Goa! The first thing that comes to your mind on hearing the word is beaches. Almost everyone who visits Goa does so for its beaches and its party. But rarely are there those who actually wishes to visit the place for its culture, heritage and other wonderful experiences. We decided to go the offbeat path and visit this beautiful Spice Farm in Ponda.
It was almost midday when we made our way to Sahakari Spice Farm. They welcomed us with a welcome drink and asked us to wait till we were assigned a guide for the tour. It’s was huge farm spread in almost 150 Acres, though the tour took place in a small area. Through the tour, the guide took us around the place showing various spices like nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, peppers, turmeric to name a few. There were vanilla and coffee plantations as well. He explained various uses and medicinal benefits of all the plants there and also taught us to recognize the genuineness of the same. Did you know that brown cloves were the good ones, or that cinnamon is nothing but the bark of its tree which lives for almost 15 years, that vanilla is a creeping vine? We learnt a lot of such things about spices and other plants that we use in our kitchen everyday but have faint ideas about the sources of the same.
He also showed us how the fruits of cashews were processed to make a local drink called ‘Feni’. Feni is a triple distilled spirit and is widely used by the locals for both medicinal and alcoholic purpose. Only the fruits that ripens and falls from the tree naturally are used to make Feni. The fruits aren’t plucked from the trees. The alcohol content in Feni is about 40-45% but unlike other alcoholic drinks, Feni doesn’t give hangovers. It is distilled only from February to mid-May. The locals believe that Feni is more effective than cough syrups to clear the respiratory system. It can combat flu, cough and common cold. That’s the reason why Feni has been used as medicine by mothers across Goa to treat their children (even infants) for centuries.
The best part is they use only organic fertilizers in cultivation which they prepare in a large pit using all the fallen leaves and dung of elephants, buffalo and cows. Yes! they even have elephants on the farm. They also have a stream flowing through the farm and just the look of it is so soothing on a warm sunny day.
The walk tends to leave you exhausted and they have a solution for this as well. At the end of the walk they pour cold water infused with citronella and other essential oils on your back which leaves you relived. They have a small store where they sell all these organic spices and other essential herbs and oils. The products sold there are genuine and the quality is very nice.
We had lunch there in the farm and that was the highlight of the entire trip to the farm. Lunch was very simple yet very tasty. Everything used to prepare the food came from their farm. Instead of steel utensils, they used wooden ones to use the insulation properties of the wood to keep the food warm. Our guide was Francis D’Souza. He was knowledgeable and knew his work really well. His passion showed in the manner he spoke about every plant in details. He took all our questions very patiently and answered them with great interest. The entire trip was an experience in itself and I would highly recommend it to anyone who visits Goa. Even kids shall enjoy this tour to the spice farm. This trip shows us the other side of Goa which is culturally rich and well preserved by the owners as well as the staff there.
For more information on the Farm please visit their website here.
Do share your experience of the same in the comments section!