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Sunder Nagar – Batashewala Complex

Once a Mughal garden, the 90 acres Sunder Nagar Nursery was visited mainly by people with green fingers. The beautiful monuments that stood in the complex lay barren and screamed for an upliftment. It was in 2007 when the Aga Khan Trust for Culture joined hands with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that lofty changes were made in the conservation and landscape works. After a decade of arduous work Sunder Nursery, Humayun’s Tomb, the National Zoological Park, and the Purana Qila were converted into one large picturesque public park and finally opened to the public in February 2018.

The renovated Sunder Nagar Nursery is a beautiful heritage park housing monuments, lake, amphitheatre.

The Earth Collective

Since then Sunder Nagar nursery has been my escape wonderland when the madness of the city gets to me. I love walking in the vast expanse of greens, marveling at the 16th-century historical monuments, admiring the 280 tree species and the colorful butterflies bobbing from one flower to another. Come winter, it becomes nature’s canvas, with splashes of color and flowers in full bloom. However, there’s another reason to visit Sunder Nagar Nursery every week now. With the gracious support of Sunder Nursery Management Trust, The Earth Collective” by Meenu Nageshwaran welcomes people every Sunday to their organic, natural and lifestyle market.

The fresh bounty lies ready to be picked up at The Earth Collective, Sunder Nagar Nursery.
The fresh bounty lies ready to be picked up at The Earth Collective

Parking and Entry Fee

Swerving the car into the parking lot allocated for the Sunder Nagar nursery, I was redirected by the attendant to yet another “Inside Parking Area” that lies further ahead of the entrance gate. A nominal charge of Rs 35 per person as entry ticket and Rs. 75 for parking got me a comfortable spot in the spacious parking area right next to the Sunday market.

Organic pulses at Gaon Fresh stall

Previously, the Earth Collective held its bazaar in Asiad village where it had become a Sunday ritual to buy chemically free vegetables and organic products, engage in conversations with the producers and make polite hellos to the regulars. However, the shift in the venue comes as a welcome change. The verdant greens and the beautiful Sunderwala Complex at the background provides a sublime experience to vegetable shopping. The entry ticket ensures that one can spend considerable time taking a stroll in the nursery once the purchases are made. In fact, arrangements are made to take the visitors on a walk through the complex. What a happy way to spend a Sunday – soaking in the warm winter sun and leisurely jaunting through the heritage park after the weekly vegetable shopping has been sorted.

All about the Organic Sunday market

The market offers organic products, fresh vegetables, artisan products, home-made goods, including home-made spreads, cookies, and pickles; ghee, fresh farm produce and more. Like a child let loose in a candy store, I excitedly went from one table to another buying and stuffing my bag with farm-grown veggies and fruits. In went, a smartly packed row of vibrant orange kinnow, the plump, red strawberries, a tight cluster of raspberries. I’m such an ardent fan of all the winter leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard, bathua, sarson. The happy, glossy greens were too hard to resist and I bought bunches of them. Just the experience of shopping everything healthy made me feel so good. Once my “Go Green” shopping was over, I headed to purchase some fresh chakki ka pisa grains – bajra, wheat, makki.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are chemically free and naturally grown.

Throughout our growing up years, I remember Mom spending considerable time in our kitchen garden. We would help her in pulling out carrots and radish from the soil. I would squeal with every acquisition, marvel at the color and size before shaking the unearthed vegetables rigorously so that the soil would brush off. The neatly arranged produce would then be taken to the kitchen to be washed and used for later. Coming to the organic market took me back to those days where living life was much simpler and easy. Until a couple of decades ago, mostly everything was organic and pesticides in food hardly made the news. But then those were the days of spacious houses, carefree lives and kitchen gardens in many homes. A lot has changed since then and one can only be grateful to initiatives such as The Earth Collective that encourage social well being, environmental sustainability, and promotion of organic, pesticide-free, natural products.

Stop at Laksh Farm Stall

If there is one stall that I must mention about here, is Laksh Farms. Spread over 12 acres and situated just 45 minutes from Delhi in Mangar, Haryana, Laksh Farms showcases organic methods of cultivation, dairy farming and engages women in women empowerment programmes. They have employed a team of local women at their farm to assist them in the kitchens and on the fields and use their traditional knowledge in cooking and using eco-sustainable ways of cooking food. That morning, in clay pots piping hot kadi and Sarson ka saag simmered on coals. Sanjay and Rajjo, two ladies from Laksh chatted happily with passersby and beckoned me to try their food – bajra, saag, kadi – chawal and gur ki roti. Too early for a full-fledged meal, I gave in to their sweet suggestion of gur ki roti. With deft movements and in the sizzle of pure desi ghee, my gur ki roti was ready and served with a blob of white makkhan/butter. Ah! Eternal bliss! The Red rice Adai with butter and Jaggery at the adjacent Beejom kitchen completed my nutritional gustatory experience.

Rajjo of Laksh Farm handles the bajra, saag and kadi chawal at the stall
I couldn’t resist the gur ki roti which Sanjay makes for me, happily smearing it with a blob of white butter.
At the Beejom kitchen, Red Rice Adai gets ready.

Get the Ghee

Ayurveda prescribes that ghee must be made by the bilona method. In this method, first cows milk is set into curd. Using a wooden churner or bilona, the loni or makhan is churned out from the curd. After evaporating the water from the loni by placing on heat, the residue that remains is pure ghee. Ghee made with the bilona method is far tedious and complex and about 35 kilos of milk is used to produce about 1 kg of pure ghee. More expensive than the manufactured ghee sold in the market and costing approximately Rs 2000 / kg, it is also available at The Earth Collective.

A few suggestions:

  1. Keep a list ready before you leave for the market. This will keep you focussed when making the purchases.
  2. Since the market is not very large, I suggest you walk around first and make mental notes of the prices since they vary from table to table. I found the price of ghee drastically different between tables and they all use the bilona method.
  3. Since the aim is to be environmentally friendly, please carry a bag for your purchases.
  4. Go empty stomach so you can enjoy a hearty brunch there. Besides Laksh and Beejom, more people will be offering sumptuous “food for the soul” starting from the 10th of February.
  5. The Sunder Nagar Nursery has organized walks around the heritage park. Please register yourself as soon as you enter. Don’t miss the monuments in the heritage park like the Mughal Garden pavilion, the Sunder burj, the Lakkarwala Burg and the Sunderwala complex
  6. The timings are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and the market is held only on Sundays.
  7. The Earth Collective will continue every Sunday from 3rd February 2019 onwards.
  8. My personal favorites at the market are Sain for Almond milk, Gaon Harvest for pulses, mustard oil, Laksh for vegetables, Amlaan for milk and ghee and Vedic Tattva for a face cleanser and massage oils.
Pick up chemical free products at the Sunday farmer’s market – The Earth Collective

The Earth Collective is a wonderful venture of bringing together people in a platform that is natural, organic and close to our roots. Hear the wonderful stories from the farmers and young entrepreneurs, touch, feel and smell the vegetables and fruits, see food being cooked with traditional methods. Make a straight connect with these people and make a difference not only in their world but yours too.

Disclaimer: All the views and suggestions are my own. This is not a sponsored post.


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