Farmers' Market at Maharashtra Nature Park
I have visited Farmers' Markets in USA and have been floored by them.There are stalls and stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables and some with meat and cheese.I have read about the ones in Mumbai but had never been to one.When I saw the announcement on Mumbai Ready Reckoner,it said it would be held at Maharashtra Nature Park at Sion-Dharavi,a place I had heard good things about.That's how I got down to visiting it this Sunday.It's the brainchild of Kavita Mukhi,someone I met years ago when I did the Orchid Finishing School Course and she was on the faculty.Those days she was just as passionate about organic food as she is today.
Recently I came across the concept of "Community Supported Agriculture" which entails subscribing to a season's local produce and getting a fresh supply every week without knowing what's going to be in the box.That has yet to start in India.
We arrived by car and entered the last gate (Special Entry for Parking) which took us into the park.There were cars parked outside too.There was a small parking fee and we parked under a tree.It was hard to believe that the Maharashtra Nature Park had been a garbage dump now transformed into a forest thanks to the efforts of the MMRDA,Urban Development Dept of Govt of Maharashtra and WWF-India and many others.We were greeted by dragonflies,butterflies and herons.....such a lovely Sunday morning!
The Farmers Market includes fresh vegetables which had been grown without pesticides and fertilizers.They looked bright and shiny and were aromatic.I picked up green,red and yellow peppers,okra(lady's finger) and aubergines(brinjals).These you had to put in a basket and they were weighed all together and you paid per kg.I also picked up some lovely greens....methi,palak,pudina(mint) and coriander (cilantro).The small leafed fenugreek/methi is less bitter and was the one on sale.When I went home,my kitchen smelt of all the vegetables,don't remember that happening before.
Also bought some beetroot which had leaves on.My cousin Archana told me that that also can be eaten.
I make a Beetroot Raita.
Also saw some exotic Broccoli and Baby Corn with husk on!
Unlike the many fruits in the American markets,there was only Custard Apple (Sitaphal).Many more next time? I did find some luscious raisins at the vegetable stall.
Then there was a stall by Amrute's Ecofarms which are based at Dapoli,Ratnagiri.They have a farm and an Agro-Rural Tourism Centre.They were selling seeds of various vegetables and plants as well.
The timing of the Market is 10am to 3pm.We were there at 12.30pm and it was hot.It would be advisable to be armed with sunglasses or a cap and wear sports shoes.We were glad to see a Gola Stall.We had those flavoured with Hibiscus and Citrus.
There was an Organic Cafe which served some delightful food.....exceptional being the Red Rice Dosas and Idlis of Mrs Gogia which she served with a tangy chutney AND the Pitla-Bhakri in the next stall which was sooo good!!
Red rice is a variety of rice (Raktasali) grown in South India which has more fibre and other nutrients.She had also made idlis of moong dal and they were delicious.
Then there was the Organic Bakery run by Jennifer which had wholewheat bread,brownies,eggless,gluten free and fat free cakes.My nephew Rishabh got himself a Chocolate Orange Brownie.He has clicked some of the pictures on the post.He likes to think they are the better ones.
I headed to the stall that said "Amazon Cooler",a mocktail made of berries such as Acai berry,Wolfberry,Bilberry and Cranberry.Delightful, healthy but expensive shot of antioxidants.
Then there were figs and apricots,organically grown,without pesticides,preservatives and artificial colours.
Also saw some wild berries on trees.Wondered what they were and made a note to go on one of the many trails the Centre conducts....Woodland,Creekside and Middle Trail.
Couldn't think of a more perfect place to have a Farmers' Market...a forest in the middle of urban chaos.Sunjoy Monga has published a book on this place called "Maharashtra Nature Park..Back To Nature" and says that not a single fertilizer was used when trees were planted here.What I would like to see are many more stalls at the Market.
I am going to visit these markets again.The South Mumbai one will be at Jai Hind College from November.
A view like this however will be missing....