Building a 15 meter x 20 meter vegetable cage is no small feat. The last estimate we had was that it would cost about 4 lakhs, which is apparently the cost of a small house. A lakh is a unit in the South Asian numbering system equivalent to 100,000. So, is 400,000 rupees worth it for a vegetable cage? I think spending energy to get a smarter design would be more worth it.
With the help of Raxa Collective’s head engineer, it is very likely we will be able to lower that cost significantly. As I talked about in my post about quantifying farm-to-table, I think that with a combination of lowering the cost and then taking advantage of the monkey-protected area as vigorously as possible with efficient use of the space, it will be worth it. There are elements of farm-to-table that are not quantifiable but can be seen in the overall conservation story of supporting smart land-use practices.
At the end of the day, at least the food here is locally sourced mostly from the Cumbum vegetable market in Tamil Nadu. This market is only about 25 km away and the farmers in that market are relatively close. This is far better then the way most food is sourced in the United States.
In the United States, eating local is a challenge. Most agriculture in the states is for corn and soybeans, rather than vegetables. And “local” is difficult when the local environment has few green spaces left, let alone farmland. So even though we don’t have “monkey-challenges” to growing our food locally in the states, we have monocultures and rapid suburbanization keeping us farther and farther away from fresh food.
A quick comment on the eat local movement in the United States: Some people have discussed how the culture of environmentalism can be filled with people who don’t really care but find it trendy to support sustainable initiatives and feel good about themselves for doing that. I agree that it gets frustrating to see people who don’t care enough to get fully informed. But, if people think eating local and organic is cool, I would say let people feel cool! If things that are good for nature and humanity catch on because of that, at least its catching on in some way. I hope growing your own food has more enduring qualities than a passing fad, but I am glad to see it has had a resurgence into mainstream culture.