Posts Tagged ‘toxic’

My day at The Farmer’s Market

Posted 01 May 2010 — by admin
Category GreenWatch, Jalebi Ink Events

By Parina Muchhala, 11

I had been to the Farmer’s Market at Bandra (West) in Mumbai on Sunday, the 25th of April. Here all the food sold was organic and chemical-free. As I stepped in, a fresh smell of vegetables greeted me. It was a huge garden, with different stalls selling vegetables, beads, solar caps, juice, herbal medicines and so on.

Some people were performing Agnihotra, a yagna to purify the air. There were many farmers selling different vegetables, most of them being potatoes, onions etc. And some food counters too. There was a bhel puri counter where it was all naturally grown ingredients used. ‘95% organic bhelpuri’ said the poster. There was a book exhibition and a sushi counter too.

You would also get organic sugarcane juice! And there were some herbal medicine counters selling medicines to cure almost any type of fever.

I went to interview a few farmers and some people. At first I went to Mr. Anand Bhave, a 47 year old man who lives in Andheri and does paper folding art. He says, “I make furniture out of recycled paper and use natural colours. I love nature and so I don’t want it to get destroyed.” On asking him at what age he started doing this he says, “I started doing paper craft on my own when I was 10 and no one taught me to do it.” He says he uses only a few tools to do this. “I only use some tools like cutters, pokers and hands, most of the time.” He has 12 hobbies like skating, traveling, making things etc. Bhave loves to do this at any time, any place and has a company called ‘Oricraft’.

Next we went to a farmer called Mr. Sampat Balnath Dhamane. He has come from Nasik to sell his crop. I asked him how he fertilized his crop, and he says, “I use gobar (cow dung) to fertilize my crop. I take more time to grow it and more of my efforts are wasted.” When asked why organic foods are better Dhamane says, “There is no chemical and you get natural sweetness in the food.” He grows bottle gourd, onions etc. on his farm. The government does not support him in any way, he only has a certified right to grow such crops. Whenever he goes to places like Bhajji Gali, the farmers and sellers using chemicals protest against him. “They do not let me sell my things there, so I have to go somewhere else.” He delivers fresh things at your doorstep and you can contact him at 9004259600.

Then I interviewed another farmer called Ramesh Pawar, who too had come here from Nasik. It was his family business. He says, “Organic foods are better for you because there is no chemical in it. I use gobar (cow dung), chana ka aata, gomutra (cow urine), neem leaves and jaggery to make a slurry. That is the fertilizer I use.” They have a certified group called ‘Kashap Group of Organic Farmer’ which includes 5 other farmers like him. They are running it since 13 years. He ends by saying that all should eat organic foods for the betterment of their health.

And suddenly, I bumped into Mrs. Kavita Mukhi, the person who started this market. On asking her how and why she started the market she said, “I had started a company called Conscious Foods in 1990 to sell the dry versions of food. But I wanted to give fresh food to everyone. So the farmers came together and I could make this market. Also, because my son was a colicky child, and I realized it was due to harmful chemicals in food, I studied nutrition. This market started before 6 weeks.” She says that the farmers get all their earnings. “I do not take any commission from the farmers and they take home the full price. Only we take a little bit from the stall owners.” Mrs. Mukhi was a journalist before becoming a nutritionist. “I was one of the first employees with Gentlemen magazine, and I yet dabble in writing every now and then.” I asked her if she has and special message for all the readers and she says, “Choose organic not for your health but for the earth’s health. This market is open to all of you. You can come and organize workshops, play around, and do whatever you like.”  And there ended my interview with her.

I really had a lot of fun paying a visit to the farmers market and you must go too. There are many activities here and you would enjoy it. And yes, as Mrs. Mukhi says, ‘Choose organic not for your health, but for the earth’s health.’ I pay a tribute to this lady who has tried to save our mother earth in small steps.

Farmer’s market in Mumbai

Posted 22 Mar 2010 — by admin
Category GreenWatch

This Sunday (March 21, 2010) we visited what was called Mumbai’s first Farmer’s Market. Farmers had come to sell their produce directly to us. They were mostly from our neighbouring town of Nasik (in Maharashtra) and were selling all kinds of vegetables, fruits, syrups made of sugarcane and even natural household cleaning solutions. We liked the idea very much. In Mumbai, you can find a few shops that sell organic foods – but mostly grains, oils, spices etc. We have yet to come across anyone selling vegetables and fruits.

Though we liked the idea, we felt that the farmers’ stalls were too few and there were too many other stuff like expensive body oils and perfumes, Mediterranean food and household paints being sold. While the idea was okay, but we felt that their numbers were more than the number of farmers we saw at the Farmer’s Market.

Next time we want to see more farmers in the market. And maybe from other parts of the country too. Mumbai holds an annual fair where villagers come from many places in India to sell their stuff. We had once bought rice that smelt so heavenly that the whole house was filled with the aroma when it was cooking. We  had bought lovely freshly handmade (and not crushed in a big factory machine) coconut oil steeped in herbs from the southern state of Kerala. We need more fairs like that fair.

Back to the Farmer’s Market — we saw a stall selling organic house paints from Germany. At the same stall, they had a mobile phone charger you could wind manually. It took one minute of winding to get three minutes of talk time. Now you do the math to check how much winding would be needed for one day’s conversations. We figured the best way to do this would be to do your winding while doing some other unchallenging task – like watching TV. We also came across someone selling organic candy floss – for a princely sum of Rs50!

We saw some women who were selling steaming herbal tea in their stall taking a break with some candy floss.

In a corner, a stall was set up by the human rights commission of India. You could watch short films on human rights on a screen. You could also buy books on the subject and subscribe to magazines like Combat Law.

While we were walking around, we were hailed by this very pleasant looking man. His name is Ashwin Bhave.

He asked us what our names were. Then he cut a chart paper into long and narrow strips. Then he took out one tiny bougainvillea flower from a packet and crushed it by rubbing it between his fingers. We saw his fingers were coated in a lovely pink colour. He then made a quick sketch of a flower with his fingers. It looked like a watercolour. And wrote our names in a calligraphic style with a stick, again using colours from nature – this time from an orange stone that he rubbed against a rough surface to get the powder which he mixed with a little water.

He was handing out these bookmarks made on-the-spot to a lot of people. He also makes furniture from recycled paper. They look small but are not fragile. He showed us a photo where two very hefty looking men were standing on a tiny stool.

Now, the farmers.

We met Sandeep Jadhav and Sampath Dhaamne who own two-and-a-half acres of land in Nasik.

They told us electricity was a big problem in their village – it comes and goes frequently. Electricity was available for a total of about eight hours every day. Sometimes when electricity comes in the middle of the night, they have to get up from their sleep to switch the water pump on.

Jadhav and Dhaamne said organic food is very much in demand nowadays. They sell their produce in India – around Nasik mostly as organic food cannot be stored for too long and hence cannot withstand long-distance travel. But they do send some of their produce – soyabeans and cotton and onions (which are hardy travelers) to places as far as Germany and Netherlands.

To grow organic food, farmers do not use the usual chemical fertilizers and pesticides which leave behind chemical residues in foods and which enter our bodies. “We think of the soil as our mother. Who in their right mind would poison their mother?” asked Jadhav. Instead they use natural stuff like gomutra (cow’s urine). Sounds gross, but it works. They make a mixture called slurry from gomutra, jaggery, channa atta (flour made from black gram) cow dung and ferment it for about five days before using it. Sandeep Jadhav said that just like the electricity in their village, supply of gomutra too was unpredictable – because you don’t know when the cow is going to want to pee! So I guess you have to be on stand by all the time!

While we were talking about gomutra, a woman with a child was listening, standing next to us.

She told us that gomutra was available in temples – it was needed for some rituals — and they will give it to you if you ask them. She uses it for composting. Sandeep Jadhav interrupted us saying “Don’t worry. We have made a CD on the process of making this fertilizer. We will give it to you next Sunday. Will you come?” We said yes, absoloutely. Then the woman told us if we wanted to know more about how to compost and grow our own plants at home organically, we could attend a workshop that takes place every Sunday at the Mahim Nature Park in Bombay.

There are many city people who are into composting and growing their own stuff. We had heard about an organization called Urban Leaves which teaches city people how to compost and grow your own organic garden. We will be attending a session soon and will bring you a report.

If you are interested in knowing more about composting, growing a garden or the Farmer’s Market, you can write to