We’re delighted to announce that Rekha Mistry from @rekha.garden.kitchen is this year’s very deserving winner of the Garden Media Guild’s Individual Social Media Influencer of the Year Award 2023! Sponsored by Thompson & Morgan, the coveted award celebrates the way Rekha inspires, educates and interacts with her followers.
Rekha has more than 30 years’ practical experience as a gardener and holds a Diploma in Horticulture from the RHS. She grows a huge variety of organic fruit and veg and her book, Rekha’s Kitchen Garden, is a great way to learn about growing your own produce. Taking part in BBC 2’s Big Allotment Challenge was a turning point in Rekha’s career, encouraging her to change focus and concentrate on gardening. She’s since built up a hugely popular Insta account that is packed with helpful advice and delicious recipes. In light of her win, we caught up with Rekha to learn a bit about her journey as a gardener and social media influencer. Here’s what she had to say…
Tell us how you got into gardening?
In my previous career I was a Company Director for 25 years but when I decided to change pace, my allotment became my focus. Appearing in the BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge triggered something inside me and made me realise that I wanted to get into horticulture. My allotment became my practice ground and I started blogging about my journey as well as sharing my progress on social media. What happened next?! Let’s just say the allotment stopped becoming my hobby to enjoy and soon became my new place of work!
What’s your greatest gardening achievement?
The way that I have been able to focus my horticultural expertise into all forms of media.
How has social media impacted your gardening journey?
Social media allowed me to transform a hobby I love into paid work. In a good way, it pushes my creativity, which I never knew I had! Now I’m always thinking of angles of reel focus and natural light levels for photography.
What’s your single, most important piece of gardening advice?
The best advice for anyone starting out is to grow what you love! I do! I don’t worry if what I’m growing isn’t ‘in vogue’ or a top social ‘trending plant’ or an ‘Insta pretty plant’. I always listen to my own heart and grow what I like.
How has a garden or landscape influenced your work or personal gardening style?
All of my own gardens and plots have challenged me. My first London allotment sat on clay and flooded every winter. So I learnt what to do and shared my progress. Whenever I share my successes, followers are always surprised by how much I can grow. Now I have a new kitchen garden on a north-facing peak district slope. The challenges and journey continue!
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have three plants – one practical, one beautiful, and one unusual, what would they be?
Why choose just 3!!! I would choose potatoes, amaranth and chillies. Can I take seeds too? Please?
My focus is to complete the cottage works and all of the terraced gardens in our new home. But, there are new projects in the pipeline which I cannot discuss…yet 😉. Please watch this space!
More about T&M and the Garden Media Guild Awards
Each year, the Garden Media Guild celebrates the writing or content of talented gardening professionals. Awards are given to the most inspirational gardeners with categories for authors, journalists, photographers, vloggers, podcasters and gardening influencers. The winners are judged by their peers and experts in the field.
This year, Thompson & Morgan sponsored the GMG’s ‘Individual Social Media Influencer of the Year Award’. This special award is for “the communicator who inspires, educates or informs followers about gardening by posting regularly on one or more platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or others), generating an engaged following, replying to questions and comments and interacting with followers.” Find the full list of GMG awards as well as the shortlisted nominees here.
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.