Before you really get into this story, there’s something you need to know. Researching this story has been quite a journey, to say the least. Countless links to nowhere, endless Facebook debates about what ‘organic’ really means, and whether or not it’s a word created by hipsters for hipsters, and a minor existential crisis (about whether we can believe anything in this world of ours) later, we feel there are a few things we need to clarify. This list first started out as a list of Organic farms from which we could get produce from. We soon realised that like anything else in the world, there are large systems in place that regulate who and what get’s to be certified “organic” and that may not necessarily be what we are looking for. It was almost scary to use the word organic, without fearing some form of retaliation.
So as to avoid angst and protests about how we’ve classified and chosen the farms we have, we thought it necessary to explain our criteria of selection to you. We identified elements that were important to us: non GMO seeds, pesticide and fertilizer free methods, and no use of antibiotics and growth hormones for the produce. We went on to pick farms whose practices were aligned with our beliefs. While some may be organic and some not, please know that it costs a lot of money to be certified ‘Organic’ and a lot of small scale farms simply cannot afford this. However, this does not discount the work that they are doing, and this is most important.
Without further ado, here’s a list of small scale farms across the country that grow fresh, local produce. Apart from vegetables, we have also included the best options for procuring milk and eggs. You’re welcome.
Reema Gupta’s 2 acre farm is her home. The Slow Farm has been using sustainable and organic practices for the last 13 years, and they have over 50 varieties of seasonal fruits, vegetables and spices. Around four years ago, they found themselves in a particular predicament – their fruit produce was so large they started sharing passion fruits, avocados, pomelos, starfruits with many friends. Reema then decided to introduce CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as a self-sustainable model, wherein its members gain direct access to local, seasonal, organic produce from her family farm.
The Slow Farm’s integrated methods of composting and crop rotation enrich their soil to produce nutrient rich food. “These ancestral methods contribute to a dynamic, self-renewing system of farming that doesn’t need chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other artificial inputs,” as mentioned on their website. They use solar panels for hot water, harvest rain water, which is then pumped back using drip irrigation across the entire farm. They have grown neem trees which act as a natural herbicide and have found that red ants eat the fungus that grows on some of their produce, as told to HG.
What they grow: Farm-raised eggs, Pomelo, Kokum, Starfruits, Avocados, Mangoes, Lima beans, brinjals and turmeric.
How to get their produce: For those interested in high quality, fresh, organic and seasonal produce please contact them via their website
II. The Happy Hens Farm
Where: Bangalore and Chennai
This farm believes in free range chickens, where the chickens are fed maize, soya, azola, rice, grains and bugs. The chickens lay their eggs in a nest as they would naturally, and are completely free of non-therapeutic antibiotics and growth hormones. The chickens have plenty of space to move around and engage in naturally occurring behavior. It should be noted that these eggs are infertile, meaning that there is no rooster involved in the process (Chickens lay eggs as a result of natural ovulation, and these do not become chicks).
Their produce: Eggs
How to get their produce: Visit their website for options in Bangalore and Chennai
This farm was started by S Madhusudan, who stopped to reassess his whole lifestyle after a health scare - and a large part of this lifestyle change had to do with the food he consumed. As it stands today, their farms are spread across 200 acres around Bangalore and use a combination of modern and ancient technology to grow their produce. All of their produce is free of chemicals, artificial fertilizers/pesticides and GMOs. They use only organic inputs from seed to harvest. They use gobbar slurry as a natural fertilizer, and oil cakes from neem, honne and sesame as natural pesticide.
What they grow: Plenty of basic and exotic vegetables
How to get their produce: Order directly on their website
IV. Pride of Cows
Spread across 26 acres, this farm is equipped with international standard technology for feeding, milking and processing. They have Swiss Holstein and Friesian cows who are fed high quality alfalfa, pennisetum, greens, soya and bran. The cows are not forcefuly milked, and have plenty of space to graze in completely natural form. As mentioned on their website, “Our 50-point mechanised Rotary Parlour and strict processes ensure that the milk is both hygienically and humanely procured. In fact, every cow goes through an electronic health check every time it is milked, to ensure that it is at peak health for milking. And rest assured that the fresh milk that is dispatched from the dairy is absolutely antibiotic free.”
Their produce: Milk
How to get their produce: You can place your order directly on their website.
Navdanya is best described as a movement for Earth democracy. They are responsible for creating over a hundred seed banks across 18 states of India, a huge accomplishment. Navdanya is a pioneer in the field of organic farming, and their farm is completely certified to be organic. Better yet, they’ve gone on to train 200,000 farmers in organic production. They also practice fair trade consumption, and truly work in the interest of the farmers.
Their produce: A variety of dry foods, legumes, flour, rice, cereals, indian spices and herbs.
How to get their produce: You can visit their stores in Mumbai and Delhi (find the addresses here).
Popularly known for their myriad varieties of cheese, ABC has a farm located on the outskirts of Dehu that uses completely organic methods of production. This farm has Holstein Cows and Swiss Saanen Goats and all the farm milk is Organic as well.
Their produce: Brown rice, polished rice, Black rice, Wheat, Jowar, Bajra and Dry Herbs
Where to get their produce:
VII. Vrindavan Farm
This is a farm that has truly combined indigenous wisdom with modern knowledge. They “encourage naturally existing species biodiversity, use heirloom seeds, home-brewed fermented manures as soil feed, fermented teas as sprays, celestially harmonious sows, crop rotation & companion planting” as mentioned on their website. They are equally conscious of water usage and purification, using methods to ensure the highest amount of water retention.
What they grow: Mango, Superfoods such as Moringa, heirloom and indigenous vegetables, and spices.
How to get their produce: They bring their produce to Mumbai every Friday. You can simply drop them an email at [email protected] or order via shophop.co.in
This is a farm whose main motto is to drive the realization that food is in fact, medicine. Thus, they are driven with the purpose to supply people with pure and hygienic vegetables, fruits ,milk and food products of superior quality which are completely free from harmful chemicals. This farm was started in 2010, and works with small time farmers to improve their livelihood using traditional farming practices that do not involve the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. For example, they use cow dung manure, cow urine, panchagavya, herbal leaf extracts, bio fertilizers, bio pesticides, vermicompost, earth worm manures to cultivate crops. The pests and insects are controlled using extracts of Neem, Noochi, Thulasi leaves and biological methods.
What they grow: Dals, Oils, Spices, Rice, and most fruits and vegetables
Where to get their produce: You can order online, or shop at their franchise outlet - find their information here.
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