So We Grow

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UAE gardening start-up SoWeGrow aims to empower residents to become home farmers

‘The Organic Gardening Expert by SoWeGrow’ is a first of its kind video and mentorship programme in the UAE with tailored advice addressing Middle East weather and soil conditions. Dr. Nasser Rego, co-founder of SoWeGrow is a professional Organic Farmer and provides mentorship in Arabic and English. We find out more.

Imagine, stepping out into your balcony or backyard in Dubai to pick a juicy cluster of rainbow-coloured cherry tomatoes, sprigs of Italian basil and crisp lettuce leaves for the evening’s dinner. And the best part – you grew every single one of those vegetables!

As the UAE seeks to address the necessity to achieve self-sufficiency in food through the UAE National Food Security Strategy 2051, SoWeGrow, a UAE-based home-grown initiative is aiming to give birth to a new cadre of home gardeners who know how to grow like farming pros.

The startup’s latest offering is ‘The Organic Gardening Expert’, a first-of-its-kind video and mentorship programme that brings the organic farm to UAE residents’ homes through full-HD videos, available in Arabic and English detailing EVERYTHING about organic vegetable gardening – from a discussion on the soil, the seed, how to start seeds, how to transplant, how to take care and maintain, how to irrigate, detailed video guides for how to grow favourites like tomato, cucumber and eggplant, how to manage pests and disease organically, how to ensure the longevity of the  garden, and more.

The course is taught by Dr. Nasser Rego, a professional organic farmer that has setup 2 successful organic farms that today feed nearly 200 families fresh, organic veggies everyday.

‘The Organic Gardening Expert’, also includes detailed crop guides for 24 vegetables, monthly expert webinars so aspiring farmers can learn first-hand from other experts how to compost at home, how to fertilize soil, irrigate efficiently, grow desert plants, and even make money from their gardening passion. There is a bounty of other material within the programme like resources, calendars, logs, checklists, and access to an exclusive community of like-minded gardeners.

The result? A thriving organic edible garden in the balcony or backyard in a single season without years and years of trial and error and guesswork.

“Our mission, to bring thriving home gardens to 1,000 households in the UAE, dovetails purposefully with the UAE’s drive towards becoming more food secure, in a major part through sustainable agriculture. Through ‘The Organic Gardening Expert’ we enable everyone – even those without ‘green thumbs’ or prior experience in gardening – to participate in bringing about that reality. Deserts make conditions difficult for growing vegetables, but we, like the nation, are up to the challenge!” – Dr. Nasser Rego.

Nasser Rego shares what it takes to be a successful home gardener in the UAE!

These are the practices and traits that you need to adopt. This is not just what I practice, but what other successful home gardeners also do. I discovered this through work with other home gardeners that have been successful in their craft. So, what are they?

1. Believe in organic. You need to believe in the benefits of growing organic – that it is good – good for your health, good for your well-being, good for your physicality and good for the earth. When you do that, you’re more likely to follow-through on growing successfully than if you were indifferent about the benefit of organic (cleaner, no harmful pesticides) versus conventionally grown produce (with pesticides).

2. You need to commit to it. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the home garden isn’t either! BUT, instead of taking several years, we can show you how you can achieve it in a single growing season. When we talk about commitment, we mean you need to check in on your vegetables every day, at least for 20 minutes a day.

3. You need to follow the right formulas. Just as good cooks follow formulas when preparing pizza or machboos or baingan bharta to produce lip-smacking delight, it’s the same thing with plants. Plants need the right mixes when starting your seeds, planting them in their main growing area, when fertilizing them, and when using organic pesticide mixes/sprays to fight off bugs and disease. There’s also formulas for spaing, when to harvest etc. If you enjoy your pizza done right, then I’m sure you’ll value the importance of following formulas!

4. Be generous. This is of course, good life advice… and it also applies to your plants. When it comes to fertilization, you need to be generous. Use compost, vermicompost, liquid fertilizer. When you feed the soil and feed your plants, your plants will reward you with excellent produce!

5. Be proactive. You need to be proactive with your pest management + maintenance! That way, you can catch bugs and diseases before they become too big a problem. As mentioned before, that means checking on your plants for 20-or-so minutes every day!

Do you have these 5 traits? What do you think you need to improve on? Do you have any other traits you think are important to be successful in veg gardening?

For more information, contact Nasser


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