Fun, funky growing with new Dubai-based online garden centre My Green Chapter
History tells us that the French queen Marie Antoinette took pleasure in dressing as a shepherdess and pottering around her Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet) – a small, impeccably designed farm set among the royal grounds of Versailles.
The launch of the Dubai-based online garden supplier My Green Chapter is poised to capture a similar mood by catering to the design-conscious lady and gentleman gardeners of the UAE, facilitating a stylish approach to a more back-to-earth lifestyle.
Jean-Charles Hameau – an agricultural engineer by profession and UAE resident for 18 years – has founded his new company in response to the burgeoning urban garden movement around the world. He cites the greening of post-recession Detroit, where urban agriculture has sprung up across numerous plots of land across the city, as evidence that the desire to green up our urban environments can take root anywhere. As city dwellers are turning their hand to growing their own food – and finding a sense of purpose and connectedness in the process – Hameau felt the time was ripe to elevate gardening from something that is often delegated in the UAE, to a broader, productive, relaxing pastime for the wider community.
He began by supplying small-scale chicken coops, having met a supplier in Europe who indicated that there were already many exports to the GCC.
“In Europe, this is already a huge craze: our supplier sold more than 250,000 coops across just three countries, with the trend now going to the US,” Hameau says.
While local sales were initially focused on Emirati families with land and smallholdings in areas such as Al Khawaneej, the coops are now also being taken up in residential compounds with small gardens. Two or three chickens will produce two or three eggs daily, and require only 12 square metres of space to happily peck about in. It may be the Chinese Year of the Rooster, but it’s best not to introduce male birds to an urban environment – your neighbours probably won’t appreciate a daily alarm call at sunrise.
Hameau, who keeps his own chickens, sells everything a stylish would-be keeper is likely to need, except the birds themselves (although a few farms in Al Khawaneej are recommended suppliers). His range includes tasty chicken treats, toys, vitamins, as well as egg decoys (leave it in place once your hen has laid, and they won’t ever be tempted to taste the real thing). It’s worth noting that, according to Hameau, “not only do the chickens not smell, they also help to repel mosquitoes and flies”.
There were 1,500 products listed on My Green Chapter when the site went live – ranging from seeds and planters to irrigation and shading systems, and gardening tools for kids – and the number is growing continuously.
UAE gardeners will be delighted to learn that the site will soon also offer more than 100 varieties of organic seeds and soil, all of which can be ordered online and delivered to your home the next day.
My Green Chapter also stocks a range of click-and-grow hydroponic devices, costing from Dh240, complete with LED lights, which allow for indoor growing 365 days a year. The Plantui retails from Dh600 to Dh1,000, and has “high-end LED lights that provide the best spectra needed for photosynthesis”. Hailing from Finland, it’s also something of a design feature. Once set up, it can produce a continuing edible harvest of healthy greens within just a few weeks, and with integrated hydration, you only need to top up water levels every month or so.
“We don’t want to be a conventional garden centre; we want something that is a new innovative product, things that are fun and funky, to help people grow,” Hameau says.
For more information, visit www.mygreenchapter.com.