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.