Running away for the weekend is the foremost thing on our minds as soon as its Friday. Luckily, on some days you can actually make plans that are worthwhile than just lazing around. Visiting the Table Farm is one of those activities that makes us love weekends all the more. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation, information and working on a real farm.
We were picked up at just after 8 AM on Saturday, an early hour for a weekend, from the private jetty terminal at Gateway of India. As we left the Colaba precinct where The Table is located and has built up a reputation as a first-rate establishment, we wondered what our day of urban farming would look like.
We reached The Table Farm in Alibaug after a breezy ride on a speedboat. Another rickshaw ride later, we finally arrived at co-owner Gauri Devidayal’s bungalow that has been turned into an organic farm from the outside. “I’m soon going to take over my sister’s (author Namita Devidayal) part of the bungalow too,” she says conspiratorially.
Devidayal conducts the farm to table workshop along with Adrienne Thadani of Fresh and Local. Adrienne, who came from the US after her Indian father brought her to the country, took a liking to the country and created a niche for herself in the nascent organic farming sector. After a quick round of introductions, we were taken on a round of the farm. We took in kale leaves; the new superfood from the leaf family before moving on to other veggies growing under the careful supervision of Adrienne and the staff at the farm. We were shown different plants and fruits growing in the shade as well as those that had been left to the elements. The top soil, cultivation cycle and need to build permaculture soil beds was also touched upon. It was one of the most fruitful discussions related to farming and food one could ask for – no pun intended!
Once we had taken in the farm, we were divided into two groups and whisked away for some farm activity. Adreinne told us that most of the grimy work had already been done keeping the seasonal cycle in mind. That meant no working with cowdung or digging up the soil. All we had to do, in fact, was skill fully pluck out spinach leaves along with micro herbs and some edible flowers. This took almost an hour after which we left our produce in the skillful hands of the chefs from The Table.
While we discussed the challenges and growing acceptance of organic farming over a glass of wine thoughtfully provided by the team, the chefs did their best to cook up a storm with the organic produce we had given them. Along with staples they had with them, we sat down for a leisurely lunch that we knew was made from some of the freshest ingredients we had ever had. Needless to say, the dishes were splendid and fulfilling beyond our expectations.
After lunch, we were free to explore the garden and collect items that we wanted framed on a sunlight-sensitive paper. The light activity was a perfect way to relax before leaving back for the jetty at Gateway of India. When the familiar outline of the Taj Mahal Hotel appeared, we couldn’t help but smile at the great day we had just spent at Alibaug. Indeed, for anyone with even a slight interest in growing their own garden or starting a vegetable patch at home, this workshop is likely to help in more ways than one. But even if you aren’t that keen on going green, you can definitely join the team at The Table Farm to spend a day doing something that you wouldn’t do on most other days.
5 stars. This season’s last workshop is scheduled on February 11. We highly recommend you make time for this one.
Images: Priyanko Sarkar
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