People take up gardening for different reasons. For some, it is a form of relaxation. Many people derive a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in seeing the crops they have planted and nurtured grow and be harvested without chemicals. During the pandemic, gardening offered furloughed workers and people working from home an activity to occupy their free time, while also easing concerns over food security as sales of fruit, herb, and vegetable seeds increased worldwide.
For banker Lyndi Singh, 30, from San Juan, she was able to transform her hobby and passion for gardening into a business.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Wednesday, Singh said, “I started when the pandemic hit Trinidad in March 2020. Before that, I wasn’t into gardening, I was too busy to even think of anything like that.
“When we began rotation at work, I had more time on my hands and was able to learn more about myself and what I might be passionate about.
“Being bored is a good thing! I realised I loved plants and connecting with nature. Herbs By Lyn started with one lemongrass plant. I loved the scent of that plant! I went crazy over it!” she said laughing.
Singh started with baby steps, clearing out a small area outside her house that was covered with rubble and overgrown with bush as nobody maintained the area.
She added grow boxes and pots, quickly transforming the ‘jungle’ area into a sort of zen garden with a neat pathway through the crops. Next, Singh was able to expand further after she received a vertical hydroponic system for Christmas in 2020. She revealed that she started experimenting with different crops that could grow in the hydroponic tower, beginning with herbs and testing with pak choi and other leafy vegetables.
Singh’s first customer was a friend who owned a diner and she was interested in tarragon. “At that moment I was able to envision myself supplying exotic herbs through Herbs By Lyn.” By this time she had a range of herbs such as basil, purple basil, mint, tarragon, and parsley.
She received motivation from her friends who encouraged her along the path of entrepreneurship. She continued with that support and encouragement and got carried away with it. Singh created her brand with the help of a graphic artist friend for her fledgling business venture, Herbs By Lyn.
She admitted that she was faced with several bumps and challenges along the way, having to deal with pests and infestations. Singh was a regular supporter of agriculture economist Omardath Maharaj and his wife, Gaytree’s Yard Market in Chase Village, where she would go to gather as much information as possible as they were very knowledgeable in agriculture. They would have long discussions about soil types for crops, types of herbs suitable for vertical planters, types of organic sprays for pest control while absorbing as much information from Maharaj and Gaytree as possible.
Singh was able to build a stronger network through several gardening groups on Facebook. She got a lot of information from like-minded people who would share and discuss their personal experiences and give advice which she used to her advantage.
Soon enough, Singh had reached a point where she wanted to offer her products to supermarkets, but she needed more growing space and was looking to expand.
Describing herself as being dedicated to what she was doing, Singh said she was a bit of a perfectionist who liked to see her produce being ‘green, nice and fresh.’
Singh was also trying to do more exotic-type herbs that you don’t usually get in the market such as dill, tarragon, marjoram, fennel, and lemon balm. She is also growing medicinal herbs such as Gotu Kola and is currently experimenting with tea blends.
Singh reminisced that in her hectic life with work and studying for her ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) exams, gardening was a good hobby that gave her peace of mind, relaxation and balance in life as it got her connected with nature. If it can help bring in an income, that is beneficial as well. When asked if she had any advice for people who may have lost their job during the pandemic and wanted to start selling garden produce, she said that they should follow their passion and do what their heart loves.
Singh intimated that tending to her garden was a form of therapy for her. When she enters into that flow state, she can’t stop, one thing leads to the other and then to another…”do what you love and let it be your therapy.”
Yard Market (YM) co-founder Omardath Maharaj said YM coupled with the dynamics of a pandemic and rising global interest in food systems and supply offered him the opportunity to bring together a range of skills and practices in agricultural marketing, entrepreneurship, business development as well as general agriculture.
He revealed that initially, the concept was to demonstrate to his own students at the UWI how to create business opportunities linked to agriculture.
Maharaj said that it later created a source of livelihood for his family as well as several others who joined the entrepreneurship hub along the way such as Herbs by Lyn.
• Herbs by Lyn can be found
on Facebook and Instagram.