangalore
More kids are growing food in India thanks to Global Giving!
More kids are growing food in India thanks to Global Giving!

Thanks to everyone at Global Giving, The Growing Connection's initiative in India is flourishing!

Horticultural trials to evaluate high-impact local inputs and the best growing techniques for the region are currently underway and The Growing Connection is preparing to take the findings of these trials directly into the schools and community groups that are using The Growing Connection EarthBoxes in and around Bangalore, India. This is a huge expansion of the project that would not have been possible without the generous support of donors like you at Global Giving.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us in our mission to improve nutrition and break the cycle of poverty around the world.


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Organization Information

United States Committee for FAO

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Project Leader:
Amy McMillen
Progam Coordinator
Washington, DC United States

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