During the Covid lockdown, many of us made the resolution to follow our passions, but a lot of us couldn’t stick to it. However, a brother-sister duo from Chandigarh, turned their hobby of growing strawberries into a commercial venture in the last year.
“Freshville” started as a hobby for Vritti, 25, and Parth Narula, 20, when they were at home while the lockdown brought the world to a standstill. “Our father was always interested in growing strawberries and we have a few acres of land in New Chandigarh where we started growing them on a small scale,” says Vritti, who works as a jewellery designer and was born and brought up in Chandigarh along with her brother Parth. They are both lifers at Vivek High School in Sector 38-B.
“Earlier, we were growing strawberries on half an acre and selling them to our friends through WhatsApp. But now, we have expanded it to over four acres of land and started an Instagram page from where we take orders. We make around 80 deliveries per day,” Vritti adds.
While Parth primarily concentrates on growing the fruits and planting them, Vritti works on marketing the venture, dealing with clients and running operations.
Talking about how the strawberries are grown, Parth, a final-year student of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in Mumbai, said, “Earlier, we started with two varieties, but now we are up to six, which we hope will bear fruit till May. The mother plant that we use has been imported from California while we get runners from places like Himachal Pradesh. It’s completely organic and no chemicals or pesticides are used at all.”
There are around 11 employees that help them pick strawberries and after picking in the morning, they get them back to their house in the city to pack them and they hire three riders on a per day basis to deliver the orders. “We are the only venture here that provides fresh strawberries,” he added.
The duo has now also started making and selling strawberry products like jam, crush, slush, sugar-free jam and ginger ale. “We started making jam based on our mother’s recipe. The response was positive, so, we recently diversified to other products. The crush and ginger ale are especially popular.”
Talking about their future plans, Vritti said they are exploring tie-ups with various supermarkets in the city and expanding to other cities. “We have received queries from places as far as Kanpur and Bangalore. Even now, we supply orders as far as Gurdaspur and Ludhiana. By next year, we plan to start a venture in Delhi,” she added.
The strawberries can be purchased through their Instagram page, its freshville, starting at ₹200 per kilo. They are graded into three categories based on size and the A+ grade with the biggest strawberries sells for ₹400 per kg. “All grades sell equally well and for people who want to make jams or smoothies, we suggest they go for the smaller ones,” Vritti said.