Started by the Adhikari family, Mohraan Farms in Thane, Maharashtra, lets guests bask in the magic of a food forest and revel in nature.
They say Maharashtra comes alive in the monsoons, and anyone who has visited the Adhikari family at their Mohraan Farms in Thane will bear testament to this fact.
As you settle into the magic of the farmstay, you’ll see for yourself why some term the place as ‘a postcard come alive’, while others can’t help but be spellbound as dusk settles.
A pretty set of cottages replete with a food forest, how did the Mohraan Farms evolve into such a nest of nature in a city like Mumbai? What makes it so special that city folk make their way here every monsoon in search of clearer skies and better days?
It all started in 2015.
When his daughter Saee was four years old, Sachin Adhikari, a 39-nine-year-old engineer, realised there was something amiss. His little girl’s weight and height had not increased much in the past few months. This was startling for a child of that age.
Sachin and his wife Shraddha immediately decided to get to the bottom of this and look for possible causes. As they found out through their visits with doctors and healthcare professionals, the reason was simple — a lack of proper food.
In search of healthier lives
They realised they did not have to look far for this organic food, as their ancestral land in Thane was a food forest in full bloom.
This seven-acre ancestral land had been purchased by the Adhikari brothers’ father Savlaram while he was a teacher in Mumbai city close to 40 years ago. In 2000 following his retirement, he had taken it upon himself to move to the village and transform the land. He started by growing mango, chikoo, coconut, and cashew plants, with the idea being to develop the land as an orchard.
Cut to 2016, when Sachin and Shraddha were looking for organic food alternatives. The couple along with their daughter and Sachin’s brother Sameer began visiting the ancestral land every week and spending a few days here.
Sameer adds that having no previous knowledge of growing their own food, help came in the form of an article by The Better India.
“When I read the article, I contacted Mr Suneet Salvi who called us for a three-day workshop on natural farming. This immensely helped us,” he adds.
The family continued to shuttle between the village and Mumbai city, spending a few days every week at their farmstay. They also had a couple of cottages constructed on the ancestral land so the staff who helped their father in the farming could live on site.
However in 2020 when the pandemic struck, the family thought why not move to the village for a few months, since the city had shut down. And they loved it so much, that they never went back!
They even went on to expand the cottages that were built to accommodate more people and installed more facilities in the kitchen.
“This was when it struck us that we could invite guests over to experience the magic that we had,” says Sameer. And that is exactly what they did.
In late 2020, Mohraan Farms saw its first set of guests.
A magical food forest
Sameer says once guests come to the farmstay, they are never at a loss for things to do. But something that everyone loves, even today, is basking in the magic created by the food forest.
Explaining this creation by his father, he says a food forest is a farm where the food is grown in a similar manner to a forest that one would find in the wild.
“This diverse, multilayered jungle devoid of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, etc. ensures the soil is not disturbed frequently. All of this helps build a natural web of life. Guests not only have a chance to observe and awe at the trees but also partake in the harvesting, planting, sowing, transplanting, pruning, etc,” he says.
When the guests are not going on long walks, there are plenty of activities to enjoy.
“To name a few, there is kayaking, swimming in the river, trekking, enjoying beautiful waterfalls in nearby hills, attending informative farm tours conducted by us, cycling, playing pool, indoor games, carrom, board games, archery, and so much more,” says Sachin, adding that the most important among these activities is often ‘to do nothing’.
“Guests have a chance to ground themselves in nature and just be,” he adds. “A regular day at our farmstay starts with the melodious sounds of birds chirping. Then guests can either choose to get adventurous and do some activities or simply talk a stroll along the paths.”
A favourite activity that gets the adrenaline going is kayaking.
As Sameer explains, there is a stream passing along the farm, which is shallow enough for kayaking and also perennial. “We provide life jackets and give basic training to those interested, and they can then try it for themselves for free.”
After a long tiring day of activities, guests can settle down and gorge on a true feast prepared by the family, from the homegrown produce.
“We harvest around 70 per cent of our food from the food forest,” says Shraddha, adding that the quality of the harvest is wonderful due to the diversity of the food grown and soil quality. She adds that they ensure their food is healthy while not compromising on the taste.
“Our staff are all from the nearby villages such as Sakurli and Kambe. Thus they are well versed in the knowledge of wild edible plants growing in and around the farm and also unconventional perennial plants in the food forest,” she adds.
Elaborating on the menu, she says that the food served during a particular season usually features a wild vegetable that is in bloom at the time.
“For instance during the early monsoon, there is a herb cassia tora that is abundant and hence, the menu features dishes such as vegetables and pickles and more made from this,” she adds.
Guests are always welcome to learn traditional recipes from the women at the farm.
‘You’ll never want to never return to the city.’
Rightly said by the Adhikari family, once you enter the portals of Mohraan Farms, you will be immersed in it. The homely atmosphere created by Sameer, Sachin and Shraddha along with their staff — comprising eight women who are involved in the kitchen and 10 men who are involved in taking care of the farm — is just too good to be true.
The farmstay offers tents for staying as well as stream view cottages and glory cottages. Packages for a stay of one day and one night, with all meals included for a couple, are Rs 5,000 for a tent, Rs 8,000 for a glory cottage and Rs 12,000 for a stream view cottage.
The family sees around 300 guests every month.
You can book your stay here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao