Paying an ode to nature

Green spaces
Last Updated 15 May 2016, 18:42 IST

In the shady confines of RT Nagar, some intelligent, passionate individuals are working hard, trying to make the planet a greener place. ‘Urban Mali’, a startup housed by ArtyPlantz, that takes care of people’s home gardening needs while also empowering rural farmers, has been changing the world one garden at a time.

The startup was founded around 6 months back by Dr Vandana Krishnamurthy in collaboration with Radha Eswar and Krish Murali Eswar and aims to connect people with plants using gardens as a medium.

“We want people to connect with the trees and plants in their garden, not just because they’re pretty or nice to look at, but because they can use them or it reminds them of their childhood days. Only an emotional connect with nature will make people want to save the planet,” says Vandana.

She adds that this is her and her team’s small way of bringing nature back. An ardent lover of nature and self-proclaimed ‘earth-bunny’, her idea sprouted (quite literally) when she tossed a tomato seed into an empty pot and it grew into a plant.

After 3 gruelling years of mentoring by Radha and Krish, she is now ready to take her venture to people. She says of her experience, “Once you find your passion and figure out what it is that you really want to do, it’s smooth sailing from there.”

 ‘Urban Mali’ isn’t just a drive to bring back vegetation. In Vandana’s words, “We are a social enterprise — a business with a social impact.” The social impact in question is the engagement of rural farmers and their skills in their functioning.

“We found that a lot of people who wanted gardens just approached their neighbours or local nurseries and asked for a gardener, so we decided to position the business from that perspective,” she adds.

These gardeners are crucial to the functioning of the system, as they impart their knowledge and wisdom on the nuances of gardening to clients. In return, they get job security, microfinancing options and most importantly, become a part of the ArtyPlantz family. Sudhakar, the company’s personal gardener turned unofficial mascot is the face of upliftment of these farmers.

And if you think that’s all that there is to this unique startup, you would be very wrong.
Their biggest philosophy is the use of native plants and organic farming techniques in setting up gardens.

“We use only native plants because they are suited to the environment. All these beautiful, exotic plants are hard to maintain and require pesticides or excessive water but native plants don’t require chemicals and grow on their own,” explains Vandana.

Success comes in small ways for them. If more people get connected to plants and each other, that’s enough, according to Vandana. “Sometimes people give us feedback like ‘I saw a swarm of butterflies in my garden today, I’m so thankful!’ or ‘My son loves harvesting the ladiesfinger’ and we consider these responses as small successes of our work.” Word-of-mouth and social media are the spaces used by them garner attention.

The process of setting up your personalised garden in that empty space you’ve never gotten around to taking care of is fairly simple and requires little to no effort.

The team can be approached at any time, following which a ‘mali’ (gardener) will visit your site or take a look at your space. A few discussions and a formal proposal with a full quote later and voila! you have your very own garden!

(Published 15 May 2016, 15:36 IST)

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