When we arrived at Devsar Farms near Bicholim in Goa I immediately felt relaxed. In front of me were rows of rubber trees. I could see green mangoes hanging nearby and a slender cashew tree added to the allure in the immediate vicinity. The parking spot for our vehicle was a giant banyan tree. My usual concrete filled vision found all this extremely soothing.
Farms and green places immediately remind me of home, in the small town of Gorakhpur. My father used to work in railways and I grew up among many trees. However, all of us now live in Gurgaon. When I was young having a green home was business as usual and now I hardly get time to I get nostalgic.
As we were attending Goa’s Coconut and Cashew Festival 2015 it was appropriate that the itinerary included a visit to a cashew farm. For me this was a first as well. We were there at the low season, most of the cashews were plucked but I still got to see a few. After picking up the fruit, the nut is separated from the apple. The nut goes for further processing and the cashew apple is used to make Feni, the famous local alcoholic drink!
Our guide for the day was Mr. Joshi who is the owner of the farm. He was quite happy to show us around, even though the day was hot. He encouraged us to try out any fruit that caught our fancy straight from the tree.
I was game to sip directly from the apple after the cashew nut was taken out. The juice is sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Some find the smell of the fruit overbearing. For me it was not a problem. I was warned to be careful with the juice as its stains are permanent.
Mr. Joshi told us that representatives of cashew factories were happy to come to the farm and buy off the product. Even though the cashew was the main star of the visit there were other attractions too.
Before the visit to the Devsar Farm Kokum was a flavor for me on a packaged juice. And then I got to eat the fruit after plucking it straight off the tree! Kokum belongs to Mangostien family. I loved its tangy/sweet taste. Its skin can be dried and used to make juices and kadhi.
I am religiously collecting the skin of the fruits that I got to carry home. The generous Mr. Joshi gave us a bagful of Kokums to carry home as well. As I predicted there itself, my daughter is enjoying them a lot, she likes tangy things.
This fruit picking session so reminded me of my childhood when the only way I would eat Litchi was straight after plucking from the tree, nestled comfortably in a branch, with juice dripping down my elbows!
As we were walking back to our car, I asked Mr. Joshi if the farm was open to visitors? He said not yet but there were plans to open it later. We also talked about the possibility of letting the tourists get involved with cashew picking and he said they were quite open to the idea!
When we later regrouped for a late lunch at Calangute Beach, I did realize how hot the day actually was. But I was so enjoying myself at the farm that the heat never bothered me there. The visit to the Devsar Farm was one of the highlights of my trip.
PS. I was invited by Goa Tourism on this trip.