Food

Visitors are welcome to try their hand at grape plucking here

No sour grapes these: Visitors at the Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University are going ‘ga-ga’ over the grape-plucking experience

One wouldn’t have asked for anything better than taking a walk in a grape garden during the weekend. Enjoying the pleasant February breeze and getting to eat farm-fresh produce was a unique experience. To make Hyderabadis appreciate the yield of nature and taste the best produce of the season, Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University organised a week-long grape festival. The Annual Grape Festival aims to provide visitors with a first-hand experience of grape plucking at its grape research centre.

The 3.5-acre university at Rajendranagar was teeming with people that Sunday. Children were thrilled with the vast open spaces and especially at the thought of plucking grapes. While visitors were given access to the grape garden, there were a few dos and don’ts as well; visitors could pluck grapes from specific creepers they were guided to, and strict instructions were issued on how to pluck so as not to damage/destroy the plants. Visitors were also advised to carry their own bags.

Tasteful lessons

“This is way better than spending my Sunday watching my favourite cartoon shows at home. I have only seen grapes in supermarkets earlier, this is the first time I visited a grape garden. I was at a mango farm last year,” recalls 11-year old Anahita Mohan. Does Anahita like grapes? “Only if they are sweet. Since we don’t know much about varieties, we tasted every variety we saw and picked only the sweet ones. By the time we were ready to leave after picking and buying grapes, my belly was full from tasting,” she laughs.

To help visitors identify the varieties of grapes, each row was marked with names. Some of the names spotted include Kismis, Navrang, Red Globe, Rose, Sharat seedless, among many others.

Every year the Horticultural University auctions the grape farm and subsequently, the buyer, in turn, opens up the garden to sell the produce to the public. Corani Mahesh who bought the grape garden this season says, “People in Hyderabad must know what our state produces. The grape varieties grown here are very good and soon the streets on the highways will be full of grape sellers. By the end of the festival, the farm will be empty of grapes.”

“It was extremely hot yesterday but the children were delighted to see a real farm. Living in a concrete jungle, children hardly to get to see and enjoy Nature. This fest at the University is a good way to introduce children to nature,” says Bharati Raja, a visitor.

Washing ways

Will the visitors return for a festival again? “If any farm is willing to sell pesticide-free fruits like they did at Konda Laxman Telangana Horticultural University, why not,” says another visitor.

According to Ram Reddy, scientific officer at the State Horticultural University, “The best grapes in these parts are known as Anab-e-Shahi, patronised by the Nizams. With resilient weather to support, viticulture has never been as good as in 2019-20; a bumper harvest of over 60 varieties is ready to be plucked at the Grape Research Station farms near Rajendranagar. The Thomson Seedless variety is the pick of the season. Grape cultivation in Telangana shows a leg-up despite losing major chunks of grapes garden land to real estate.”

Prices of grapes at the Grape Research Station farm range between ₹150 and 300 per kilogram. The fest ends on February 20.

Visitors are welcome to try their hand at grape plucking here

Old newspapers and grapes

Back in the 70s and 80s, only seeded variety of grapes were sold on carts in Hyderabad. The grape bunches would be wrapped in newspaper, and not plastic carry bags as they are now. During the grape season, such was the demand that newspapers fetched a higher price when sold to raddi wallahs (scrap dealers)

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:47:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/grape-fest-konda-laxman-telangana-state-horticultural-university/article30842348.ece

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