Himalayan Haat is a social enterprise that was started in 2014 by mother-daughter duo (Indira and Divya Chowfin) in our farm kitchen in Pauri, Uttarakhand. It was soon after we lost our husband/dad who had been farming here for decades. We realised that there was no real market for the fantastic produce farmers grew here anymore. It was either sold for a pittance or consumed by the family or just distributed. We wanted to change that. Indira had been making preserves, sauces and concentrates for decades. So we decided to use fresh produce from our farm, supplemented with naturally grown local produce, to make artisanal homemade products. We now make a wide range of seasonal preserves, sauces, juice concentrates, pickles, herbal infusions and herbed salts.
More importantly, we employ, train and enable local village women to get financially independent. Garhwal has a huge problem with alcohol and most of our women have alcoholic husbands and ample stories of neglect and hardship.
These ladies are involved in the harvesting, cutting, chopping, canning and packaging of our products. Our aim is to help them become financially independent while enabling them to create gourmet, beautifully packaged products that they can be incredibly proud of.
Indira, a retired school teacher with years of old-fashioned cooking behind her, dons the chef’s hat. Everything is made by hand in our home kitchen, in small batches and without any additives, colours, chemicals or preservatives.
Himalayan Haat’s aim is to use quality local and natural ingredients to create artisanal homemade products that are healthy and delicious. We’d love to pass on some of the mountain goodness that we can enjoy every day – to you!
However, Himalayan Haat is much more than a food-processing business. Our mission is to be the driving force of socio-economic change in the area.
Alcoholism is rampant in Garhwal and women often end up with the burden of providing for their families, with little or no income opportunities. Himalayan Haat is trying to change the status quo – one woman at a time. Our aim is to help local village women become financially independent.
Our hope is to revive natural farming practises among the local community. Villages that once produced their food and more now lie spotted with vacant fields. We are able to encourage locals to plant trees and grow crops by buying naturally grown produce from them at good prices.
Village women rely heavily on the forest for wood and grass. Unfortunately, this leads to reckless exploitation (including the annual manmade fires that burn the hillsides in summer) of natural resources. In our effort to protect the forests that surround us, we are trying to educate the local villagers about the sustainable use of the forests and other resources.
Our family farm Marrora (a local name for a place blessed with water) is an 8-hour drive away from Delhi in Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand. My father, Ronnie Chowfin, had dedicated his life to farming and forest conservation since the late 1960s. And, as a result of his life work, we have the incredible privilege of looking after a beautiful farm, orchard and forest with rich supplies of spring water that cater to 14 villages in the district.
We follow a “jungle farming” concept on our farm, which is as close to natural farming as can be. We use leaf mould from the forest and cow dung as fertilisers and our fruit trees are planted in between oaks and wild trees. At no stage are any chemical sprays, urea, pesticides or fertilisers used on our crops or trees. We share our produce with birds and wild animals (bears love our pears and walnuts while barking deer go after our chillis and tomatoes!) and feel it is a blessing to be able to share our living space with these creatures.
We grow strawberries, citrus fruit, walnuts, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, herbs like rosemary, chamomile, lemongrass, bay leaf, and various seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, chillis and garlic on the farm.