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“This year we (as consumers) will move towards clean, slow, and nutritious foods. We’ve come a long way as a species—from hunters and gatherers to settlers to now eating fast and synthetic food. We’ve reached a full circle, consuming wild foods and farm​​ grown foods that nourish us. We’ve realised that the way we cultivate and nurture the earth keeps us healthy. We’ve learnt that “fast-forwarding” food comes at the stake of our own health and that of the earth. (for example, by using GMO seeds or cloned saplings​ or fruit ripening chemicals​, stemming from ​”more”, “faster”, “always available”). The earth provides plenty to eat, but managing this vast resource and using it mindfully is what we need to work on. … ”

Yourstory piece on “Farmers as well as urban individuals are adopting organic farming practices and reaping more benefits; the more organic and natural the produce, the safer and healthier it is for us and for the environment.”

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Although organic farming is a controversial concept in India, it has been saving many farmer lives and gaining prominence with city dwellers. Thankfully, some have taken it upon themselves to produce or support farmers who produce crops without the use of genetically modified organisms, artificial fertilisers, pesticides and livestock feed additives. Here are the best organic farms where you can get fresh, unadulterated produce from in India. […]
To quote Vrindavan Farm: ‘Combining indigenous wisdom with modern day knowledge, our practices are slow, deliberate, and biodynamic – working to enrich the land’. Vrindavan uses fermented manure as soil feed and sustainable methods for water retention. They grow mango, herbs, indigenous vegetables and spices.

How chefs, restaurateurs and food producers are working together on sustainable dining, a movement that is slowly gathering space.

Today, Vrindavan Farm supplies produce to restaurants such as Olive Bar and Kitchen, 212 All Good, Kala Ghoda Cafe, and The Pantry. “We specialize in seasonal, heirloom and indigenous. […] Farmers have information on what’s in season and what’s local. We need to take it to the chef, who brings it to the plates. Together, we can spread the knowledge of quality local produce.”

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Six years ago, Gaytri set up a fully organic farm in Wada, Maharashtra, where she grows top-notch indigenous produce including amaranth, black pepper, mangoes and baby spinach. She also supplies them to a number of Mumbai’s restaurants and hotels—The Pantry, 212 All Good, Olive Bar & Kitchen and Indigo Deli are among those who work with Gaytri to incorporate the produce she grows into their extremely popular repertoire. “In a few years from now, food security is going to become a large problem for India,” says Gaytri, who hopes to change that, one harvest at a time. Having previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Boston, she is well versed with sustainable models of farming, and implements them to create robust produce, a list of which goes out every week to Vrindavan’s 300 members, to announce the new harvest. She also conducts workshops and volunteer events to acquaint city folk with farm life.

by Kumud Dadlani

Everyone loves matcha tea—Dominique Ansel,  matcha enthusiasts in Brooklyn and Hollywood stars all swear by the premium Japanese export. While it is a great source of carbohydrates, the Indian moringa provides a better nutritional profile when compared to matcha. Moringa has over 10 times more fibre, 30 times more protein and 100 times more calcium than its Japanese cousin. Moringa is as native as it can get. It’s not just a superfood when powdered, but is actually a super tree with nutritional leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds. Do note, the flavour profiles are not the same—moringa has an asparagus aftertaste, while matcha is slightly sweeter.

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Homegrown identified a list of small scale farms across India with the following key elements: non GMO seeds, pesticide and fertilizer free methods, and no use of antibiotics and growth hormones for the produce.  Among others, is Vrindavan farm.

Before you see the mango orchard in Vrindavan Farm, you smell it. A heady whiff of the clusters of Rajapuri, kesar, hapoos, totapuri, Ratna and batli mangoes pervades the property crowded with fruit and vegetable trees. There are over 500 mango trees on the 10.5 acre farm located in Palghar, which is about two-and-a-half hours away from Mumbai by road. The fruit will be ripe for harvest at the end of May…

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Vrindavan Farm chats with IWB about their work practices, closing the gap for the youth, and knowing our food.

…”The first step has to be, closing the gap. Urban kids have become used to purchasing packaged foods, which keeps us disconnected from the ingredients that go into it. We need to expose kids to gardens (in schools or their homes), where they can get their hands dirty, learn about seed, plant food, nurture. It’s only once this relation develops, will they look to solve other issues surrounding food.”

We first came across […] Vrindavan Farm when we were planning a very intricate sit-down dinner for Hermès and really wanted to do an authentic farm-to-table experience. This meant tracking down a farmer who was on the same wavelength as us, asking them for a list of produce that would be in season at the time of the event, and actually creating the menu around what was available and not vice versa, as often happens.

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Of the places Vrindavan Farm supplies it’s produce to in the city, is 212 All Good. The 212 team leads Bombay into a nourishing relationship with food. “According to [Deepti] Dadlani, the main idea for the café was to “fix the relationship issue that people are having with their food.” She further explained, “the concept emerged from a clear understanding that nourishing the gut lends to a heightened sixth sense and emotional health. The gut is your second brain, and also where 80 percent of human immunity lies.””

Recommends by chef Shilarna Vaz of healthy food suppliers across India.

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Discussing the status quo of bringing farm fresh produce to plates in Bombay.

A correction to what’s been quoted as Bhatia… Kala Ghoda Cafe does NOT base their menus on what producers can give. Rather, KGC goes out of their way to support producers by absorbing produce, as and when available, for use in their cafe. This is a big step toward curbing food waste.

“Everything from the planting to the harvesting and packaging of the fruit is done by hand. The farm, which has over 500 mango trees, sells Rajapuri, kesar, hapoos, totapuri, Ratna, batli and Sindhu varieties…”

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A culinary journey – Around the World in 12 Dishes is a collection of recipes and stories of small food-producers, celebrating diversity and building an intimate relation with our food and its sources. Created by Imogen Wells and designed by Elespacio (Spain), this collection features the mighty Moringa from apna Vrindavan Farm.

“In the coming decades, food crises will pose the greatest challenge to global stability. We need a fairer, more sustainable food system and we need it now.”  Part of the long-term project The Mansholt Letter, the Manifesto was initiated by Het Nieuwe Instituut (Netherlands) in collaboration with Slow Food.

Gaytri Bhatia speaks on the “natural balance“.

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“Kumud Dadlani, who did her master’s in food studies from Italy’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, undertakes research on food sources. She also volunteers at Vrindavan Farm, not far from Mumbai. The farm supplies moringa in all its forms, fresh, dried and powdered, on order.”

Text by: Gaytri Bhatia, Photographs by: Ritam Banerjee

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“The land will yield when you sing tunes to it, believes Bhatia whose passion for organic farming practices produces the juiciest, most divine mangoes ever”