Hi Manisha! We have heard a lot about your love of plants, gardening and the awareness you are spreading regarding it! Why don’t you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Hello everyone, my name is Manisha and I am from Jaipur. I used to be a management student some time ago, but not anymore. Currently, I am spreading the word about edible gardening and working with people of all ages to start growing their own food.
Q – Wow, that sounds really interesting! So , what actually is edible Gardening?
Well, how I see it and how I explain edible gardening to people is to know about how to grow their own food and to know about the wild but edible plants that grow on their own as per their soil health. Aptly enough, It is sometimes also called lazy gardening. Personally, I absolutely enjoy this kind of farming, because I get to have a relaxed environment around me and I can work peacefully, away from the chaos. I always had the desire of living in a space full of diversity and to stay connected with the natural cycle of changes.
Q – Haha, wow! This is just perfect for the new generation which is so used to getting everything directly on the plate! So how did you really land with this lazy gardening technique?
Well, to be honest, I never really liked Gardening (laughing). And to let you in a secret, I am still an amateur, and I am more of a brown thumb person than a green thumb person, that is why I am more into soil regeneration than greening the space. But my gardening escapade actually began when I started growing food with the existing soil health, compost, container, and dry leaves – collected from streets. I was lucky enough to witness the moment when insects were breaking down the dry leaves which led to the improvement of soil health. After that, I realized how gardening had such immediate and evident results with such paltry efforts. So as I started doing it more regularly and realized how surprisingly easy it was.
I am grateful for the support I received from the people like Shammi, Deepti, Ajit and the other Gardening Community of Jaipur & the people who were open to Grow food at home.
Q – Haha, grand! So you created the life and space you wanted ha! Love that attitude! How did you get in touch with these people?
So, I was always worried about the harm that we humans are causing to the environment but I was not aware of “what role I can play here?”. Gradually I realized the I need to know & understand the basic principles of life that exist on the earth which took the form of a self-learning journey that started from waste segregation for composting. Later I thought of doing minimal-waste-cooking, in which I decided that there should be minimum kitchen waste going out of my kitchen. That is how I got to know all of these people gradually since they were already working in these areas.
Apart from that I also wanted to work on plastic waste management but somehow I haven’t been able to work on it since I am already up in arms with all this work. Although still, I have immensely cut down the consumption of new plastic and I try to recycling everything now. Earlier my parents were not really thrilled by these ventures of mine because they felt this is something that has to be done by the government. But slowly they realized how determined I was towards this project and now I have their unwavering support, which I’m absolutely glad about because It took me almost 2 years to gain their confidence and enabling to do the same.
Q – Wow, your family got inspired due to your awareness. Must have been a tough task! Everyone says charity starts at home, but it is seldom that people are actually able to do that! So apart from your parents, who else did you inspire and convert by your journey?
There are few people that have been inspired by my work like my neighbors, their kids, and my relatives. After a year i started, my neighbors and their children started visiting the garden. It became like a community garden for neighboring children where they were growing vegetables, bringing the segregated vegetable peels from home for composting & later few of them has started doing the same at their home.
My relatives: they had started exploring organic farming & how they can grow vegetables at their home. They had the taste of freshly harvested vegetables from my garden.
The life I am leading needs patience & determination. I meet a lot of people who are interested in gardening projects and they talk to me about it. But the problem lies in the execution, there is very little execution compared to the impulsive enthusiasm.
Q – Ya, I have seen that a lot! People get inspired in workshops and then going back home and returning to their jobs! But eventually, they all have to do their jobs in order to live! On that note, How are you able to support yourself along with this project?
Well, with the current support that I am getting from the community, I make enough to support my other projects. I am in the very initial stage of my career and I believe what I am doing is for the greater good and not for commercial value. I do plan on going in that direction sooner or later, but as of now, I am able to sustain myself and my projects easily through this business. That is why when I look for prospective clients, I always see that they are not looking for immediate results but are open to all new experiments.
Because eventually one of my aims is also to be consciously holistic. So if some client is not physically and mentally involved in the gardening, I do no proceed with the project.
Q – Wow, strong ideals, admirable! So, do you have a team or you manage all of this alone?
Well, I am a very lazy person, haha (laughing) and my style of work is constructed around it. So I change my work seasonally, for example in summers when it is too hot, I like to work indoors, making seed balls and taking activity sessions, while in winters and rainy season, I am keener on working outdoors with the gardening.
Q- Superb! And what is your ultimate goal with the project?
So when I started my journey, every single time I wanted to try anything new with gardening I was told that there has to be a certain investment of money. Therefore, I would like to be that medium through which people can educate themselves about the basics of gardening and also realize that gardening requires your heart and soul and not a big wallet to start.
Wow Manisha, you won us there with the last line! We are sure, we would be collaborating with you on the SocialGram community space, where we are trying to build this nature-oriented cafe cum community space, where artists, musicians, creators, and innovators can come and hang around!
Looking forward to growing a lot of trees, and plants!
We wish you all the luck in the world Manisha! What you are doing takes immense amounts of courage, and strong intent, which we could clearly see in the conversation with you! Hope you are able to achieve all of your pure and impressively eco-conscious goals!