Today we celebrated a happy one year anniversary – one year of our fantastic Sunday Organic Market. After a few rounds of discussions last July we flagged off with Living Farms, our inspiring friends, and of course, our heros, organic farmers of Bc and Ch blocks. We slowly go to know them, their names, the villages and communities they come from. The kinds of veggies they grow. Suresan, who would bring something new every week, ferns, flowers, roots. And who’s dad would answer the many questions we came up with. Indro, who drives all the way from P on his little moped. Banamali and Ramesh who hosted our visit to their farms and made us flavoured ragi-tea! And of course, the gang from K and a few of our alumni. Amosh has now joined Rayagada college, following in his brothers footsteps.
So for the last year, every Sunday we have woken up to a feast of colour and freshness. “Poison-free” food is what they call it. Dramatic but true! They grow only local vegetable, from which the seeds can be saved for next year. And we’ve managed just fine without capsicum or cauliflower or carrots. We’ve learnt about the seasonality of our food – jhudungo (cow pea) which is planted on the slopes. Luscious red tomatoes in winter. Green leafy veggies of all kinds. Round roots and tubular tubers. Cinderella-sized pumpkins which can be dried and stored for a rainy day. Corn on the cob, yellow hiding in a green shell. Stringy beans, broad beans, gourds, light greens, bright greens, royal purples. And of course the omnipresent brinjals, big, small, long, fat, bitter, sweet, green and stripy, aubergine purple.
Today we meet to celebrate before getting down to business. Speaking of business, no we are not a sustainable market in the capitalist sense. And we are not likely to be in future either. J and A currently subside a big chunk of produce which goes up to the school or patient kitchens. The farmers travel miles on bumpy or non-existant roads by bicycle or motorbike to get to us. They are dwarfed by their big sacks of vegetables. Our people sometimes forget to bring their shopping bags, so we keep running home to bring bags or boxes. Friendly (and endangered) snakes sometimes take up residence in the big blue tarp that is stored under the stairs. We have to keep bartering for change, especially thanks to demonetisation. We’ve had our share of ups and downs.
But we made it so far. 27 farmers and about the same number of staff families. More if you count the hostels kitchens. All eating some portion of healthy, fresh, locally grown produce. Crossing the artificial boundaries of class, occupation, language, educational status. Building relationships with love and respect. And a lot of yummy food! Numero Uno on my list of achievements today!