The internet seems like a never-ending library to get information about anything under the sun. And yet, when it comes to practical occupations like farming, it may not always be adequate. “The fact is, if you genuinely want to understand what farming is all about, you need to get your hands dirty and try it yourself. More importantly, you need this first-hand experience to know where your food comes from,” says Neha Bhatia, the brains behind Prodigal Farms, a Delhi-based agro-tourism organisation. “A school student visiting my farm asked me where the potato trees were. We may giggle, but most children know of potatoes as the vegetables that they get in markets. How will they connect them as produce grown by the quintals in a farm?” she remarks. Wanting to bridge this distance between consumers and the cultivators is what prompted her to start Prodigal Farms. The organisation not only helps you understand the basics of natural farming but also empowers farmers to give up chemicals and go organic with their produce instead. When they had started out on a farm in Noida, only two crops were growing in the 2.5-acre plot of land. Today, when you visit their sites in Noida, Bhimtal and Muzzafarnagar, you will be greeted by healthy earthworms, bees and butterflies that nourish a field that grows 150 varieties of 40 different crops! Want to learn the techniques of natural farming? Click on this link to book your slot for the workshop in Noida, NCR.
What can you expect from the workshop?
Neha and Puneet, her husband, have arranged for you to connect with the farmers who grow your organic produce. In the 6-hour workshop, you will get demonstrations on how to farm without chemicals as well as the opportunity to get in the field and try your hand at farming. The couple welcomes adults and kids on their farm, and the chance to learn is open to all. “In our experience, this becomes a lovely bonding outing for the family. We have something for everyone—from children to their grandparents. There’s farming and tasting authentic organic food but also an opportunity for you to keep the city away and relax in the green outdoors,” explains the economist-turned-farmer. For more details about their Noida address and price, click on this link.
The inspiration behind Prodigal Farms in Noida:
Before she left for London to pursue her Master’s degree, Neha was working with an educational NGO and as part of her job, would regularly interact with farmers across India, and discuss government policies with them. When she returned three years later, she could see a stark difference in the outlook of farmers. Most of them were under crippling debt, and as a result, did not want to continue with the occupation. “That was one reason. I also lost two young friends to cancer, and I am sure that the harmful pesticides, fertilisers and preservatives in our food were responsible in some capacity,” she says.
As someone who is passionate about feeding people, she decided that growing and serving organic food was her duty. With the support of her husband, Neha interacted with several young farmers and convinced them to give up using chemicals. “It was a tough ordeal because they were so used to adding chemicals. But over time, we could persuade 25 farmers to join us in our cause. Now, since the farmers rightfully focus on the monetary benefits, we offer them twice the amount of Delhi’s minimum wage guidelines. We also upskill them, so they are not merely cultivators but also add value to their crops with culinary practices and such. When you visit their farms and workshops, you are adding to their income. Today, they are a group of happy 25 farmers associated with The Prodigal Farms.” Are you excited about meeting the organic farmers in Noida? Head to our shop to book your slot now.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)