About a 3-hour drive northeast of Mumbai lies a 10-acre land that belongs to Gaytri Bhatia’s circle of relatives. The plot has been christened Vrindavan Farm, after the historic wooded area in Hindu mythology in which Krishna spent his formative years days. It isn’t just the organic food that Bhatia grows, which makes the journey of the farm thrilling. It is her tale. When she first moved in, the land turned into predominantly a mango orchard with around 500 trees bearing seven varieties, with a few coconuts, cashew nuts, and black pepper crops.
Today, aside from being lush with mango bushes, several different fruits like banana, papaya, mulberry, chikoo, pineapple, jackfruit, wild berries, cashew apples, heirloom tomatoes, among others, also develop at the farm. While some of the spices grown at the farm encompass turmeric, ginger, pepper, veggies like lettuce, infant spinach, basil, native sorrel, moringa, amaranth, and veggies doodhi, papaya, pumpkin, tomatillos, brinjal, yam, lemongrass are also grown on the farm.
Besides these, a small patch of land outdoor her domestic blooms with experimental vegetation for the next season like purple and atomic pink carrots and Mexican types, including tomatillo Verde and beetroot. Recalling the beginning of her decade-old adventure, in a specific interview with The Better India (TBI), Gayatri says, “Over my years of (environmental) consultancy.
I recognized that a paradigm shift was wanted inside how we handled ourselves and the earth, one that might be scaled up most effective from the roots. Working in environmental analyses organized me for the volume of the damage being carried out to humanity via harm of the earth in our commercial-driven lifestyles. Farming turned into the way to develop this alteration (for me),” says the first-era farmer.
The journey that started merely looking at the land does its own factor has now grown to become her into complete-time organic farmer and entrepreneur who produces and sells smooth food, freshly processed merchandise, conserves heirloom seeds, and preserves them in seed banks. Every harvest season, the farm run using Bhatia yields 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of mangoes which can be bought to a long list of customers in Mumbai, along with top restaurants just like the Smoke House Deli Kala Ghoda Cafe, The Pantry, Olive, and more.
Did the farm exercise any chemical farming earlier than her intervention, I ask. “The land has by no means been uncovered to chemical practices. But what brought about my foray into natural farming was overhearing colleagues communicate about the usage of DDT (which is globally banned) of their paddy fields. As the extent of the problems in agriculture has become clear to me, so become the want to exemplify the simplicity of and necessity for natural farming.”
In a technology where excessive-yielding genetically changed seeds (GMO) are on the upward thrust, Gayatri strives to keep, grow and multiply heirloom or native sorts. “The doozy within the seed is that this – seed production today is owned by using the very businesses that evolved chemical substances for war. The synthetic seed is resilient to chemical interventions (pesticides like Roundup) that kill the encircling natural order.
Which is largely the entirety, except the plant born from a modified seed. But the seed is sovereignty and cannot be left to an energy-hungry minority; it has to be inside the palms of the loads usually. “Resilience in seed evolves certainly. It surprised me how few farmers are seed-saving nowadays, and the way some distance the dependence on market-offered hybrid and GM seeds had spread.”
How does she preserve seeds?
“We develop the crop throughout its seasonal cycle annually to preserve its presence in our financial institution. Seeds are saved in ash in glass jars. On a small scale, we percentage seeds with neighboring farmers. Presently we’re running on multiplying Mahadi rice and local moong dal. We additionally grow heirloom culmination and vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, beets, radishes. Our seeds aren’t constantly indigenous, but they’re usually open-pollinated seeds from farmers, now not laboratories,” she informs.
A general of 9 workers that consists of Bhatia maintain the farm. These are locals from her village. While the group works diligently throughout their 8 am to 6 pm schedule, Bhatia, unmarried-handily, takes care of the paintings allocated for nightfall hours. Crops are seasonally deliberate, rotated, and intercropped. Pests are usually managed with the aid of partner planting. But in case it desires additional intervention, they use cow urine sprays.