Graduated in agro-engineering, Prateek Tiwari recognized the potential of organic products long before their enormous popularity today. To simplify the farm-to-fork supply chain, Prateek started an organic farming business in 2003, but it quickly closed in 2006.
“There was no organized retail business at the time. It was also difficult to convince farmers not to use pesticides, ”says Prateek. Social history.
However, Prateek sees this failure as a “negative inspiration”, which prompted him to build The Living Greens over the past eight years. The Jaipur based company was built with a unique idea: “What if people could grow organic produce right on their rooftops? ”
Most of the time, residential roofs are redundant. These vacant spaces can be converted into food spaces. However, key elements like a standardized packaging or product and experiential knowledge were missing.
Currently underway, the Living Greens spent the first four years building their product – a portable farming system.
“We focused on creating a biological kit, which includes a combination of sprays and root fertilizer with modern biocontrol agents and vedic formulations, like neem-based formulations, ”explains Prateek.
Once the startup acquires a client, they try to understand their interests and, depending on factors such as the season, provide them with the right basics and advice.
The Living Greens ships the system in pieces, which can be reassembled and self-installed by the customer using the startup’s online support. To date, it has sold between 5,000 and 6,000 systems.
“The pandemic has really catalyzed interest in [our product]”, says Prateek.
As people were stuck in their homes after the onset of COVID-19, they began to recognize the unused space that existed on their patio and saw the potential to do something with it.
Big impact of small changes
For the customers of The Living Greens, getting fresh organic fruits and vegetables is a big benefit, but adding green roofing to the roofs has long-term benefits as well.
“As you cover the roofs, the building doesn’t heat up as much. When the heat decreases, electricity consumption also decreases, ”explains Prateek.
Cooler, long-term buildings also mean cooler cities. “Cities are also surrounded by green spaces and as a result cities become areas of low pressure, which attract more air pollution,” he says. Growing plants also helps in this regard, as they absorb carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen.
In fact, reducing the supply chain and the distance from farm to fork adds significantly to sustainability.
Prateek points out that by increasing urban organic farming, people have the opportunity to eat fresh produce compared to vegetables and fruits bought in the market, which start to lose their freshness over time.
“My whole life has been invested in telling governments and people to wake up to this thought,” Prateek shares. He recalls meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sharing this idea with him, where the Prime Minister told the team that such initiatives should be part of Smart City missions.
However, Prateek says investors are looking for massive growth in a short period versus tangible and intangible long-term benefits, which is one of the startup’s main challenges in growing its business.
Increase impact and empower people
With a base in Delhi-RCN, The Living Greens has a clientele of more than 1,500 people in 25 cities and continues to grow. It is also associated with Government of Bihar for India’s largest rooftop agriculture project, which will cover 1,500 houses, subsidized by the government.
Another key part of The Living Greens business is green walls, which can be built indoors or outdoors and help cool buildings. In addition to improving the aesthetics of the property, these walls also help make them more environmentally friendly and reduce air and noise pollution. “We have completed 50,000 square feet of green walls,” adds Prateek.
In order to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged women, The Living Greens has launched a “Mahila Mali” program. Currently, she employs two women who provide maintenance services. The startup wants to extend this program to young migrants.
With expansion on the horizon and increased interest in organic farming, The Living Greens is looking to create a network of city business partners who can also help with on-site maintenance and provide hands-on assistance to its customers. end users.
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