Sisters Kanika and Kushika Sharma pursued different careers, but their heart and soul always belonged to the hills and in doing something meaningful for society.
My sister Kanika and I, Kushika, call ourselves the organic sisters. We were brought up in the beautiful and serene hill station of Nainital, where we naturally learnt to value our surroundings and environment.
Our father always gave us the important push we needed. He always taught us that we could do anything in this world. While society sometimes differentiated between what a boy and a girl can do, our father believed that we can do what his son can do. His love for nature, and constant urge to give back to mother Earth, influenced us in our formative years.
Growing up, we pursued different careers. A product of University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, with an MBA in Supply Chain Management, I worked as a senior research analyst with a leading MNC for four years. Kanika, a post graduate in Human Rights from Jamia Millia Islamia, completed her scholarship in entrepreneurship from ISB Hyderabad and worked with various NGOs and international organisations. She is a smart worker and excellent in authority management.
But our heart and soul always belonged to the hills and in doing something meaningful for society.
Kushika and Kanika, the organic sisters
We had all the comfort and luxury in our lives. Had it not been for our father, his passion toward his work in hospitality and his dream to make the lives of Uttarakhand’s farmers and villagers more comfortable, we would still be doing our city jobs. Instead, we realised that we wanted to share the beauty and joy of organic and natural farming with the world. This is how we came up with the concept of Dyo – The Organic Village Resort.
We had ancestral land and we thought of utilizing it to bring an organic twist to the hospitality industry.
Coming from different educational backgrounds, our first step was to learn organic farming techniques and in turn and teach those skills to locals. We went to seminars on organic farming. Next, we explored the market for luxury resorts and analysed competition, an area where my research skills came in handy. From government schemes to licenses for the hospitality market, we had to cover two ends and assess the feasibility for our project. Arranging funds was another challenge.
We aimed to marry farming with hospitality in a manner that would benefit both sectors. We want people to witness the beauty of our hills and also experience the hard work of farmers, particularly those who have minimum exposure to the practice.
For our society to grow, it’s important that the youth grows too. We give opportunity to school dropouts who have no previous hospitality skills in order to help them with skill development and stop migration from the hills. We sisters not only wanted to share the experience but also help uplift the locals.
Located in Mukhteshwar, on the Himalayan foothills, we offer an opportunity for everyone to experience the sheer joy of organic and natural farming.
A view of the organic village resort
We are geared towards promoting agro-tourism and making farming as glamorous as any cosmetic product in a mall. At the same time, we also want to encourage the understanding that farming is a very important part of our economy.
Guests can try organic farming at our property, pick their own veggies and give it to the chef for a meal. Everything is farm-to-table. Along with the vast variety of fruits and vegetables, and a luscious menu, we also provide luxury rooms with modern amenities.
Our guests love to behold the Himalayan range with a cup of tea in hand, or unwind and explore their pristine surroundings. Whoever has visited the resort has extended their stay. They are in love with the place and the organic activity.
In running the property, we have also taken a conscious approach towards eco-friendly practices. Mountains have water scarcity and therefore we have harvested about 4 lakh litres of rain water and are aiming to multiply the capacity.
Fallen leaves, farm and kitchen waste are recycled into manure using compost pits while cow dung is used for farm manure. We are also focusing on energy conservation by installing solar roof panels.
The biggest challenge in any entrepreneurial journey is overcoming your own fundamental darkness. You have to believe in your dream and set strict goals.
Kanika with local farmers
Dyo will be entirely different from the order-and-receive-in-30-minutes kind of experience that has taken over the industry. It is our desire to be able to make everybody experience our resort and appreciate the true luxuries of nature.
Our next step would be to involve as many local farmers in this and educate them. We are also planning to expand and sell our produce in cities and are working on its supply chain.
Life after Dyo is totally different than it was in a metropolitan city. It is calm, full of nature’s goodness, a sense of satisfaction and the blessings of our locals. And yet, it is as ambitious as it could be in any MNC.
We believe everyone has his or her mission on this earth. The purpose should be to contribute to society. While the world is moving towards eating poison-infected food, we feel we can set an example for the hospitality industry by opting for sustainability.
(Written by Kushika Sharma)