Vibrant, Green Karnataka!

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India Farm Visits 2023: Karnataka

Hello from vibrant, green Karnataka!

This is the home of Merwin and Regina Fernandes, cultivators of your Hennali Jungle Pepper! After a short flight from Maharashtra, we landed in Bengaluru and then drove 5 hours to reach the Fernandes’ beautiful farm. The weather here was perfect, 74-78F during the day and only dropping down to ~68F at night. We had just missed the heavy rain season but still encountered an occasional light drizzle.

Pictured: Hennali Jungle Pepper, and the wonderful farmers responsible for cultivating it.

The Fernandes’ approach exemplifies forest farming – the cultivation of seeds under the protection of the indigenous tree canopy. This forest farming allows for a truly regenerative environment for the peppercorn vines to flourish naturally. Merwin and Regina then go several steps further - focusing on key principles to ensure maximum nutritional content and flavor of this pepper:

1. Bio-Diversity over Mono-Cropping: An assortment of root crops, grasses, shrubs, plants and trees existing in harmony contribute to a rich environment. With an array of flora present, diseases are less likely to spread from plant to plant, and pest management is naturally curbed.

2. Soil Health: The Fernandes’ recognize that soil is far from the static, dormant brown matter that it is often portrayed as: rather, it is a brimming ecosystem of its own, containing earthworms, roots, minerals, and mycelium – the all-important fungi which allows for communication between plants of the forest.

3. Organic Manures: Jeevamrutha, a combination of manure from native cows, natural liquid manure, and specially-mixed compost. This potent, nutrient-dense mixture is used to power their forest farm.

4. 100% pesticide free farming + a hyper focus on precise harvesting techniques for maximum cleanliness.

A moment for the food!

During our visit, we were served a delicious assortment of Mangalorean and Konkan food made by Regina. The twist? The Fernandes’ follow a 100% whole-food, plant-based diet. They eat no oils or processed foods of any kind ever! We eat plenty of dairy and meat, and we thought we would miss it while we were here. This could not be further from the truth! Not only was this the most nutritious food we have ever eaten, but it was so hearty and flavorful that you don’t miss meat and dairy at all. Everything we ate was grown on their farm!
Breakfast: Exclusively fruit + a fruit & greens smoothie
Lunch: Salads only – no cooked food at all!
Dinner: Cooked foods without oil- a variety of regional recipes

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