Bengaluru-based urban gardener Manikandan Pattabiraman began his gardening journey in childhood — encouraged by his parents and grandfather. “I initially got into gardening when I was still a kid in the fourth grade. My family moved into a house on the outskirts of Chennai with ample space on the rooftop, and the ground. My father and I got into gardening actively,” recalls the now 40-year-old.
The father-son duo grew tomatoes, chilli, okra, amaranthus, beans and coconut trees. Manikandan’s maternal grandfather is also a farmer, and every time he visited the village, he visited several nurseries that further piqued his interest. “The repository of knowledge grew over the years. I kept collecting seeds and grew plants, but in Chennai’s weather, most of them wouldn’t survive. So, in a way, you could say I killed more plants than I grew. But, I learnt over the years,” laughs Manikandan.
The IT professional began a blog — Geek Gardener — which now has several readers who regularly receive gardening hacks and tips. Knowing his heart lay in tilling the soil and nurturing all things green, he quit his job in 2013 and started his venture — Hyperfarms. Here, he began selling gardening inputs for kitchens and rooftops, DIY kits and has hosted workshops on farming techniques. Here, he began selling gardening inputs for kitchens and rooftops, DIY kits and has hosted workshops on farming techniques.
Manikandan also gradually picked up hydroponics, a form of soil-less farming, and has helped over ten people set up their commercial farms. They further helped over 5,000 people begin their gardens through the sale of their DIY kits and have a repeat customer base of 10,000 avid gardeners who buy inputs from them regularly.
Additionally, Manikandan has his farm set-ups across Bengaluru where he grows leafy vegetables like spinach, basil, neem, kale, arugula, Bok Choy, etc. using Hydroponics. Every month, they sell about eight to ten tonnes of these leafy greens to aggregators who sell to customers.
Read more at The Better India (Angarika Gogoi)