Travel: Go cashew apple picking at a farmhouse near Mumbai
Explore cashew nut in its natural state, go cashew apple picking, and witness the many shades of summer at a farm two hours from Mumbai
Living high up in an apartment can cut off even the most ardent nature lovers from the soil. Perhaps this is why owning a piece of land is a dream many Mumbaikars - and especially those who have had a taste of what it's like - harbour. Dr Rashmi Pathak, who left her hometown Kolhapur to study medicine in Mumbai, was no different. She longed for the scent of sugarcane that filled the air during the harvest season, and a semblance of all that she had grown up with. To set things right, she and her husband bought a farm near Shahapur in 2001.
The doctor couple armed themselves with the knowledge of traditional manure and bio-fertilisers, and to ensure continuous production throughout the year, chose to have mango, cashew, chickoo and Indian gooseberry plantations on the farm, which they called Aditya Agro. The onset of summer means their 70-acre farm is now laden with red and yellow cashew apples, ready to be plucked and savoured. This Sunday, you can go cashew apple picking, sip on mocktails made from the fruit, and witness farm-life up close in Shilottar, no more than a two-hour drive away from Mumbai.
"We have organised day picnics in the past, but this is the first year that we are hosting guests for cashew-picking," informs Captain (retd) Adityavardhan Pathak, who joined his parents in the running of the farm after he retired from the Armed Forces in 2011. "Unfortunately, we lost 70 to 80 per cent of our trees to a massive fire in 2012. So, I lived on the farm for two years to put things back in motion. The experience was life-altering. When you live so close to nature, it reveals its many shades to you, which change from season to season, and even from day to night," says the Powai resident.
The trail will start at 10 am with a simple breakfast, followed by a briefing session. "Nature has its own way of telling you if its produce is ready to be consumed. If you have to tug at a cashew fruit, it means it's not fully ripe. A ready-to-be plucked cashew apple will give with just a slight twist," shares Pathak. Participants will then be divided into teams for a fun cashew apple-picking competition, where the fruit they pluck will be theirs to take. The Pathaks also provide recipes for cashew apple jams and juices that participants can try at home.
After the trail, a wholesome vegetarian Maharashtrian meal featuring dishes such as bharleli vangi (stuffed brinjals), vaalachi usal (field beans curry), tandlyachi bhakri (rice flour bhakri) and modak will be served. The day ends with a visit to the farm's in-house nursery, where saplings and vermicomposting kits can be purchased.
>> Cashew is native to northeast Brazil, and was introduced to coastal India in the 16th century by Portuguese traders. Its initial purpose was that of a soil retainer to prevent erosion on the coasts.
>> The Jamaicans call the fruit cashew banana.
>> The Indian-sounding word kaju comes from the Portuguese caju or cajueiro
>> The cashew fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
On: April 15, 10 am to 4 pm
At: Aditya Agro, Shilottar, Shahapur
Cost: Rs 990 for adults (Rs 780 for children from 4 to 12 years; cost includes meals)
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