Fresh off the farm

Farmers' market hopes to repeat its success, this time in South Mumbai

The success of Mumbai's first farmers' market, which takes place every Sunday in Bandra, prompted the organisers to take it to South Mumbai. And the move seems to have paid off, at least for now. The farmers' market, held at the Turf Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course, witnessed a full house on Thursday with SoBoites sauntering in, dressed in their designer wear and large sunglasses, to pick fresh produce. But for them, these trips it's not just about making sure their meal is organic-rich. They are also delighted about supporting the cause: that of bypassing middlemen and giving the farmers their due.

"Our goal is to help the farmers get the right price for their produce so that they are able to make a healthy living. By getting them to Mahalaxmi, we are trying to increase their business and also give a taste of these

organic products to people from this part of Mumbai," says Kavita Mukhi, the founder of Conscious Food and also the Farmers' Market. While Hill Road, Bandra, continues to hold the market on every Sunday morning, the one at Turf Club will be held for the next three Thursdays from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Thursday has been chosen as the market day to capitalise on the crowd it draws at Turf Club thanks to the races being held on this day. "On Thursdays, you can rest assured that a good crowd will turn up. As of now, we have zeroed in on four Thursdays. But there is a demand to extend it by two weeks," says Vivek Jain, chairman, Turf Club.

The first farmers' market at the Turf Club saw piles of capsicum, potatoes,onions, cauliflower, cabbage, brocolli, chillis, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, beans, peas and carrots. Seasonal fruits such as guavas, pomegranates, figs, grapes and watermelons were aplenty. "We get these vegetables from our farms in Nashik," says Gyaneshwar, who doesn't seem to mind the travelling it involves. Sampath Damne, however, makes it clear that it is not possible for them to commute everyday.

"We have to take care of our farms. Besides, it takes around four hours to reach Mumbai," says Damne, who grows spinach, coriander, mint and other leafy vegetables at his Nashik farm.

Though vegetables occupy prime space there, pulses and rice too find their place. "People prefer buying these items at the market because we use natural fertilisers," says Hemal Kotak, of Kotak Farms in Nagpur. Since Turf Club has enough space to accommodate more kiosks, there are stalls selling organic snacks including pani puri, Thai food, salads, juices, tofu, dry fruits by Ecorico and teas and coffees by Mukhi. You could also shop for organic cotton T-shirts by Fusion and No Nasties, organic soaps by Rejuveda, canvas totes by Clean Planet and natural Holi colours by Om Veda.

While on a shopping spree, if anyone is tempted to haggle, there is a spoiler: a signboard which reads "No Bargaining Please".

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