On city outskirts, a return to nature via herb gardens, camping sites

New projects offer residents a chance to run community farms, attend harvest festivals, pick fruit in an orchard, all on-­site.

Updated: Dec 26, 2017 20:46:07

By Lavina Mulchandani

A camping site, a herb garden and an orchard are a part of Kalpataru’s Amoda Reserve - South Park in Kunegaon, near Lonavla.

Imagine having a forest right outside your high-rise building. Or being able to go camping, within a gated community.

Moving beyond landscaped gardens, tennis courts and swimming pools, residential projects are offering sustainable amenities such as man-made forests, campsites, bird watching and herb farms.

For new home owners like Pawan Deshmukh, 30, a professor from Powai the amenities are a difference-maker. “I want to experience outdoors without actually wanting a walk on tough terrain or sleep in cold nights as it happens in usual nature trails or camping sites,” he says.

Making open spaces available has become an important marketing tool for many projects, says AS Sivaramakrishnan, head of residential services at CBRE India. “This trend is likely to pick up, especially in metropolitan cities.”

With pollution becoming a major health concern for residents of metro cities, greenery in any form attracts attention, says Surabhi Arora, senior associate director of research at Colliers International India. “Recently, a few developers have offered amenities such as orchard, man-made forests and camping sites,’ she says. “This also provides a luxury tag to the project.”

Into the wild

In Godrej’s Vikhroli property, The Trees, you can opt for a family farm or be part of a community agro effort.

The forest in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, which was planted in the previous decade is in full bloom now. The developers call it Lake Castle and claim it covers 27,000 square metres and has 87 species of plants. “An in-house horticulture department hosts several horticulture initiatives like flower festivals, and introduces indigenous species of trees and shrubs into the forest.”

At Godrej’s Vikhroli property The Trees, residents can get a 2x1- metre farm near their flat or become a part of a larger community farm. “The residents can sow and reap anything from traditional vegetables to exotic fruits,” says Anubhav Gupta, chief design officer and business head Vikhroli, head CSR and Sustainability Godrej Properties Limited. “We plan to celebrate annual harvesting festivals in the farm just like the farmers do.”

But what you want the luxury of being close to nature without getting your hands dirty as you clear weeds and worry about fertiliser. A campsite, a one-acre orchard and a bird-watching site are an integrated part of Kalpataru group’s Amoda Reserve - South Park in Kungaon, between Lonavala and Pune.

“You can pick the fruits from the gardens – jackfruits, mango and pomegranate – go camping with your family by just walking for a few minutes from your house and get to see several species of birds,” says spokesperson from Kalpataru group. The fruit and herb gardens in the project have special signs to orient newcomers and city-folks with the greens.

Isprava’s projects in Goa and the Nilgiris offer private tea gardens and public herb and vegetable patches.

There are many seasonal varieties of fruits and vegetables in the gardens here that are rare to find in the market outside, says Prasoon Bhatt, 48, businessman and resident at Amoda Reserve- South park. “I love the idea of spending a Sunday morning hand picking fruits and vegetables, and whipping up a salad that is truly garden fresh.”

The amenities that involve plants and trees actually do not really need a lot of monetary maintenance, says Nibhrant Shah, CEO and founder, Isprava, a developers firm. They’re projectsin Goa and the Nilgiris include private tea gardens and public herb gardens. “They are not as complicated to run as high-tech security systems. You hire a good gardening team and spend on fertilisers, pesticides and seeds, done,” says Shah.

In Thane, Tata Housing has a forested boardwalk in their project Serein. “The boardwalk offers you a view of the trees and the lake,” says Rajeeb Dash, who heads corporate marketing for Tata Housing. “We also offer organic farming patches in the project. The amenities like having a community farm helps bring the residents together. They like the idea of enjoying fruits of their labour and sharing the harvest with each other.”

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 20:46:07


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