The new weekend markets have become picnic outings, offering organic produce, food and fun

It’s a balmy Sunday morning, a day when those who’ve stepped out of their homes hope the mercury stays within the 40-degree mark. Under the thatched roof of a hall, children sketch patterns and fill them up in vibrant colours. Adjacent to this painting workshop, Pulkit Parikh, a Microsoft employee, is explaining the benefits of choosing plant-based products over animal-based ones to a visitor sampling a cheese-spread made of cashew, with a touch of lime and herbs.

Nearby, a young mom and her daughter take an indulgent bite into a whole-wheat brownie after filling their shopping bags with organic vegetables and groceries. The Adivaram Angadi (Sunday bazaar) at Our Sacred Space is a new addition to the Sunday markets selling organic goods in the city. Dharti Organics (formerly called Good Seeds) has been taking its weekly market to different localities — Film Nagar, Banjara Hills and Secunderabad. A month ago, Best Hands India organised a handloom mela inviting groups working in the sector.

John Ravuri, an employee of Dell and an organic farmer, likes the focussed clientele these bazaars attract. He brings vegetables from his farm in Medchal to the Film Nagar market hosted by Dharti each Saturday. “If I were to sell organically-grown tomatoes in Medchal for Rs. 20 a kg, there are no takers. But when I come to these markets, I meet people willing to pay a decent sum for good food,” he says. Like-minded farmers like John work as a group and bring a wide range of vegetables. Ramesh Reddy, for instance, brings chemical-free cherry tomatoes from his farm in Uppal. Both he and John believe ‘know your farmer, know your food’. Ramesh asserts, “Organic farming is a holistic approach; these markets are good options for us to meet buyers directly.”

These weekly markets have become networking forums for small institutions and individuals dealing with millets, fresh bakes and groceries. Aahaar Kutteer eatery displays its range of millet products, freshly-made jowar rotis and kheers made with little millet (kodo) and jaggery and an ICRISAT employee does trial runs of the institutions jowar products.

Chakradhar, a caterer, began visiting these bazaars to meet people from whom he could source organic ingredients. “As a caterer, I am just one among thousands in the city. Slowly I want to supply organic meals as well. Recently, for a farm tour organised for a small group, I supplied food made using organic ingredients and it was well appreciated,” he says.

For Shipra Chenji, the bazaars were initially an opportunity to meet friends over food. “After our purchases, we’d have lunch with what we pick up from the counters selling organic food,” she says. As a baker who uses organic ingredients, she eventually had a stall as part of the first Adivaram Angadi, stocking whole-wheat brownies, seven varieties of breads made with organic wheat. Apart from loaves to buy, she offered tasting samples of breads with home-made dips. “By lunch hour, I had sold most of my stock,” she beams.

Bazaar checklist

What to expect: Chemical-free fruits, vegetables, groceries, millets, vegan counters, fresh bakes and a small range of handlooms.

Who organises them: Dharti Organics organises bazaars in different localities — Saptaparni (Banjara Hills), Our Sacred Space (Secunderabad) and behind Balaji temple, Film Nagar.

Our Sacred Space hosts Adivaram Angadi each Sunday.

Chenetha Colour Weaves and Best Hands India occasionally organise handloom bazaars at Lamakaan.

What to remember: These bazaars are usually between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Go early since most vendors bring limited quantities, to avoid wastage. Carry your own cloth bags since vendors don’t encourage use of plastic bags.