Increasing the number of gardeners contributes to a more environmentally sustainable future. That is according to Kuwaiti organic gardening enthusiast Alzainah Albabtain, who addressed an audience at Dubai’s Museum of the Future (MOTF) on the first day of the Climate Future Week.
“Home gardeners are experts in conserving water because we know the value of every drop,” she said. “So we adopt practices like drip irrigation. We save rainwater, and you will never find us hosing down our cars in the morning or washing our driveways. We also reduce waste by composting, and we are willing to share our tips and tricks because we want more gardeners to join the community.”
Alzainah set a Guinness World record for the world’s largest gardening lesson in 2019 when she taught 286 participants the essentials of growing their organic produce.
However, she said that she began her journey with scepticism. “I didn’t see a gardening culture where I came from,” she said. “I had so many wrong ideas. One day, I thought, why don’t I try sprinkling some seeds? I was sure they would not grow because I live in a desert. The day I did that was the day I fell in love with gardening. I was hooked by the sight of these lifeless seeds sprouting and wiggling their way out of the soil.”
Alzainah, who shares her journey on social media through the handle @itallgrows, says that what she loves the most about gardening is how it brings the family together. “My children love to harvest with me,” she said. “When harvesting potatoes from the garden, we have a competition, boys versus girls. We weigh the bags at the end, and whoever has the heavier one wins.”
She said her children have parties in the garden. “My kids call the neighbours and their friends, and we have a big garden harvest party,” she said. “And it’s enjoyable when we get those funny-looking carrots, and they give them nicknames. One looks like a shrimp; the other looks like a crab. It’s really, really fun. And I love watching them light up in the garden.”
Alzainah said she is proud to be raising future gardeners. “So kids today, if you tell them potato, they’ll immediately think of French fries or chips,” she said. “But my kids know how much it takes to grow food. They know where food comes from, which builds a connection here.”
She said the children help her in the garden barefoot. “I feel like I’m allowing the kids to connect with nature for real. I’m giving them a chance to explore, be free, and just experience real life.”
The role of social media
Alzainah encouraged everyone to try their hand at gardening and grow their produce. “Remember, my plants are in one of the hottest countries in the world, Kuwait,” she said. “If I can do it, anyone one.”
She has amassed a following of over 660,000 people. “Through my posts, I was sharing my ups, downs, and mishaps,” she said. “I wanted people to avoid the mistakes that I was making. And with each new variety I was growing, I found more people following along my footsteps and growing the gardening community.”
She said she was not alone in her crusade to educate people about gardening and encouraged everyone to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available on social media. “There are hundreds of gardening content creators in the region. They’re doing amazing work sharing and inspiring,” she said. “Together, we’re seeing change not just in our generation but in the generation that we’re raising. We’re seeing a ripple effect.”