Five years ago in 2017, ‘Garden Up’ started from a small room in the hostel of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The one who started it was Ekta Chaudhary, who was doing research in ecology from this institute. Today he has more than 140 million followers on YouTube and 2.5 thousand people follow him on Instagram. Garden-Up, a YouTube channel started out of his passion for gardening, has now grown into a successful startup.
Born in a middle-class family in Haryana, Ekta Chaudhary had a penchant for plants and trees early on. There were many trees and plants in her house, which Ekta took care to water every day. Many times it happened that there was a shortage of water in the house. The water only came once. In this situation, he had to water the plants very carefully. Taking care of the trees and plants, talking to them, Ekta developed this relationship with them, as is the case with a newborn child. They become part of your being.
academic studies are also botanical
Perhaps this must have been the reason why many of its academics are also related to the study of plants and trees. In 2010, Ekta did her BA in Life Sciences from the University of Delhi Miranda House. After that, he did his post graduation in Environmental Science from Forest Research Institute, Dehradun.
Between 2012 and 2018, when he was pursuing his PhD in ecology at the Institute of Scientific Research in Bangalore, he started planting saplings in small pots in a small room in his hostel. Even while studying at the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, he often had to go to the dense forests of Garhwal for research projects. There would be an opportunity to spend hours with different types of plants and plants.
From an academic point of view, all the students had studied the same subject. Everyone went to the same woods, among the same trees and plants, but the question of unity was different. His association with plants, trees, forests was very personal.
Ekta talks to the plants with so much love
How deep this connection is, is felt in the words spoken and written by him. When he talks about plants, when he explains the science behind everyday things like weeding and watering and their importance, then he doesn’t just talk in a scientific and academic way. He speaks as if the plants are listening and hearing his words. The more affection and love we speak to it, the greener it will be. The greenness of the plants means their happiness. And the thing to see is the happiness on Ekta’s face and the sparkle in her eyes as she talks all this.
35 plants in the hostel room and the vegetable garden in the laboratory
Ekta says, “For the first time in 2017, I made my first YouTube video. At that time there were about 30-40 small plants in my small hostel room. I had also made a small garden in the lab. Ekta he says that PhD work is very long and tiring. One has to sit in the lab for hours. In this situation, after a long and tiring day, it is a great relief to spend some time with the plants in the evening.
Little by little, he started making small videos and uploading them to YouTube. She herself used to record videos with her cell phone camera during the weekend. Waking up early in the morning, he would go to the laboratory so that he could record the vegetable garden there in the morning light. The quality of his initial videos was also very basic, but because there was a kind of beauty, depth and connection in his words, people kept joining his channel.
YouTube channel Garden Up, which started as an amateur in 2017, took the form of a company in 2018. Ekta started an online retail store, where you will find variety of plants, planters and everything related to gardening . Here not only the products are found, but also all the information about them is given.
Depending on your special needs, what plants to plant, how to care for them, all related information and answers to all kinds of questions can be found at Garden Up. If you live in Mumbai, your plant needs will be different from those in Delhi. When Garden Up gives you tips on how to make your home green, it takes into account all aspects, such as the size of your house, the climate of the city, the amount of sunlight on your balcony or terrace, etc.
Ekta not only gives information related to gardening on her blog and YouTube channel but also explains a lot of science behind it in very simple and easy language. While Ekta writes about mangroves in one of her posts,
“The (coastal) ecosystem is incredible. Do you know that mangroves protect our land from storms, cyclones and tsunamis? These plants have the magical ability to grow their roots in the opposite direction of gravity. They protect the earth.”
Ekta says, “Gardening is like meditation for me. Every morning after I wake up, I spend some time with the plants. Pruning yellow and dry leaves, weeding pots, watering, keeping some in the sun and others in the shade. Each plant has different needs. This morning is necessary to keep my whole day fresh. It’s like meditation. It makes my heart happy.”
Corporate workshops and gardening classes
Two years ago, people were locked in their homes for a long time due to Kovid and the long lockdown. The confinement was having a very negative effect on people’s mental health. Ekta says, “A lot of scientific research shows that trees, plants and gardening have a positive effect on our mental health. It is also helpful in keeping the mind calm and focused.
During the lockdown, many people tried to fulfill their hobby of gardening and thus kept a positive mind. But many corporate companies also during this period, considering the mental health of their employees, started holding corporate gardening workshops to motivate and engage them creatively.
Ekta’s company Garden Up initially conducted several online corporate workshops. Later, after the end of the lockdown and the return to normal life, these corporate workshops also started to take place physically. Today Garden Up organizes gardening workshops for companies, institutes and other organisations. Apart from this, Ekta also conducts gardening courses and classes.
Over 100 plants in a 1000 square foot house
Ekta’s 1000 square feet house in Mumbai has more than 1000 plants. Apart from this, it also has a small garden, in which different types of vegetables grow. Ekta also explains how to buy the right plants, make compost at home and propagate plants on her channel and blog. Apart from this, he also does the work of designing gardens for people on a contract basis.
Today five people work full-time in Ekta’s company and apart from that she works in collaboration with many women, artists and groups. The decorative pots and home decor items sold at Garden Up are made by women artisans and craftspeople living in Mumbai and the surrounding cities and towns. This platform, which started as an amateur, has today become a successful business, through which Ekta is also employing many people.