If you thought coffee was just a morning drink picker – upper, think again..
We were delighted to see that Vayu (Bewild Medium Roast Indian Filter Coffee) and Sandhya (Bewild Medium Roast Cold Brew) lend beautifully to a delicious evening drink too!
Here’s a recipe shared by our Coffee Consultant Geetu Mohnani:
Coffee Kiwi Tart
Crush the Kiwi fruit pieces along with brown sugar with a mortar and pestle. Transfer this to a glass. Add ice, decoction and then tonic water to top it off and enjoy!
This delicious drink is completely flexible too – you can replace Kiwi with any citrus fruit and even add some alcohol to turn the drink into a cocktail.
Do try this and let us know how it turned out. We would also love for you to share your experiments with coffee. Do write in..
Whenever you visit a traditional home in Coorg, the first thing you are likely to notice as you step inside the gates is a Woody fragrance. This generally emanates from the courtyard that has lent Itself to the drying of coffee beans over the years.
Coffee is deeply embedded in the lives of people from this region.
Almost like an R K Narayan novel, everyone is somehow or the other linked to the growing of coffee. Neighbours, classmates, school teachers, vegetable vendors – would all invariably have worked at or owned a coffee estate or a related service.
Coffee almost forms the fabric of this region. When we took on a coffee plantation to set up the first Beforest Collective, we essentially enrolled to be a part of this fabric.
And there was no better time to soak in the culture and traditions, than join hands during the harvest season. Poomaale is currently harvesting coffee of the season. Each day, everyone works all-hands-on-deck in some capacity or the other.
The pure joy and peace that comes from sharing laborious work, some jokes and a simple meal is indescribable. Even those of us on Team Beforest, who work from a desk, make it a point to spend at least a few days during harvest season at Poomaale.
We are often rewarded with old stories and songs around the campfire and a hearty night’s sleep is guaranteed.
Coffee is harvested in 2 blocks each year – sometime between January and March and again between October and December. If you find that you can get away from the city during these seasons, do make it a point to visit Poomaale and share this wonderful time with us.
‘The Problem is the Solution’ is one of Bill Mollison’s original Principles of Permaculture.
One of the biggest challenges confronting many of us running orchards along the Konkan coast has been large swaths of laterite and very little soil. A quick drive across the region will show you acres and acres of mango orchards with trees literally built on circular raised bed like structures with not much else growing around.
The key to running a cost effective farm is reducing the input cost and finding ways to have multiple harvests across seasons. Cashew plants take a good 4-5 years before growing big enough to bear fruit, while alphonso mangoes can take upwards of 7 years. The wait is long and has often driven many to give up mid-way.
The question of what else could I possibly grow cost effectively in these conditions always hit the road block of good quality soil and the expense in sourcing it.
During my Permaculture Design Certification, I convinced my group to work on my orchard as our presentation project. Spread over three days we evaluated various options, applied permaculture principles while simultaneously looking for out of the box solutions. A listing of existing resources highlighted that we had 700+ mango trees, each with a raised soil bed of about 2-3 feet in height and an average 20 feet diameter. A quick back of the hand calculation showed us that there was at least a few thousand square feet of land with soil available. The solution to our biggest hurdle was right under these mango trees in plain sight.
After much deliberation, we choose to sow some turmeric under the trees. It ticked off quite a few parameters on my list.
Our first experiment with introducing diversity will soon bear fruit (in this case some spice). Pratibha is a relatively new variety of turmeric developed by the Indian Institute of Spice Research (IISR) has a curcumin value of 6 percent. The harvest, due towards the end of February will help us understand the soil and output quality better and give us the confidence to move ahead with exploring new possibilities. And all it took was to change our perspective about a problem.
The Union budget was presented on the 1st of February, 2022. Apart from the push towards Infrastructure led growth, it was heartening to listen to the Finance Minister talk about how her different policy will lead to ‘Sustainable Development’ keeping the needs of the environment in focus.
At COP 26 in November 2021, India had committed itself to a net-zero carbon emission target by 2070. In terms of natural farming, the government has planned for initiatives like:
Special mention is needed about the proposed issuance of sovereign green bonds for mobilising resources for green infrastructure. The proceeds will be earmarked for public sector projects that focus on reducing the carbon intensity of the economy.
A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects. This is really a great boost for the investors with environmental concerns in mind.
We hope these proposals do see the light of day so that we, as an Indian society move toward sustainable practices.
‘Organic, natural, zero budget, bio-dynamic, rainforest alliance’, etc. etc., There’s endless jargon that surrounds food and farms today and yet we went ahead and coined – ‘forest friendly produce’. If you are wondering if this is a marketing term to give a positive spin to the food we produce, you are partially right.
But there’s more to it. To really comprehend that, you have to understand that Coorg and most of the Western Ghats receives between 100–250 inches (i.e. more than 6 meters) of rain spread across 4 – 5 months. In perspective, that’s an entire district submerged in about two floors of water! A lot, isn’t it?. But it is this catchment that drains into the Cauvery river – the lifeline of Bangalore and Chennai. In other words, the river really gets most of its water after draining through a few 1000 chemical pumped estates before making it into the plains as a source of ‘drinking’ water.
With erratic weather patterns, several estates have replaced blossom showers with sprinkler systems for better yields. When you replace 0.15 inches of rain with sprinklers on a 100 acre estate, that’s approximately 1.5million litres of water (the daily drinking water allowance of 10,000 people) that would have otherwise flowed down the hills into the cities.
At scale, when 1000 estates do this simultaneously, literally sucking out water from the aquifers, to irrigate the farm; lakes dry and wells get deeper. For the surrounding wildlife, it means empty watering holes. What one needs to do is go beyond using only neem oil and manure and think of the impact the existence of the farm has on the surrounding ecosystem.
The Poomaale Estate was an attempt to create an alternative, by building a resilient ecosystem to deal with inconsistent weather. By doing so, we may not be as ‘high yielding’ as our neighbour, but for the 5 tons of wild beans produced, we have allowed 300 litres of water to stay in the aquifers, gradually draining into the watering holes in the area. Hence the term – ‘Forest Friendly’.
So the next time you collect produce from our farms, know this – you have helped a forest dwelling species with 2 days’ worth of water. So sit back, sip that cup of guilt free coffee and reach out to us to know more about the processes that allow us to be this resilient.
The seed community for the Mumbai Collective is almost done with only one slot left. Once the last slot is filled up, we can begin with the legal structuring, planning and studies.
We recently had our first interaction between our team at Beforest and the seed community members and were glad to see an overlap of vision between us so far.
The new year has been full of activity. As we move towards our long term plan of self-sustainability, we have taken the first steps to ensure all staples for the staff come from the farm.
The veggie and leafy patches have been designed and we will be starting with the bed-making and planting later this month. We have also started planning for nursery operations for the coming monsoon. We estimate creating almost 20,000 saplings to execute our plans and this process will also start this month. However we need to first identify the planting plan and sourcing the seeds and saplings, both from nurseries and from the farm.
The housing plan for Clusters 3 and 4 are in progress and we will be releasing the map in March. We have also built a nice garage for storing our equipment and vehicles.
With the stream bed registry reaching completion and check dam sites identified, we will be
focussing on two of the streams for earth works this monsoon. We plan to empty the lake water which seems to be taking on a perennial nature by using it for irrigation so that we can further desilt the bed.
Work at the Poomaale Estate is on at full flow.
The Estate Managers house is almost ready. As the Blyton Bungalow approaches completion, work has started on the interiors and external courtyard. We are building lots of nooks and multiutility corners around the building to make sure you have lots of things to do when you are there. And yes, a place for a camp fire as well.
For the private estates, we have begun the partitioning and paperwork.
The coffee harvesting is in progress and will go on till the end of February. We had done some experiments in Block 1 where we tried 20% shade lopping, pruning etc. These seem to have raised the per plant coffee produce to 3Kg from the previous 1.3Kg. But it’s too early to say this is a trend.
We will be mostly open to guests from March onwards. Watch this space for more.
Challenged for space in your urban dwelling but still want to try your hand at gardening? No worries there’s
an app, I’m sorry, a book for that!
Now in its 3rd edition, Mel Bartholomew’s Square Food Gardening has helped millions of home gardeners grow fresh produce in small spaces and with less effort..
With over four decades of experiences, since it was first published in 1981 and feedback from the millions who have benefited, the latest edition is fine tuned to help you achieve fool-proof results, no matter what the situation.
The book is a treasure trove with over 150 new photos, illustrations and ways to work with new materials, automated watering-systems and even a section on square foot gardening for kids, making it the perfect guide for both beginners and experienced square foot gardeners.
Think you can brew a decent cup of coffee? Now take it a notch up and impress everyone you know and increase the likes on your Instagram page with some cool coffee art.
World-renowned latte artist Dhan Tamang, guides you through step by step instructions to create 60 stunning designs. Learn the art of free pouring, etching, stenciling and some basic patterns and skills like creating the crema (the froth that acts as a canvas in the coffee cup) before moving on to create those cute hearts, and tulips and eventually more complicated artworks.