Aug 25, 2009

From flying to farming

From flying to farming
From flying to farming PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 05:35
Bangalore: City girl Sangita Sharma quit a highflying job to plunge into a soul-soothing vocation, organic farming, after having successfully tried her hands in multiple verticals: as a journalist, ad personality, air hostess and corporate brand ambassador for world’s largest aluminium company.

It was just after reading her lengthy corporate profile that this correspondent made a visit to Gopathi Farm at Singapurahalli of Vidyaranyapura, on the outskirts of Bangalore.

The first scene from the entrance of the farm, Sharma is busy harvesting wheat with her co-farmers Gopal, Ramcharan, Kriappa and Ganga while another farmer Kela is readying an organic lunch in the farm kitchen. It was Sangita’s father Major P N Sharma who influenced her to develop a green thumb.

Have you ever seen green (ripe) or black tomatoes or deep red, purple or green pop corns or peppers (capsicum) in chocolate or purple colour. Well, we are not talking about plastic replicas. If you want to experience true bio-diversity, a visit to this farm is a must.

You will find over two dozen varieties of tomatoes of unique shades and shapes grown here. Each fruit of Doublerichtomato variety (deep red) weighs over 500 grams, it contains twice as much Vitamin C than most other tomatoes while Carorich, a deep orange variety is a little bundle of Vitamin A. Black Prince, in deep garnet, gives big fruits. She grows a wide variety of cheery tomatoes and also pear-shaped red/yellow tomatoes. Mountain Gold and Golden Delight and Galina (shades of yellow/orange) and Green Sausage (green even when they are ripe).

Chilly varieties like Cayenne, (Long Mexican deep red), Jalapeno (deep geen), Bulldog Hungarian (deep red double lobed) or Tabasco Short (very pungent small yellow). And pepper varieties like Banana Early Sweet (organge & pale green), Goldie (orange), Italian Sweet (red), Miniature Chocolate Bell (chocolate) and Purple Beauty. Squash varieties like Blackforest (green/orange), Golden Delicious (yellow/red) and a large tuber crook neck-zuccini.

Different kids of limes, root vegetables including carrot and beetroot, radish, cabbage, cauliflower and a wide variety of leafy vegetables as also exotic salad greens are grown on this farm.

Staple grains wheat, ragi and rice are grown in adjacent fields fringed with coconut palms.

The soil in Gopathi Farm is free from pesticides, chemicals or insecticides. Biocompost/biomass and Panchkavvya (a mixture of milk, cowdung, yoghourt, cow urine, ghee) and Amrut Pani (cow urine & jaggery), are used as manure and biopesticide.

The farm also looks like a ranch with four large lactating cows, three calves and 3 huge traditional bulls and pack of 9 dogs, Simha, Lika, Ra, Rock, Jazz, Bushy, Ticky, Vicky and Ravan.

“For me, farming is part of my right to safe food. Biodivesity is the measure of health of all forms of life. It protects the soil from destruction, but modern chemicals and pesticides have poisoned our soil,” she said.

She also works with Annadana Soil and Seed Savers Trust, an NGO, set up by a few like-minded people to protect, propagate, conserve, multiply and disseminate open pollinated, non-genetically modified, non-hybrid vegetable seeds.

Organic replicable seeds are stored in a solar operated Seed Bank based in Auroville. In the past seven years, about 35,000 organic vegetable seed packets have been distributed free of charge each year by Annadana across the country.

Farmers are not able to produce their own seeds as they rely on impotent seeds. They are also not able to procure seeds.Organic products are becoming a fad and are meant only for the rich. On an average an adult spends Rs 15,000 on branded drugs. The entire food chain is contaminated right from the seed.Some 25 lakh people are diagnosed of cancer a year in the country. Eating safe food is the only solution.
mini.joseph@timesgroup.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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