My Dubai Rent: Indian family turn large balcony of Dh58,000 apartment into organic farm

Family grow potatoes, tomatoes, chillis and herbs on balcony of second floor apartment

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My Dubai Rent takes you inside a reader's home to have a look at what they pay each month, see who they live with and ask what they like and don't like

An Indian dad living in Dubai has transformed the balcony on his second-floor apartment into an organic farm.

Vishwanath Shetty, 45, whose day job is running a logistics news platform, grows vegetables and plants outside his home in Al Furjan district of Dubai that he pays Dh58,000 a year to live in.

Mr Shetty and his wife Spandana use leftover scraps of fruit and vegetables as compost and for planting.

Here he takes The National on a tour of his home to show readers why it is so very special to him and his family.

Where do you live?

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Al Furjan. The real selling point is the balcony.

How much do you pay in rent?

We pay Dh58,000 over four cheques. This is our second year here and we paid Dh55,000 last year but I do not mind paying a little extra as I know rent prices have gone up everywhere since Expo.

Why did you choose to live here?

The key factor for us is the balcony. It’s an extended space that allows us to grow our own vegetables and plants.

I come from a family of farmers and my wife is quite interested in gardening.

The balcony space is used for growing organic vegetables. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

So when we came in and saw the place and the balcony space, we knew we wanted it.

The best part of living in this part of town is that it is so relaxed. We are only a few minutes walk from two different metro stations, Discovery Gardens and Al Furjan, which is great when my wife needs to go to the office.

Living here feels like you are a little bit outside Dubai, almost as if you are living in the countryside, without being too far away from everything.

We are right beside Discovery Gardens as well, so there is still a vibrant community here, and there is a Carrefour nearby too, so we have everything we could want right on our doorsteps.

Living here meant we were really close to Expo 2020 Dubai. I think we must have visited it almost 20 times in total, due to the fact it was so easy to get the metro there.

Another bonus is the parking. It does not matter how long you park for, it could be 10 minutes or all weekend, it is without charge and there are always spaces.

When friends come to visit they always comment on how easy it is to park here compared to other parts of Dubai.

The welcoming entrance space at the apartment in Al Furjan. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

How do you use the soil on your balcony for organic farming?

We use whatever leftover vegetables and vegetable peels we have from dinner and mix them with soil and then plant them in the sand.

We also use a very small amount of organic manure and it takes about a month or two for the soil to become fertile.

We grow about six kilograms of tomatoes in the winter and we also grow potatoes, chillies, spinach and cherries.

What have you done to add your personal touch to your apartment?

We looked at a few places but wanted somewhere Vastu-compliant. It is an old-school Indian tradition, a bit like Feng Shui.

For example, it was important to us that the door was facing a northern or north-western direction and there was the right amount of light coming into the rooms. It took my wife and I a little while to get it just right.

Obviously, we have the farming on the balcony as well.

Is there anything you would change about your home?

There is not much I would change as we are really happy here. I guess one issue that I would change though is that I cannot let my eight-year-old son Shaurya go down and cycle on his own as there is traffic on the road outside.

Updated: August 16, 2022, 6:25 AM