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Get Curious: Keep Your Hands Muddy

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Get Curious: Keep Your Hands Muddy

Travel to watch and learn to farm

There’s too much pressure these days to eat organic, talk organic, wear organic and generally become organic until you turn into something more fanatic than a tree-hugger. Now there are two ways to achieve this. First is to go spend your savings at fancy weekend farmers’ bazaars. Second is to turn into an ace farmer, the type that boasts making gazpacho with tomatoes sourced from a pot in their balcony.

If the latter intimidates you, try making time to travel to a farmstay for a gentler introduction to the arts of the earth. Continuing our Get Curious series, below is a quick list of (gorgeous) places where you can give your farm dreams a shot. And yes, all organic.

Coorg for Coffee Berries

Rainforest Retreat at Mojo Plantation is tucked away in a forested corner of Coorg. This farm is run by a botanist and microbiologist couple who know how to get aromatic organic coffee from their 20-acre plantation in a tropical montane landscape so inviting that you might want to never leave. Perfect for those actually wanting to hide from technology.

Auroville for Grains

Annapurna is the largest amongst all the organic produce farms of Auroville, which is amongst the pioneers of sustainable practices, doing good work with local communities before everyone got on to the organic bandwagon. They can accommodate up to three volunteers on the farm, which largely specialises in grains and dairy. Priyanka Negi, who volunteered in Auroville, says “I didn’t know a thing about farming except how to water plants in the garden. I walked out of Auroville with a new respect for things like bread we take for granted! Plus I made tons of friends who also care about the land.”

Coonoor for Cheese

Acres Wild in the hill station of Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, is well-known for its exotic gourmet cheeses. Their Cheesemaking Course, which can teach you how to make one kind of cheese per day, is a great intro to the process. You need to do a minimum 2-day course but can extend it to include 9 more varieties including Parmesan, Monterey Jack and Feta.

Kurseong for Tea

Of all kinds of plantations, tea gardens are probably the prettiest with their carpets of green covering entire hillsides. Thankfully, the first tea factory in the world is right here in India and it accepts volunteers too. Makaibari in Kurseong, West Bengal, dates back to 1859 and has been welcoming people curious to learn tea-making processes since 2008. Highly recommended.

Kerala for Oysters

The owner of Oyster Opera – called a resort but actually a very special farmstay – GS Gul has been awarded for his work with the locals. Oyster Opera is high on mussel farming and set in a postcard-serene backwaters area. There are no ‘volunteer’ options, but guests checked in here are more than welcome to go on guided oyster picking and fishing.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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