Imagine picking your own vegetables or watch them being picked just before you buy !When my sister-in-law Priya mentioned that she had come across a farm where produce was freshly picked and sold,I was all ears. For one this concept still remains largely unexplored in these parts. I could hardly contain my curiosity for 24 hours before I ventured out to meet the person behind the “Pick and Cook “thought process of selling fresh groceries.
The large colourful signboard is placed on the side of the Puttuvikki road which is home to mostly farmlands. The vast stretch of farmland enroute to Kovaipudur is easily visible as are the many folk whose hands are hard at work on the fields. As I approach the area where the herbs,fruit and vegetables are weighed and sold,I’m greeted by a slight gentleman with a pleasant disposition.He introduces himself to me as Viswanathan and displays no curiosity as to why I have so many questions.
True to the sign ,he adds that while I’m welcome to pick what I would like to buy ,it’s not a task that everyone is at ease doing. Many folk have no idea of what goes into harvesting and may end up just damaging the plants. So,his farm hands are more than happy to help with the process of picking once you have made your choices. I can’t help but point to some aromatic coriander and fat limes to add to my bill.He refuses to go by the word organic as he believes that leads to wrongly escalations in prices. He uses no pesticides or chemicals,just different kinds of compost and biological plant derived nutrients.The herbs and greens are picked only on demand while the rest are harvested by mid morning.
He walks me through the farm. The 35 acres that he manages have been in his family for several decades.He has dabbled from producing jaggery ,making plantain chips with green bananas from his farm along with many other projects related to agriculture. Being passionate about correct farm practices,he also conducts classes for school children.
He has made it his life’s mission to get people to understand to what extent fresh food contributes to wellness. He gives me a small example ; ” A home maker goes about her innumerable chores for the day. In a corner of her backyard there grows a tomato plant as a result of seed dispersal by nature or human hands. However that plant thrives and begins to fruit. It’s something the most disinterested of people will find hard to ignore- fresh produce growing before their very eyes ! The lady harvest them and rustles up a dish for the family. Her happiness of cooking something grown at home will get translated into the dish during the cooking process leaving the family to proclaim that it was one of the tastiest dishes ever eaten.” Food eaten in this manner with intent and purpose is the way it’s meant to be, rather than shovelling mindless nothings to satiate a never ending craving !
In Asia , the term ‘breath of the wok’ actually refers to the food being prepared with love and happiness. Something to think about ?
It is this need to spread awareness to the public that paved the way to this new venture that has spread purely through word of mouth in the past few months. As we continued to converse ,the customers began to arrive and that gave me the opportunity to chat with some of the less shy ones.
Retd. Wing.Cdr . Shubir Roy says that he has been buying from this farm for the past few months ever since he noticed the sign when he passed by on his way home to Kovaipudur. There’s no doubting the freshness of the vegetables bought here and that’s what makes him frequent the place. He has brought along a colleague to introduce him to this idea of pick and cook and says that since his first visit ,the number of customers have gotten more and one has to make their purchases early in the day!
Ms.Shameem also from the Kovaipudur area says she has been coming here since 2 months and is most satisfied with the quality of the vegetables and that they taste so much better.
Mr.Muralidharan ,a dance teacher at St. Francis said he had decided to come here instead of going to the regular market in town upon his daughter’s insistence.
Mr.Viswanathan has been featured in tamil magazines for his extensive study in agricultural practices.He also owns land in Ooty where he cultivates strawberries,zucchini,cauliflower etc which are sent elsewhere for sale. If the demand arises he is willing to bring them for sale to the local market. On the 16th of October he held a keerai mela at the premises where he showcased many recipes from a simple keerai soup to more complex methods of using as many as 12 different varieties of spinach.
In order to be able to teach people to enjoy their food ,he believes that they need to witness the vagaries of agriculture.That forms an emotional connect to the soil and automatically translates into the food on the plate. We’re all veering towards the farm to table concept. But a friend recently told me that she would love to take her kid to a farm where he can pull something from the ground which she could then buy and bring back to cook for him. At Iyar farms you can do just that !
Puttuvikki road (perur)