On my way back to the station I found myself in the company of one who was ferrying five baskets of brinjals—the smaller, globular variety. Beside him there were two others in the TumTum—the four wheeler which carries around 10 people including the driver. We were lucky to have a joyful ride.
“I’m the Police Patil of two villages,” Bhaskar Patil, a man in his mid thirties himself, said introducing himself. “Do visit my farm.”
On an average day he makes around Rs 800 selling each baskets of brinjal for Rs 200 weighing around 12kgs. which he brings to Badlapur from his farm in village Karand, 10kms away. He wakes up at 5.30 am, picks up the vegetables, brings them home and prepares the basket, a time consuming activity- building a pyramid, wrapping it with a cloth and then tying it. So well packaged the basket that there no likelihood of a fruit falling away.
“I got offer for jobs in municipality, a civil hospital but my father was dead against me working elsewhere. He wanted me to look after the farm,” he said with a smile, unhappy what is father decreed decades back. “The jobs were not big ones but they were better and paying than working in farms.”
Bhaskar is a father of two school going kids and known in the neighbourhod for his genial ways. In fact, it was self-effacing and genial nature which made me visit his two acre farm to pick up tricks which I could replicate.
Promising to visit my farm and share his knowledge we parted taking our seats in the Tum Tum. Bhaskar came running handing us a polythene bag containing brinjals, dudhi and galkal. Today was wife was ferrying the vegetables to the market, her five-year old son seated alongside. “He has developed glands on his throats having taken too many cold drunks,” he told us. “No, he’s not feverish but the doctor needs to attend to him.”
Bhaskar may not have heard of organic farming but he believes in using cow dung. In fact, he says, “If you’re a farmer and don’t own couple of cows you can’t be a farmer.”
The visit to his farm made me realize that though he rotated his vegetable crop according to the season and market demands, the soil on which the vegetable plants were growing was lifeless. Yes, there was not a single blade of grass or weeds growing around.
In the coming months Bhaskar has promised to guide me on what vegetables to grow. “You have to use fertilisers like Sufala to have a good crop,” he reminded me.
But then, I’m no Bhaskar Patil. My family doesn’t run on my farm income. I would rather try Panchagavya instead which I plan to make this weekend.