- Goa Social
- GREEN ESSENTIALS
With organic farming being the buzzword these days and indignant paranoia surrounding the food we consume, most people have begun to feel the need to try out their green thumb. Assisting them on this deceptively easy course is Yogita Mehra, ably backed by her husband Karan Manral, through their venture, Green Essentials that works as a knowledge centre, store and nursery, all rolled in one. Deepa George meets up with them to get the dirt on how it’s done.
There is no thing as a green thumb!” exclaims Yogita as I try and find a reason behind her passion. She quickly adds, “It is all about observing, empathising and obstinately persisting.” That makes sense and perhaps is inspiration enough for anyone to give growing your own vegetables a chance. City slickers from Mumbai, Yogita doesn’t make any claims of ever harbouring dreams of being an organic farmer or even ever really growing anything as a child. Her draw towards gardening and starting her own venture too, in a sense grew organically.
Looking at the garden adjacent to the newly re-opened Green Essentials center in Socorro, one can take her ‘city slicker’ claim with a pinch of salt. In the 60 sq mt garden, she has grown corn, that looks like the magical tree from ‘Jack in the Beanstalk’! She also grows brinjal, mustards, lettuce, beans, a variety of herbs, capsicum, spinach, onion, fennel, radish and more! Like a proud mum, Yogita says, “This was planted on November 23rd and we had our first harvest ready for our New Year’s eve party.” Trying to make a sense of it, she has been weighing her produce and generously distributes it to all who drop by.
Taking us back to where it started, Yogita shares, “I worked at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Goa for eight years and as is with any corporate job, soon realised that my direct impact with the environment was minimal.” Her inclination to this field was triggered by her earnestly trying to implement eco friendly practises at home, beginning with composting. Once she started using the compost pots by Daily Dump (an organisation that focuses on home composting units), she realised how simple it was to turn waste into manure.
One step led to another. Soon, she was growing her own little vegetable patch and experimenting. From growing three pots of mint, she trained her eyes on a neighbouring 35 sq mt plot and started growing different vegetables. Soon, friends and passersby were impressed and she became more confident in sharing her experience. Says Yogita, “There was a vacuum between information and the demand for it. We learnt from doing. Neither of us are trained agriculturists but we learnt from people like Miguel Braganza and others who have been very encouraging.”
Following her instinct, she established Green Essentials in 2008 and in 2011, held her first workshop at the International Centre in Dona Paula which received an overwhelming response. Soon, they started teaching and they had a garden to ‘show and tell’, that allowed people to be truly involved and get their hands dirty. Now, with ten years of experience behind them and the good will of clients, they regularly hold workshops at their Socorro centre and across Goa, extending now to Mumbai and Bengaluru too. Yogita is candid, “The Green Essentials store is a place for people to source their seeds which are open,c pollinated and not chemically treated. We are a one stop shop for everything related to gardening including buying pots, manure, pest repellant, fruit fly traps etc.”
Her “partner in creating a good ecosystem” is her husband Karan Manral who brings his marketing expertise to the business. As Yogita declares, “My wildest ideas are given wings, with his genuine incredulity in responding with a ‘Why not’?” Currently, both of them are in the process of developing their plant nursery to include all types of fruit bearing trees.