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Reema’s Garden – teaching the urban world to go green through gardening

"If you want to be happy for a lifetime be a gardener." Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi
Nothing is more healing than a garden in your backyard. Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi

The Lifestyle Portal’s 2nd Entrepreneurs’ Meetup in Pune proved to be an eye-opener. This time, I got to meet some fantastic entrepreneurs who are venturing out for the first time in fields that were either as hobbies or completely unknown to them.

During the meetup, I met Reema, a Gardener from Pune. Yes, a gardener. I was so fascinated when I heard her talk about gardening as a profession and I thought it was so ‘refreshingly brave’ in this digital age. I am personally very fond of gardening and have been looking to brush up my gardening skills and the universe brought me to Reema’s Garden.

A couple of weeks after our entrepreneurs’ meetup, I attended her Gardening Workshop along with my 7-year-old daughter and I found it to be one of the most fascinating experiences.

It was as if my brain received a fresh boost of oxygen, because in this digital age, here is one woman who is teaching you how to plant a sapling and nurture it. The learnings are profound and so deep-rooted that you realise that it is connected to you as well.

The Lifestyle Portal is extremely proud to introduce 30-year-old Pune-based Gardener, Reema Gopalan, the Founder of Reema’s Garden. We’re elated to be the first ones to share her entrepreneurial journey on our platform.

Reema Gopalan, Founder, Reema's Garden
Reema Gopalan, Founder, Reema’s Garden

How did it all begin?

Reema had started gardening in September 2015 and by August 2016 she was so much in love with it that she wanted to share it with the world. “I did what anybody else would do; I started blogging about it! For more than a year I was just happy blogging. Back then I was working with an MNC and blogging, and gardening were just “hobbies and passion”. Then in November 2017 I conducted my first workshop, in Mulund, Mumbai and there was no looking back,” smiles Reema.

“Initially I was conducting workshops only in Mumbai because I had a very good network there. Once I got married I relocated to Pune and then it came to a point that I could no longer do the Mumbai-Pune travelling. I also realised that not having my own space was one of the biggest hurdles because I was not able to conduct the workshops as frequently as I would like to because I was relying on other venues. Finally, in October 2019 I got my own studio in Dhayari, Pune and things started taking shape,” adds Reema.

Was gardening a long-harboured dream?

“Oh No! Not at all,” says Reema. “Initially it was just a hobby. When I started blogging about it, I got a very good response which kept me going. I tried new things, I grew all sorts of vegetables, made tons of mistakes, experimented a lot, sought solutions to all major and minor gardening and gardening related problems and it just kept going on,” she adds.

Investments made

Reema’s initial investments were negligible. As she explained, she incurred an expense only from workshop to workshop for inventory and venue. Hence, there was no investment as such. However, she adds, “But over the years, I realised the importance of having a formal business set up and I have now invested in the setting up a business place.”

Reema conducting a workshop
Reema conducting a workshop. Photo courtesy: Reema’s Garden.

Challenges faced

Reema explains that one of the BIGGEST challenges of gardening (especially Kitchen Gardening) is that, you can never predict the results. You can do everything right and yet not have the desired result and you have to be absolutely fine with it. There are so many variables involved like plant nutrition, season, pest, pollination, and many more.

The second biggest challenge is assessing and reviewing the result. When you don’t get the desired result, how do assess what went wrong? Was it the lack of nutrition or inadequate pollination?

Was it soil texture or the grow bag? Of course, there are some definite parameters by which you can tell what went wrong but that’s very limited. Trial and error are the only way.

Hence, the challenge is to make people enjoy the process more than the result!

Gardening Workshops offered at Reema’s Garden

Currently, Reema conducts three primary workshops:

  • Beginners – Here you learn the basics of gardening like getting your soil right, how to pot your plant, dealing with pests and more.
  • Advanced – In the advanced workshop, you learn how to grow your own herbs, leafy vegetables and all-season vegetables.
  • Expert – This workshop teaches you about climbers, creepers, building trellis, pollination, and underground vegetables.
  • Kids – Reema is coming up with a Kids’ Workshop too.
  • Customised – Other than the above, Reema can also customise and curate workshops and Seminars for corporates as well.
Understanding the soil at Reema's Gardening Workshop.
Understanding the types of soils ideal for plants at Reema’s Gardening Workshop.

How are these workshops designed

For Reema, these workshops have a dynamic and versatile design. “I keep redoing the curriculum, the method of presentation based on the feedback. For instance, I have so far tried a purely theoretical class, to a demonstration-based workshop to full-fledged theory and hands-on practical workshops. Feedback is the main source of knowing whether or not people like it,” she mentions.

Reema conducted her first workshop on 19th November 2017 in Mumbai. Reema shares, since she did not have her own studio, she was hugely relying on other locations to conduct my workshops and hence was not very consistent with her workshops.

She further adds, “Then around February 2018, I had pivoted to create my own NGO for an agricultural project, which didn’t take off because of lack of funds and other resources. I spent more than a year pursuing the agro-project before finally putting it to a halt. Then finally I mustered all the courage I could, to start afresh. I got a space in Dhayari, Pune in October 2019 and started conducting gardening workshops!”

Understanding the health & wellbeing of the plants.
Understanding the health & wellbeing of plants.

Response from clients attending the gardening workshops

Reema’s Beginner’s workshop became a huge hit and she’s hopeful that once she launches the kid’s workshop it will also become popular.

So far, her major clients have been gardening enthusiasts who have tried gardening but couldn’t do it very successfully and need some guidance on how to go about it. Clients connect with her through social media mainly Facebook and Instagram.

Getting hands on experience. Photo courtesy: Reema's Garden
Getting hands on experience. Photo courtesy: Reema’s Garden

What makes Reema’s Garden so unique

According to Reema, there are three aspects that make Reema’s Garden unique:

  • I am always available for my participants. I am still in touch with the participants from my 2017 workshop. Even when I had pivoted to work on my Agro-Project, I was always available for them. I am just a call away.
  • I now have a dedicated studio, where workshops keep happening on a regular basis.
  • I believe in empowering. So tomorrow if anyone approaches me saying, Reema I want to start conducting Gardening Workshops, I’ll help them with all the resources I can and also help them in setting up their business. I believe in collaboration and not in competition.
Safeguarding our plants against pests and diseases.
Safeguarding our plants against pests and diseases.

Awareness about gardening

Reema and I further discussed whether there is a healthy awareness about gardening, and she shares, “No, not at all. In fact, gardening even today is construed just as another hobby. I believe, gardening has a solution for all major urban problems – may it be stress, pollution, urban waste management, sensitizing children towards nature and sustainability. Gardening has the power to transform people, communities and societies.”

She further explains, “Take the example of Mumbai, due to awareness about waste management, many people/housing societies are taking the efforts to convert their waste into compost, which is commendable. But due to lack of awareness about gardening, they are struggling as to what to do with the compost. Gardening is the only way to put compost to good use!”

Reema also adds, “For instance in Delhi, look at the pollution levels! Now just imagine, each family deciding to have their own garden with just three plants. It looks so small, isn’t it?  But collectively Delhi will have millions of plants. Don’t you think that will help? The good thing about gardening is we all can do our bit. Collectively it looks great, but even on a minuscule/individual level it’s equally good.”

Why should we all learn gardening?

Reema shares, “Gardening helps us become better individuals. We develop an objective view that we never had before. It’s such a beautiful process, happening on a subconscious level. To add to it, we become aware of our surroundings, environment and farming. Sustainability, minimalism and intentional living that is now introduced as a “lifestyle concepts” become your lifestyle naturally and effortlessly.”

Introducing gardening in schools is the need of the hour.
Introducing gardening in schools is the need of the hour.

Should gardening be a part of the school curriculum?

As a mother, I firmly believe that education is not limited to a classroom. When my daughter plays in the mud in the park, along with her friends, there is no bigger learning than that. They are using all their five senses to understand the soil, the mud and all its parts, without the pressure of exams or marks. I think that is such a fabulous way to learn and I wish schools and colleges would adopt gardening and agriculture as the future desperately depends on going green.

When sharing my sentiments with Reema, she agreed too. “Yes indeed. Firstly, introducing gardening in schools will sensitize our children towards nature. Rather than just theoretical knowledge, having a practical insight always helps. Secondly, it’s our duty to introduce them to this new hobby, just like art and craft. Whether they pursue it or not, is their choice. Making them aware of it, is our duty.” And we second that, Reema!

Future plans with Reema’s Garden

Reema is keen to open more Gardening Hubs through a franchise model. She also wants to start a ‘train the trainer’ course in gardening as well. On a personal level, she is currently writing a book on Gardening and also soon going to launch a digital course on gardening.

It's all begins with one little plant to make the world a greener place. Photo courtesy: Reema's Garden.
It’s all begins with one little plant to make the world a greener place. Photo courtesy: Reema’s Garden.

The response so far…

It’s been just over two months and Reema is elated with the response she’s been getting. “Even people who have just read about my workshops on social media have called me up, enquired about it and said that I am doing a great job. As an entrepreneur, every day I learn something new. I also learnt a lot of things in the transition from being a homepreneur to an entrepreneur. I entered an altogether new market i.e. Pune, where nobody knew me, and I am setting up everything from scratch. I also learnt that whatever you do, you will fall short, but it’s your duty to keep pushing your limits.  It’s been very challenging and satisfying at the same time,” adds Reema with a twinkle in her eyes.

To book a workshop at Reema’s Garden, click here.

~”If you want to be happy for a lifetime be a gardener.” Unknown ~

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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