Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And when a little more variety comes to vegetables, especially the exotic ones, it is always a pleasure. Those who love a crunchy bite of fried kale as side dish or a piece of dragon fruit to nibble upon after meal, Aditi Vasu’s Green Goblin is the place to head for.
Green Goblin, a home-based venture started by entrepreneur Vasu in Chennai, sells exotic vegetables, fruits and herbs in the city. One can choose from a wide assortment of farm produce of the rare type like American kale, Thai brinjal, garlic chives, lavender, nasturtium, calendula, palm heart, dragon fruit, pomelo, avocado, strawberry, wide varieties of lettuce and many more.
Vasu, a graduate in Fine Arts from Stella Maris College in Chennai, has always shared her passion for gardening with her father and she even did the landscaping of their home garden. Later, when based in Sweden, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, she learnt about the benefits of the wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits grown in these countries that could be used to make delicious and nutritious salads. She used her stay overseas to learn about these produce and used this knowledge after she returned to Chennai in 2010.
“In India, ingredients are overcooked killing all the nutrients. Being a person who loves variety, it was very frustrating for me to cook with the same vegetables grown here day after day. So I decided to come up with a store that would provide exotic and rare vegetables, fruits and herbs to help discerning housewives hone their culinary skills and promote the health of her family,” says Vasu.
Started January this year, Green Goblin sources the produce from Trikaya, a 200-acre farm near Mumbai owned by Aditi’s cousin. The farm is managed very professionally as the family who owns it has been in the business for the last two decades. Only a minimum quantity of pesticides is used and no chemicals remain on the produce by the time they are harvested. “Wherever appropriate, the produce is washed effectively after harvesting and before packing and shipping. These are also chilled immediately to ensure freshness for a longer period. The vegetables and fruits are packed in standardised bio-packs with the size and quantity mentioned in the catalogues. The produce from the farms reach Chennai packed in thermocol boxes and are air freighted or sometimes ferried by trains too,” says she.
On being asked if it’s organic farming, she replies emphatically, “No. Definitely not.” She prefers to call it ‘gentleman farming’. “Most of the produce sold as organic are not really organic. Only three per cent is what it claims to be as a certain amount of chemicals go into farming which is unavoidable. Ours is what you would call ‘gentleman farming’ where no indiscriminate spraying of insecticides is used and farming is carried out in a responsible and proper manner.”
The 49-year-old entrepreneur, who manages the venture with massive help from her husband Aravind Vasu, considers the growth of her venture as amazing compared to the initial lukewarm response—just a group of friends were keen on buying the produce. She now receives orders close to 100 kgs of vegetables every week. “My clients are generally expatriates and those who have returned to India after living abroad for a length of time. An Italian couple who visited the store recently actually gaped at the display and exclaimed ‘Bellissima! you have changed our lives.’ For me that was the greatest reward for my efforts,” says Vasu.