Gujarat Mother Designs Low-Cost Kit That Lets You Grow Veggies For Just 299!

Gujarat Mother Designs Low-Cost Kit That Lets You Grow Veggies For Just 299!

The Grow Your Own kit has a coconut pot, seeds and organic fertiliser. All you have to do is just add water and see organic vegetables growing right at your home

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Avanee Jain calls herself an ‘accidental farmprenuer.’ “As a young girl, I would make innumerable trips to my grandfather’s farm in. I had no idea that these would materialise to something, years later,” Avanee tells The Better India.


Wondering how to grow your own vegetables at home? Look no further! Check out different kits by Upaj Farms here.


Founded in 2009, her company ‘Upaj’ runs a farm in the city where vegetables are grown without any chemicals and pesticides. In addition to that, the enterprise also sells ‘Grow-it-yourself (GIY)’ kits to make farming a part of an urban lifestyle.
The kit comprises a biodegradable pot made of coconut, seeds, organic fertiliser, planting tag, instruction manual. All a person has to do is water the kit and see the vegetables grow.

Born and raised in Vadodara, Gujarat, Avanee completed her B.Arch in 2000 and worked in the industry for the next couple of years. Following that, she decided to quit and concentrate on raising her children.

Avanee Jain, founder of Upaj

When her children became old enough, Avanee decided to take her love for gardening seriously and started growing vegetables on the 50,000 sq ft plot owned by her family.

“I combined the farming knowledge I had from my grandfather, with some online research, and started growing seasonal vegetables. I had used chemicals and pesticides in the first cycle, and the extent of deterioration in nutrients of the plants was clear. That is when I realised that I did not want those chemically grown veggies on my dinner table,” says the 41-year-old.

Starting the Organic Journey

Just when the first crop cycle was about to end, Avanee started looking for safer alternatives and decided to educate herself on organic farming through YouTube videos and online research. She also enrolled herself in a long-distance course on permaculture at Cornell University to enhance her knowledge in farming techniques.

“I replaced chemicals with biomass⁠—fallen leaves, leftover vegetable waste and wet waste. Not only does this keep the insects away, but it also helps in retaining the water. I also use the biomass for mulching or covering the soil. The thick layer prevents weed growth and burning of root hair during summers,” she explains.

She opted for multi-cropping, a technique where more than two crops are planted together, to save water and increase the yield output. For example, she planted the seeds of tomato and basil. Another combination was marigold and root vegetables like radish. Avanee did not flatten her field. Instead, she raised some parts of the ground to prevent water runoff.

“We dug up trenches and filled up the soil in the center to make a raised bed. The trenches help in draining off excess rainwater from the raised bed, keeping the crop dry. The trenches also help in storing this essential water and helping in hydrating the land.”

After keeping aside some of the produce for her family, Avanee distributed the remaining to her friends and relatives. Thanks to word-of-mouth, the demand for her vegetables started increasing, so she started farming on different plots of land which were owned by her friends and relatives, and eventually started selling vegetables from her relative’s house.

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She also employed women from an underprivileged background to manage farming activities, and today, her team consists of 10 people. To procure seeds for her farm, Avanee tied up with three groups of farmers from nearby villages.

Upaj team


Spreading Her Expertise

Once Avanee got used to farming, she started inviting people, farmers and school students for visits and workshops on organic farming.

“There were people like me who wanted to farm and had a vacant plot of land, but no idea how to go about it. So, I came up with the idea of workshops. These workshops vary from one month to one year.”

In the workshop, she lends a piece of her land to the client and lets them cultivate fruits and vegetables. From using organic fertilisers, water-saving techniques in farms to planting multiple crops together for a faster produce, Avanee imparts all the necessary knowledge through the workshops. The clients are also given seeds and organic fertilisers.

So far, Upaj has conducted over 400 workshops on different subjects relating to Urban farming and gardening at home.

 

Shivani from Nandesari enrolled for Avanee’s workshop in 2017. She is an HRD Director and a mother of two. After the workshop, she procured organic seeds from Avanee and started growing her own vegetables. She distributes the organic produce to her friends, relatives and workers in her company.


Wondering how to grow your own vegetables at home? Look no further! Check out different kits by Upaj Farms here.


“I was always interested in gardening, and the workshop was beneficial. The taste and quality of the food on my farm is so much better than what is available in the market. After we set up the farm, even my children help in farming activity,” Shivani tells The Better India.

Shivani in her farm

 

Soon, people started asking for seeds so that they could grow veggies in their house. That is when Avanee came up with the idea of the GIY kit.

“People are increasingly leaning towards natural food, but it is expensive, and not everyone can afford it. Also, for people living in the cities, space is a huge challenge, so it is not feasible to maintain a full-time farm. This kit is a one-stop solution,” says Avanee.

Avanee is now working towards designing a kit exclusively for children. Besides the pot and seeds, the kit will also have a tiny information booklet explaining the farming method, recipes of the vegetables, its benefits, and so on.

You can get in touch with Upaj here.


Wondering how to grow your own vegetables at home? Look no further! Check out different kits by Upaj Farms here.


(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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