Organic Farming:Freedom from fertilizers and Pesticides Part–IX

Woman Quits Cushy US Job to Go Organic, Transforms Farm into 10-Acre Food Forest

Nearly a decade ago, Gayatri Bhatia gave up a well-paying job as an environmental analyst with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Boston and traded her busy city life abroad to live at Vrindavan Farm.

About a three hour drive north east of Mumbai lies a 10 acre land that belongs to Gaytri Bhatia’s family.  The plot has been christened Vrindavan Farm, after the ancient forest in Hindu mythology where Krishna spent his childhood days. It isn’t just the organic food that Bhatia grows, which makes the journey of the farm interesting. It is her story.

Nearly a decade ago, Bhatia gave up a well-paying job as an environmental analyst with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Boston and traded her busy city life abroad to live at Vrindavan.

When she first moved in, the land was predominantly a mango orchard with around 500 trees bearing seven varieties, with some coconuts, cashew nuts and black pepper crops.

Today, apart from being lush with mango trees, a number of other fruits like banana, papaya, mulberry, chikoo, pineapple, jackfruit, wild berries, cashew apples, heirloom tomatoes among others also grow on the farm. While some of the spices grown at the farm include turmeric, ginger, pepper, greens like lettuce, baby spinach, basil, native sorrel, moringa, amaranth and vegetables like doodhi, papaya, pumpkin, tomatillos, brinjal, yam, lemongrass are also grown at the farm.

Besides these, a small patch of land outside her home blooms with experimental crops for the next season like purple and atomic red carrots and Mexican varieties such as tomatillo verde and beetroot.

Gaytri says, “Over my years of (environmental) consultancy, I recognised that a paradigm shift was needed in the way we treated ourselves and the earth, one that could be scaled up only from the roots. Working in environmental analyses prepared me for the extent of the damage being done to humanity via damage of the earth in our industrial-driven lifestyles. Farming was the way to grow this change (for me),” says the first generation farmer. The journey that began merely watching the land do its own thing has now turned her into full-time organic farmer and entrepreneur who produces and sells clean food, freshly processed products, conserves heirloom seeds and preserves them in seed banks.

Every harvest season, the farm run by Bhatia yields 3,000 to 5,000 kilos of mangoes which are sold to a long list of clients in Mumbai, including top restaurants like the Smoke House Deli, Kala Ghoda Cafe, The Pantry, Olive, and more.

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