10 Gurugram Residents are Helping Organic Farmers Bring Produce to Your Doors

In such a situation, it is vital India finds alternative pathways of well-being, that help generate dignified livelihoods for all, and that help us move towards ecological sustainability.

Before the pandemic drove things awry, people would throng the club patio at South City-1 in Gurugram during the early hours every Sunday. A long line of people would queue up in front of the closed gates of a marketplace, waiting to fill up their grocery bags with organic goodness. 
Even in the freezing winters of Gurugram, when the market would start a bit later, there would be no dearth of eager customers lining up. As soon as the clock struck 7 am and the gates opened, the market would be teeming with buyers and farmers — whose aim was to popularise clean and green food among consumers. Though the market is scheduled to remain open for three hours, the majority of the stalls are sold out within just an hour.
Since 2014, the Gurgaon Organic Farmers’ Market (GOFM) has been catering to the sustainable eaters of the city. The market is largely a citizen’s initiative, spearheaded by permaculture designer Manas Arvind, organic enthusiast Adarsh Kanwal and around eight other residents of Gurugram. 
“The aim is to propagate the idea of treating a farmer as a friend, not simply a vendor. This attitude can impact the producer-consumer relation in the agricultural space of the country. That is why we offer full freedom to our farmer friends — be it in their products or prices. GOFM simply acts as a platform for them to showcase and sell their harvest,” clarifies Manas. 
Another significant aspect of this organic market is the absence of the vacant consumerist culture. The farmers and customers together have fruited a beautiful relationship which prioritises the community above everything — a community dedicated to sustainability. In fact, customers have the opportunity to pay a visit to the farms and assist the cultivator in his work as well. 
Around 50 local organic farmers like Prem Singh are associated with GOFM at present. Each Sunday, nearly 15-20 of them set up stalls, serving up to 500 customers. The turnover per table can range from anything between Rs 6000 to Rs 30,000, depending on the items on offer. However, the organisers do not demand a single rupee of the farmers’ profits. The farmers do pay a table fee and a nominal volunteer expense fee. “Our work is completely voluntary,” says Manas, reiterating their emphasis creating a citizen’s movement of clean, healthy and conscious eating. The ground management, stall checking and verification of the farmers’ backgrounds are all done by volunteers. Interestingly, the market is plant-based, which explains the absence of dairy, honey or poultry.
Implementation during COVID
Within a week from the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, their online portal was launched and the participating farmers were invited to upload details about their products.

The sales and product delivery are managed by the farmers themselves, GOFM online is simply providing a portal at a nominal convenience fee for them to sail through these trying times. “Thankfully, we are still able to supply the customers,” shares Prem Singh. 

“We do not have any interest in turning ourselves into a national brand,” says Manas. The stakeholders of GOFM wish that such local organic market models are replicated all over India, enabling more and more consumers to go local and eat greener.
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