The smoky aroma of fresh green, milky wheat being roasted on a open fire, wafts across to us as we drive up into the farm. I feel a great sense of excitement and delight at the sight of rows upon rows of crops and vegetables that lie expansively before me.
My elation goes up further at the sight of several species of birds perching on wires, darting between the plants and flying around, as I look on enthralled. I have reached a farm on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, a city in Gujarat, India.
Ahmedabad is a large metropolitan city but it is surrounded by vast stretches of agricultural land, even within distances of a mere 20 km from city limits.
Ravi Dalal and his father Tushar Bhai Dalal who own and run the Welcome Heritage Mani Mansion hotel which is in the heart of Ahmedabad, also posses a 7 acre farmland which they avidly tend to with enthusiasm.
Most of their grains and vegetables are sourced from the farm and are used in their hotel restaurant, which is quite a luxury for people living in urban areas.
Being a great fan of farms and fields, I requested them to take me on a tour of the place and they willingly obliged.
About the farm –
Tushar Bhai has always been passionate about farming and had owned and lived on farmlands even earlier in his life, until the space was inundated by the growing city of Ahmedabad. Today after establishing his heritage hotel, the WelcomHeritage Mani Mansion in Ahmedabad, he has again taken to farming in his spare time. Lucky to have bought some land within 20 km of the hotel, he has now expanded the place to cover around 7 acres and is growing several crops and vegetables, many of which are novel to the region too.
Wheat and lentils like pigeon pea (tuvar) are grown in plenty and they actually pretty much take care of the needs of the staff and guests at their hotel. Tushar Bhai says that there is no greater pleasure than feeding your own people with home grown produce and I totally agree.
Seasonal vegetables like carrots, lady finger, tomatoes, coriander, mint, various greens, garlic, beetroot, brinjal, radish and many more, line up in rows upon rows.
Outstanding looking tight headed, plump broccoli, robust kale, various types of lettuce etc are some of the more exotic vegetables that thrive here.
They even grow fruits like Ber (Indian jujube) and berries like Phalsa, which I have never seen in south India.
The farm has a couple of workers who stay on site and the rest of the labor comes from the surrounding villages. There is a washroom facility and also plans for a paneer making unit in future, to provide for the needs of the hotel.
A house with all amenities is being built on the farm where the family can stay in future or spend their weekends and holidays.
My experience –
Having never tasted green wheat before, this roasted delicacy was the highlight of my visit. The pleasure of chewing the tender, milky, smoky grain is quite indescribable and has to be personally experienced. My camera and I, just could not have enough of this and I would have sat there the whole day if permitted 😀
However, there was more excitement to follow and I joined them at the rustic benches as they unpacked a traditional breakfast of Poha which was to be eaten with the accompaniments of crisp, steamed sprouts, a dash of lime and a sprinkling of sev … and embellished with cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots and ber that we had freshly plucked. A breakfast in the open with such wonderful elements is a blessing to experience.
A brave little squirrel wanted to partake of the blessings too and we placed bits of our breakfast before him. Like a true foodie, he ignored the veggies and went straight for the sev and also stole a few wheat grains when he thought I was not looking 😀
After spending a couple of hours here, we then returned to the hotel, with the car loaded with the produce of the day, which would find its way into the day’s menu and also the salad bar where Tushar Bhai displays his signature creations from the daily harvest.
Visiting the flourishing farm was a wonderful experience and it would be great if they incorporate it as a part of their guest activities.
Please Note – This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
Feb 26th – 28th, 2020