Organic farms in and around the Valley are not only places to buy healthy food but sites of rustic beauty.
Organic Farmhouse Resort
The Organic Farmhouse Resort is situated like an island in a sea of concrete. A farm is the last thing you expect to find at the end of a paved road hemmed in on both sides by concrete houses, but that is what the route to this farm is like. The farm’s location in the midst of multi-storied concrete houses makes it akin to a chunk of the countryside planted within the city.
Being in the farm is like being in a typical village home. That feeling comes from the ochre-colored village-style house and the tree trunk blocks made into chairs and tables. A couple of feet from there, chicken cackle from their coop and buffaloes languidly swing their tails to whisk away flies. Beyond that are long white plastic-roofed hothouses, inside which are rows of reds and greens of tomatoes and spinaches.
Small bamboo cottages scattered about the farm’s 25 ropanis enhance the rustic feel. Goats nibble on grass and the farm’s employees work the fields. Guests can choose from the dozens of varieties of vegetables and salads. For those who want meat, there are chicken, mutton and fish dishes. The farm also serves alcohol, including raksi made from organically grown millet.
The farm is not for sybarites alone. Those interested in getting a feel of farming or, better, learning more about the techniques of organic farming, can participate in the trainings given at the farm. You can do a simple dig for fun’s sake. Whether you choose to relax in cottages munching on the farm’s produce or decide to turn farmer for a couple of minutes, the farmhouse is worth visiting.
Drive north from the Mandikhatar Chowk (on the Ring Road) for 600 meters to the Kumari Mandir. From there head east, on the road going downhill, until you arrive at Miteri Pul. Cross the small bridge, turn left, and head for Aakasheydhara Chowk; turn left at the chowk. There is a signboard after about 200 meters; turn right there. At the next crossroads, take the steep trail (for motorbikes only) on the left.
The farm has facilities for picnics and family outings. You can also stay overnight at the farm. The farm also accepts volunteers.
Meals of dal bhat cost Rs. 250 and 300 for vegetarian and non-vegetarian respectively. Numerous other vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are available at the farm’s restaurant. The farm also offers a package that includes overnight stay, dinner and breakfast. It costs Rs. 1200.
You can buy the farm’s produce, which includes cabbage, tomato, cucumber, leek, rhubarb, squash, potato, lettuce, asparagus, zucchini, parsnip, beet, Brussels sprout, carrot, celery, butternut, Swiss chard, fennel, spinach and much more. The farm also has stalls at the Bhat Bhateni stores in Naxal, Maharajganj, Chucchepati, Patan and Kalanki.
Sangam Sherpa (9851031807/01-4812553).
Everything Organic Nursery
Everything Organic Nursery (EVON), in Patlekhet, Kavre, is the kind of place a landscape artist would escape to. Neat beds crammed with multi-colored vegetables are flanked by terraced fields tinged with the green of wheat plants or splashed yellow with mustard. Eagles wheel in the blue skies; the silence is interrupted by kingfishers’ dives. Pruned almond, cherry and peach trees stand in the middle of broccoli and blue berry bushes like installation art. People work in the fields, their arduous chores appearing serene in the quiet of the countryside. Add to this a background of snowy peaks. The place makes you want to compose haikus. Or to go one better and become a farmer.
Judith Chase, owner of EVON, once described her farm as “an edible jungle,” and its diversity and profusion certainly makes that an apt comparison. A walk around the farm reveals a kaleidoscope of crops. The delight of strolling in the garden, marveling at colors and sizes and varieties is second only to the sumptuous meals that can be prepared from the farm’s produce. And you can learn a thing or two about organic farming at EVON. The farm holds regular trainings on techniques such as bio-intensive farming, pruning and grafting.
The experience of being at EVON is not only about organic farming. It rejuvenates you with the simple knowledge that the soil on which you stand and the air around you are free of chemicals.
EVON is nearly 42 km from Gaushala. From Koteshwor take the Araniko Highway toward Dhulikhel. When you get to Dhulikhel’s western end, turn right onto the Nepalthok road. After 8 km on this road, you arrive in Kavre Bhanjhyang, from where the road to Namo Buddha forks off. Head straight (east) from there. A little over 4 km from there you will arrive at a solitary teashop on the right (with an EVON signboard). The trail to EVON goes up from behind this teashop. If you want to take your vehicles up to the farm, go down the road another 400 meters from here. This is a dirt road that is very bumpy in places, so it’s better to park your vehicles, especially four-wheelers, near the teashop, and walk to the farm.
EVON conducts trainings for bio-intensive methods on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of every month. The training includes preparing sheet composted beds, planting vegetables and fruit trees, pest and disease control techniques, compost making and much more. EVON also offers short tours of the farm and demonstration of simple techniques to visitors.
Where to Stay
There are 21 households operating homestay programs in the vicinity of EVON. The price per night (including two meals) is Rs. 500 for Nepalese and Rs. 650 for foreigners.
Several varieties of vegetables are available at EVON. The farm also sells seeds and plants. They have several varieties of apple, cherry, pear, orange, grape, almond and nuts plants on sale. Nearly two dozen types of vegetable seeds are also available.
For more information:
Judith Chase (9808038417/ 9851188480; firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jim Danisch (9849058840; email@example.com).
Gamcha Organic Farm
There is a paved road to Gamcha (with considerable traffic on it). Concrete houses are everywhere. At first glance, this village south of Thimi, Bhaktapur is just like another rural area in the Kathmandu Valley being swallowed by urban sprawl. But the area still has plenty of fields, some of them planted with wheat, others with rows of vegetables. And on the final couple of hundred meters to Gamcha, there are white plastic-roofed hothouses almost beside every house; some houses have several of them rigged side by side, giving them the appearance of an inexpensive housing project.
The almost emblematic hothouses here belong to the nearly four dozen households involved in organic farming. The jewel in this community of organic farmers is Gamcha Organic Farm, which is run by the Danish company Sobogaard. Local farmers, most of them women, sell their organic produce at the farm to Appropriate Agriculture Alternatives, a local company involved in organic farming promotion.
The farm occupies a postcard-like landscape: terraced fields, old trees, gardens and a pond embellish the farm’s 20 ropanis. On clear days, mountains loom to the north. Completing the quaint sight is an old house. This is what surrounds you as you sit at the table arranged for you and laid with dishes made from the farm’s produce.
Coming from Koteshwor on the Araniko Highway, turn right at Sano Thimi Chowk. Follow the paved road for 2.5 km. You will arrive at a crossroads with a small temple in the center. Turn left there; Gamcha Organic Farm is a hundred meters down the road.
Visitors can order meals prepared using produce from the farm. They can also take a tour of the farm. The farm also provides trainings for individuals and groups upon request.
Vegetables, fruits, nuts, jams, milk, cheese, pesto sauce and herbal teas.
For more information
Umananda Dhungana (9841094225)