Smita Shirodkar’s journey over the past decade has been a roller coaster of changing professions.
From taking over her father’s business after completing her MBA, then taking a leave to nurture a terrace garden and finally, teaching thousands of people how to make a terrarium, the Mumbai resident has worn many caps.
This weekend, her organisation, Earthoholics, will teach you the art of designing your landscape, maintaining an ecosystem and growing plants—even if you don’t have a balcony or terrace!
From a piece of land to a fishbowl terrarium:
Growing up in Mumbai, Smita had no connection with farming. Her dream was to head her father’s business, and she did just that.
By 2011, she had completed her MCom and MBA and was working in her family’s consumer electronics business.
Then, a trip to the Goa factory gave her a whole new direction.
“On my visit, I came to know about a piece of land we owned that was left unused. I wanted to utilise it for farming, but dad thought it wasn’t our cup of tea. We were city folks, after all. But I was still curious and travelled across India, meeting with NGOs and farmers, discussing their problems, concerns and expectations,” she shares with The Better India.
Within a couple of months, she had met enough farmers to know that urban farming is an excellent to solve food woes.
So, while she thought of something to do with the land in Goa, she also started growing vegetables and fruits on her 1000 sq ft terrace.
“I failed the first two times, but the third time, it was a grand success. Within three months, I had started growing over 20 varieties of vegetables in addition to some ornamental plants,” she says.
This weekend, trained horticulturists from Earthoholics will be teaching you how to utilise glass bowls and bottles to make beautiful terrariums. Click here to enrol for the workshop now.
Compact gardens for a jam-packed Mumbai:
In November 2011, she founded Earthoholics, a platform to share her knowledge of organic urban farming and terrace gardening with Mumbai residents.
Speaking about the journey, Smita says, “I couldn’t believe that someone as educated as me, didn’t know much about environmental topics like waste management, biodiversity and rainwater harvesting etc. It was fascinating to understand these things. By 2013, there were bigger players in the game of selling organic produce, so I went a step ahead and started teaching how to grow organic vegetables and fruits at home.”
As word got out, people began approaching her and sharing their unrealised dreams of nurturing plants and growing vegetables, which would not be possible in a space-starved city like Mumbai.
Smita, who had assembled terrariums as a hobby until then, decided to take this activity on a larger scale and through Earthoholics, started conducting workshops in various parts of the megacity.
It has been over five years now, and she has trained nearly 80,000 people. Everyone makes a terrarium right in front of her, gets a DIY kit to try at home, and some of them have also pursued it professionally!
“We teach two methods of making a terrarium—an open terrarium in a fishbowl as well as a closed one in a narrow-necked bottle. Once you learn how to set it perfectly, the closed terrarium becomes an ecosystem of its own, using the water cycle inside it to help the plants survive. While making one terrarium is like designing a mini-landscape in itself, you can replicate it and adorn your home with several,” mentions the ecopreneur.
Smita is right. Terrariums are gorgeous, natural adornments that require very little space, and make for excellent gifts too!
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(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)