Maharashtra has been blessed with beautiful mountains, plains and coasts. These give us not just ample natural beauty to savor, but also endless variety of fruits and vegetables to appease our taste buds. Summer in the state is scorching hot, but luckily we’ve been gifted with juicy and refreshing fruits throughout summer, that act as natural coolant for our bodies. Sugarcane, chikoo, lychee, watermelon, grapes, tadgola and mangoes can be easily spotted as soon as temperature rises post March.
I got a chance to visit a watermelon farm, and I was more than happy to, as it’s my favorite fruit. A two-hour drive from the city took me to greenery filled Wada, which has many watermelon and mango farms. I spent a day in a farm learning about various fruits and other interesting farming techniques, having a delicious meal and of course, having countless pieces of farm fresh watermelon!
How is watermelon grown?
Watermelon plants require warm climate and ample sunshine for growth of fruits. However, the saplings grown from seeds are first grown under controlled temperature, humidity and fertilizers in a poly house. It ensures high quality of crops. They are then moved to shade net area to acclimatize them to sunshine and prevent pest attacks, before being moved to farms. The soil is first ploughed and lined with insect repellent papers. The plants gradually develop vines and are irrigated weekly. When the fruit approaches maturity, irrigation is reduced as it affects sweetness of the fruit.
(In pictures: Watermelon plants in a poly-house, shade net area, watermelon farm)
About the experience
Apart from watermelon farms, we were also taken through papaya and mango farms. A botany professor from Bandodkar College, Thane, showed us the process of grafting. It was surprising to watch something we had studied back in school in books, and felt like a field trip! At lunch time, we were offered delicious traditional homemade food of bhakri, daal, spicy vegetable, pickle, papad and jalebi.
We had a peaceful afternoon, strolling in the farm, and were surprised to receive homemade watermelon ice cream from our hosts! There were stalls that sold fruits and vegetables grown in the farm, and an array of homemade papad made out of healthy ingredients.
The best part was, however, the local villagers performing traditional Tarpa dance while we had a plateful of freshly cut watermelon to devour. The women were dressed in vibrant saree and men in green shirts, performed to the tunes of Tarpa. Later, we all joined them too.
(In pictures: Our lunch, watermelon ice cream, Tarpa dance)
Our first instinct in summer is to pack bags and leave for hill stations, having been bred in the city. I had a refreshing experience by making a small change and heading to a fruit farm instead. The sight of a farm laden with juicy fruits on a summer day is soul satisfying! Our hosts were simple and generous local villagers, who didn’t spare a single opportunity to make our stay memorable, whether it was by offering us their delicacies or showing us their culture. They let us in their farms, homes and hearts. I had intended to know about my favorite fruit and ended up learning so much more. I came back home with a full tummy and a fuller heart.
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(All pictures are taken by me, unless mentioned)