Urbanization in India is at its peak, converting once fertile farmlands to build tall structures. The Living Greens founder, Prateek Tiwari, asked the question, "How can we recreate the same fertile land in areas that have become urbanized?" Answering that question resulted in India’s first and largest urban organic farming company that has created innovative products to convert un-used urban spaces (e.g., rooftops, small plots) into organic food-producing spaces.
Rddhi Rajaguru Raja
Western Michigan University
The idea of converting unused urban spaces to organic farming systems is proving to be very successful. Mr. Prateek Tiwari started with a small idea about how to grow your own vegetables, pesticide-free. The idea grew to create a product, the portable farming system, which enables clients to grow vegetables on their rooftops and use other unused spaces in urban settings. Mr. Tiwari started by initially educating people about agriculture and pesticides. However, he discovered that most of his clients were professionals such as doctors, chartered accountants, and lawyers who had no time to understand agriculture. Said Prateek, "I realized knowledge should be productized" which led him to create an Organic Input Kit consisting of organic sprays and organic root fertilizers. The business has since grown to include a robust online support system that today supports over 1,000 clients across India.
Mr. Prateek Tiwari started an organic farming company in the early 2000s that was, as he put it, "way ahead of its time" because a retail market for organic vegetables did not yet exist in India. Facing insurmountable odds, Prateek shut down the business and went back to working in the corporate sector.
However, his love for organic farming never abated. He now admits that one of his key motivations to start The Living Greens was that while working in the corporate sector and enjoying the air-conditioned offices, family members of his were passing away due to illnesses caused by the consumption of pesticides. He then decided to solve the problem in an innovative manner.
Mr. Tiwari wanted people to grow their own vegetables, which would ensure that people are consuming healthy vegetables. This inspiration led to his creation of the portable farming system, the organic input kit, and eventually the online support system.
Mr. Tiwari's idea got a significant boost when the state government of Bihar decided to subsidize the expense of rooftop farming for 1500 farm projects in the state. Says Prateek, "We moved from an individual level to an institutional level to a mass level." The government has started to appreciate the idea of giving back as well.
Mr. Tiwari feels there is still a very long road ahead of them to fulfill their vision but when he sees the numbers and their expansion across different states in India, he knows there his business is having an impact. He strongly believes that it’s the small things that really matter.
Over the years, The Living Greens has served over 1,000 clients spread across 22 cities with over 100,000 square feet of rooftop space covered under organic farming. They have sold over 2,000 Portable Farming Systems (rooftop farming units)
He wanted to give back to nature and seeing the business or the innovation in itself trying to impact not only sustainable production and consumption but also more sustainable cities with their latest innovation of building indoor and outdoor green walls. The Living Greens is also impacting urban infrastructures in a more sustainable way. As more people are moving and migrating around the urban areas, The Living Greens is ready and equipped to provide a more sustainable living environment promoting urban agriculture.
One key indicator of how the innovation benefits the business is that it has attracted venture capital. The company was founded in 2013 with the backing of non-resident investors (NRI’s) living in San Francisco. Angel investors clearly saw a promising business model with considerable potential.
The Living Greens’ innovation capitalizes on a growing market culture of consumer interest in sustainability as well as good health and well-being. Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and they want to consume organics. What better way than from ones’ own garden?
Many health-conscious people live in large cities and may not have the space to grow their own organic food. This idea is so attractive that the state government of Bihar subsidized a project for 1,500 rooftop farms. The success of the innovation is very evident when we see the expansion of the innovation across different cities in India from Bhopal, to Pondicherry, Jalandhar, Pune, Haridwar, Lucknow, and Jabalpur.
The world population is growing, and India is among the fastest-growing developing countries in the world. With this comes rapid urbanization and cities continuing to fill with people. This places stress on urban food supply systems and increases carbon emissions. Rooftop farming increases the local food supply and plants help to offset carbon emissions. In addition, small-scale urban agriculture offers employment and a potentially relaxing place to be amongst a bustling city.
Growing concerns about the use of pesticides and their negative effect on both people and the environment are eased with organic farming. Eating organics help citizens stay healthy and be more productive members of society as well as providing a sustainable medium for agricultural production.
Aside from benefitting society generally, The Living Greens has had a direct impact on residents of cities they serve. Over 50 rural youth have been trained in urban organic farming. Additionally, over 500 families have been trained to grow fresh organic vegetables on their rooftops spread across 22 cities in ten Indian states.
Mr. Prateek Tiwari, Founder and CEO
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Jaipur, Rajasthan, IN
Business Website: https://Thelivinggreens.com
Year Founded: 2013
Number of Employees: 11 to 50