In case you occur to go by the quaint village of Manai in Jodhpur, there’s a cease you shouldn’t miss.
MharoKhet — an experiential farm — isn’t solely a novel alternative to expertise how an actual farm works, however has additionally been rising and supplying recent produce throughout Jodhpur for 2 years now.
To Rajnush and Vedika Agarwal, the duo behind this initiative, the concept of turning their 30-year-old ancestral land into one thing that provides a peculiar ‘farm-to-table’ expertise appeared idealistic at first. However as they recall to The Higher India, they’ve all the time been unflinching lovers of nature.
Whereas visitors pour into MharoKhet’s 40-acre premises daily — some to get a tour of the farm and others to get their share of the recent produce — the Agarwals sit to recount the way it all started.
A visit to Japan, an concept, and a farm
In 2019, the couple took a visit to Kyoto, Japan.
Rajnush, an engineer who has been managing his household enterprise for years, says, “The journey put so much into perspective, as we realised that the greens grown in Kyoto have been well-known all throughout Japan, merely for his or her freshness. We learnt that the greens have been even utilized by Michelin-star eating places.”
“If the Kyoto mannequin was such a raging success just because it was a farm-to-table mannequin, might we replicate the identical on our ancestral land, the place we had been cultivating tomatoes and different greens for every day consumption for the final 12 years?” questioned Rajnush.
And so the couple determined to commercialise the enterprise, promoting the produce grown on their farm to folks in and round Jodhpur with a promise — “every part you order will probably be delivered to the doorstep inside 4 hours of harvest”.
Deliveries have been to be slated for Tuesdays and Fridays.
Rajnush explains they applied drip irrigation on the farm, “which saves 60 per cent water in comparison with conventional strategies”, and began rising crops with the intent of sharing it with all of Jodhpur as a substitute of simply their kitchen.
The farm-to-doorstep enterprise began in November 2020 on a excessive be aware. This was the identical time that individuals’s consciousness about well being and well-being had grown, free of charge the COVID pandemic. The Agarwals noticed a increase in enterprise and folks’s curiosity in consuming recent produce. The mannequin was a success, however Rajnush was nonetheless not fairly happy.
“Whereas there was a burgeoning demand in the area people for recent greens, I needed to offer folks a style of one thing they’d by no means had earlier than, one thing that wasn’t accessible within the native markets,” he provides.
So with this concept in thoughts, he and Vedika took a leap of religion and ventured into an area that many farmers in Rajasthan wouldn’t be courageous sufficient to get into — unique greens.
An abundance of unique veggies
“It’s easy logic,” says Rajnush. “In case you can supply your prospects one thing unique that nobody else can, you’ll get an excellent buyer base. It’s the identical with unique greens.”
However venturing into unfamiliar territory meant that the couple met with quite a few hurdles. For one, there was the realisation that the market was ever-changing, that competitors was plentiful, and that “you possibly can by no means get too comfy”, he notes.
Furthermore, “what nobody tells you is that the ultimate product not often seems like what you discover in grocery store aisles — the form is distorted, the dimensions isn’t good — and once we bought our first batch, we didn’t get any patrons,” he provides.
Regardless, the couple slowly discovered their footing with an unique crop that they personally cherished consuming at house — broccoli.
The subsequent few months have been stuffed with interactions with completely different specialists from IIIM (Indian Institute of Integrative Drugs) in Jammu, who got here down to coach the staff of farmers, in addition to CAZRI (Central Arid Zone Analysis Institute) in Jodhpur, which carries out research on desert vegetation.
Immediately, the fruits of those endeavours will be seen throughout MharoKhet — fields ample in chamomile, cherry tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, recent oregano, sage, kohlrabi, black carrots, golden beetroots, kale, iceberg lettuce and so forth, recent jalapenos, and so forth.
The couple not solely makes use of this produce for his or her farm-to-table expertise, but additionally sells it to houses and eating places throughout Jodhpur. “Now we have a system known as BYOT (Carry Your Personal Tokri), whereby the produce harvested on the 2 days of the week is packed into paper luggage and baskets, and delivered to doorsteps inside 4 hours,” says Rajnush. Together with houses and eating places, the produce of MharoKhet can also be a success amongst pastry cooks, confectioneries, and bakeries.
Superb eating meets sustainability
The experiential go to is split into two components — the tour of the farm and the eating expertise.
The previous lasts for round two hours — visitors are taken across the farm, proven the completely different crops, defined the method of constructing biopesticides, proven the composting pit, and made to know the idea of a zero waste kitchen — whereas the latter is the feast.
“Engaged on a clean slate has been fairly thrilling,” says Vedika. “Our ethos at MharoKhet is to champion ‘native’ and ‘sustainable’ and whereas curating the expertise, at every contact level, these sides are all the time given main significance.”
On the feast, visitors can visualise the farm-to-table idea in all its glory. “As a lot as 90 per cent of the seven-course meal comes from the farm,” says Rajnush, including that this features a starter adopted by chilly soup (common in Rajasthan), adopted by a salad, three entrees and dessert.
“Each dish has a hero protagonist, which is a plant,” Vedika explains. “As an illustration there may be our Indore road type bhutte ka kees, the place corn is the principle ingredient; soy braised cabbage; gourd and lentil loaf with chaat flavours; okra (brinjal) crunch; and shengdanyachi stuffed jalapeno on wheat crisps.”
“Our concoctions are aimed toward making a flavour profile. We got down to create dishes which can be atypical, not a part of normal menus. So there was no benchmark or recipe to observe however simply the tenet that they not solely have to be nice to eat, however visually interesting.”
“Our crockery is manufactured regionally by artisans from Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. We additionally use trellis mesh of creepers/climbers versus concrete for constructing wall separators throughout the strolling path,” she provides, emphasising the sustainability quotient at MharoKhet.
One of many visitors, Sapna Bhatia from Delhi, says her expertise at MharoKhet was unparalleled.
“From the time you enter until you’re seated on a desk beneath a guava tree, you are feeling you’ve got entered a unique world — a world of concord with nature and its environment. I might suggest it to others as a result of it’s a nice superb eating expertise in an surprising setting within the Thar Desert,” she says.
Whereas the entire expertise prices Rs 4,500, visitors can go for solely the tour (Rs 2,000) or solely the eating (Rs 3,500).
Whereas the couple has welcomed 600 visitors for the reason that inception of this mannequin, they are saying they measure their accomplishments in different methods.
“Throughout the farm tour, visitors can break the infant corn from its cob and peel and eat it, similar to that. The minute it hits the palate, it looks like sugar melting in your mouth. To have metropolis folks expertise this, is what our endeavours have all the time been directed in the direction of,” says Rajnush. “That second for us is success.”
For extra info or to guide your experiential tour click on right here.
Edited by Divya Sethu