Children of the soil
VOGUE India|October 2020
Children of the soil
Sowing the seeds for a green future, these modern-day agripreneurs are trading age-old techniques for a new range of radical farming practices
Sonal Ved

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that there are two kinds of people—the first, who took over our timelines with their baking experiments, and the second, who took out their shovels to indulge in some victory gardening. From tending to tomato tendrils to muddling chimichurri from the parsley in their backyards, growing greens has become a gram-worthy activity for this second cohort. But for this curated group of niche growers, farming goes beyond pastime to specialisation. Armed with an alternate practice, they are preserving heirloom seeds, foraging greens, restoring forest lands, reducing carbon footprints, and thus, even mitigating climate change. Here is a lowdown on the varied cutting-edge approaches that a growing number of modern-day farmers are employing to create a win-win between man and the wild.

CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE

OOO FARMS, MAHARASHTRA

Iron-rich black husked rice, greens like gharbhandi, fatangadi and kurdu, and potatoes that grow on vines are just some gems that have been spotlighted since a quartet of friends set up OOO Farms in the Sahyadris. “Our practice mixes foraging with farming. So far, we’ve conserved over 100 varieties of rice, 14 varieties of wheat and 130 vegetables,” says co-founder Shailesh Awate, who lists Taj Santacruz, The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai and Black Market in Goa among his clientele. OOO Farms works with a network of 500 farmers to bridge the gap between deforestation and urban agriculture. Its pop-ups, like the tribal produce-led meals at the Serendipity Arts Festival 2019, are as delicious as they are educational. “Our effort is to work on soil conservation by bringing back practices like working with ancient seeds or using tribal knowledge so we don’t hamper the earth further,” he adds. Ooofarms.com

PERMACULTURE

THE FOREST WAY AND FYOTS, GOA

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October 2020