Society

Straight from the field

It is said that history repeats itself. From a time when a weekly visit to the  sandhai (local market) was a must to pick up vegetables and fruits from the farmers themselves, we moved to supermarkets. Now, with organic products back in demand, there are several places that supply fresh produce once a week in various neighbourhoods.

Supplying to 14 stores across the city — in Adyar, Chetpet, Villivakkam, Medavakkam, Mannady, R.A. Puram, Saidapet, Anna Nagar East and West, Korattur, K.K. Nagar, Selaiyur, Nanganallur and Royapuram — Organic Farmers Market is an initiative that was started in January 2014 by a group that wanted to make organic food more accessible. Gopi Devarajan, one of the coordinators, says, “Although we do not give any certification, one of our members visits each farm that we procure from at least twice a month. This way, we can ensure that the right methods are being used.”



Organic Farmers Market
Outlets across the city — Fridays, 3 p.m.
Tel: 97909 00887
Arockya Santhai, Mugalivakkam — Sundays, 9 a.m.
Tel: 97109 99333
The Corner Store, Kilpauk — Thursdays, 10 a.m.
Tel: 98401 19487
Nallakeerai
Tel: 99626 53311
Tapovana Organic Foods, Pallavaram
www.organictapovana.com
Tel: 99625 76848
By Hand From The Heart
Tel: 94444 14227
Sales begin at 3 p.m. on Fridays at all their outlets; vegetables come from farms near Trichy, Avinashi and hill vegetables and fruits from Kodaikanal. “We’re not a regular market in terms of price. Irrespective of the prices in the market, we sell local varieties at Rs. 44 per kg and hill varieties at Rs. 55 per kg. It helps us give a fair price to the farmer, while making the enterprise sustainable,” says Gopi, adding that customers’ knowledge of organic food has increased and this shows in their preferences and requests for more products.

N. Selvarajan, who has been running the Arockya Santhai in Mugalivakkam for the past three-and-a-half years, agrees. “When we started, not many were interested in what we had to offer, simply because they did not know about it. This has changed, and now, they are willing to pay premium prices to ensure that they are eating healthy,” he says. The weekly supply of sathukudi, mango, pomegranate, banana, chickoo, guavas, tomatoes and more, depending on the season, is available at the store on Sundays from 9 a.m. The prices are 25 to 30 per cent more than the market rates, says Selvarajan, so not everyone goes for it. He sources the produce from farmers in Thiruvallur, Vellore and Kanchipuram.

The Corner Store in Kilpauk gets its weekly supply of vegetables on Thursdays from its tie-up with the Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association. It also stocks greens from farms in Thiruvanmiyur, and carrots and potatoes from Ooty.

For those who might not be able to take time off their busy schedules to visit even the nearest farmers’ market on a given day, Tapovana Organic Farms from Pallavaram has the online solution. On their website, one can order vegetables from the pick of the day, and it is supplied daily. Founded by Jaiganesh C., who has a career as an IT professional, but is passionate about organic farming, Tapovana supplies not only from their own farm near Vellore, but also from over 12 farmers who are part of the Pasumai Organic Farmers Association that he started. “I hail from an agricultural family, and took one acre from my father to experiment with organic farming. When I did not get good enough results, I consulted neighbouring farmers. While they taught me certain methods, I trained them in organic farming. Now, they cultivate what we require and we do the marketing for them, as that’s the most difficult part,” says Jaiganesh. They supply wholesale to 15 stores across the city and have their own standalone store in Pallavaram; and their online store delivers across the city. “Our prices are only a few rupees above that of market rates, as we don’t want it to be very prohibitive,” he says.

Nallakeerai supplies organically grown greens to several stores, and by next week, will be opening more outlets. They are a staple fixture at several periodic farmers’ markets in the city, including By Hand From The Heart. Deepa Sekar, co-founder and curator of the bi-annual artisan and farmers’ market, says, “Initially, we were about showcasing anything made by hand. When we realised that even the farmers use their hands to produce food for us, we started the farmers’ market edition last year, and have had three editions so far.”

Events like this help connect consumers with the producers, giving them a chance to find the nearest places they can, to regularly get a supply of organic foods from, says Deepa. Their next edition will be held in August. She adds, “We can never say what kind of produce we will get, because it’s what will be harvested that day, and will be seasonal. That’s the wonderful thing about a farmers’ market; it’s always a surprise.”

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 3:36:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/organic-fruits-and-vegetables-and-farmers-markets-in-chennai/article7197648.ece

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