The Farm Project: Passing down the Mango legacy

Although the farm is close to two centuries old, 'The Farm Project' was launched only two years ago by Sanyaa Mehrotra, co-founder of a creative design studio based out of Delhi NCR.
Prem Chand Mehrotra and Peyusha Mehrotra at their firm
Prem Chand Mehrotra and Peyusha Mehrotra at their firm

While doomscrolling on Instagram in the late hours of the night, I recently discovered 'The Farm Project'. They had posted about the fresh mangoes that grow on their farm in Malihabad, Uttar Pradesh. Here, there was an announcement about the last of Langra mangoes for this season. Being one of my favourite varieties of mangoes that I look forward to every summer, I placed an order with them for five kilos of Langra and then waited with bated breath for the package to reach me. It arrived within two days, directly from their orchard, and when I opened the box, I could smell the heady and rustic aroma of the mangoes and the orchard in it.

Although the farm is close to two centuries old, 'The Farm Project' was launched only two years ago by Sanyaa Mehrotra, co-founder of a creative design studio based out of Delhi NCR. Her grandfather, Prem Chand Mehrotra has been the custodian of the farm since 1945 and officially inherited it in the 1980s and tended to it along with his late wife Peyusha Mehtora. A 25-acre land, it boasts the best of mangoes like Dussehri, Langra, Amrapali, Lucknow and more. Sanyaa Mehrotra launched 'The Farm Project' in the memory of her grandmother to keep her legacy alive.

“I just wanted to try doing my bit for the farm and my grandparents. I run a design studio in Delhi NCR, so that is my full-time commitment, but here at the farm I spend a month or two in the summer, part-time”, she shares. They ship their carbide-free mangoes directly from their farm, across the length and breadth of India

She fondly shared with me about her childhood that was spent on the same farm where her dadi ran the show and was loved by all. From the comforting tehri that she would make in a rustic set-up of mitti ka chulha, to the aam ka achaar and mango shakes that would be savoured by everyone in the summer months, there are traces of her that linger on in that land and in the people whose lives she touched. Soon they will launch mango pickles for order, which have been made using her grandmother’s trusted recipe.

I couldn’t help but think about how we as humans try to hold on and honour the memories of our loved ones through something as tactile as food. From being a functionary element to see us through, to reactive impulses for us to remember our loved ones, food plays a big role underneath all the stress and grief of losing a dear one.

A niche project like this also ensures that future generations take a keen interest in their family’s legacy and preserve it for the coming times. When one receives mangoes from their farm, Sanyaa also sends along with the box a handwritten note that adds a personal touch and helps one connect to them and their legacy.

As I opened the box of the mangoes that I ordered from them, as if it were a reflex, I dunked them in a bucket of water and kept them away for a few hours. A few hours later after drying the mangoes and placing the ones which were almost ripe and ready to be consumed in the refrigerator and then later finely slicing them into neat pieces to be consumed after lunch, I kept thinking about my grandfather who passed away recently.

My grandfather and I would go for long walks after breakfast during the summer vacations that were spent in Dehradun. During that, we would make a stop at the mango cart near the old temple, where he would strike up a conversation with the mango seller diligently sniffing the mangoes and touching them before striking a bargain.

We would fill up our bags and walk back home, where my naani would dunk the mangoes into a bucket full of water and later my grandfather and I enjoyed the fruit of our labour (of sorts!) sitting under the shade of a tree in our garden. It has been a few months since he departed, but each mango this summer has been consumed in his memory and somehow, they taste sweeter.

In the end, it is food that stays back as a memory, against the grief, losses and stress that we face in life. Even in functional, cursory times, food perseveres as the enduring vessel that can deliver the warm, comforting hug that we’ve always related our loved ones to.

Vernika Awal

is a food writer who is known for her research-based articles through her blog ‘Delectable Reveries’

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