By Ajay Naqvi
I never came to Romania. Romania happened to me. In fact I believe Romania should happen to most people like me. In today’s torn world imagine Romania becoming an ideal place where the best people live, eat, grow, make and participate in culture. Imagine a Romania grounded in a self sustained economy with an eye to preservation.
Romania can be the light! And it must be.
My life began in Mohdi, Raipur (I don’t remember but was told by my parents that I was born in a small village in an obscure part of India). My father was in the forest department and we lived extremely close to nature – a life full of greenery, with deer and many cats and dogs over the years. But we were also poor.
We moved from villages to cities and then to even bigger cities. Education led to jobs, jobs led to money, money to family and eventually to a crossroads.
In the year 2009 I married Ramona, a Romanian, and we had a son soon after. Our instincts to provide him with the best made us look for options outside of India. Cleaner air, parks to play in and a life not spent in traffic or roads. We agreed that Ramona and Oliver would move to Romania but I would hang back as my career was taking shape with Coca-Cola India as Head of Creative Excellence for India and South Asia.
They moved in 2011 and then in 2014 Oliver popped the question to me in Paris on one of our regular family holidays. When your four year old proposes to you, you can’t refuse, can you! Especially when he says: “Papino when are you coming home to live with us?”
In September 2014 I moved to Romania, giving up all life as I knew it in India.
At first, I did not settle in well with the language and people, and I missed my country and its cuisine. So, I went back in 2016 to head up marketing for Airbnb India. However, Romania was waiting to happen and one fine day Ramona told me about a blueberry farm for sale. I said: “buy it!”
With no prior experience in farming, it seemed to me and everybody around us a foolish jump, but in hindsight I think the need to be with family, be healthy and live longer, the need to keep our child happy and provide a solid future for him made me come back again.
I think we bought the farm for our son. We became farmers for our son and we produce for him. And therefore not only did we choose farming but we chose the most difficult type – organic farming.
This farm is not our business, it’s us. An extension of us and our value system. Since 2016 we have managed to grow it gently, nurturing it wisely. We have not allowed any commercial pressures to ruin the beautiful fruits we produce. We dig in and fight everyday while people around us go commercial from organic in part due to the absence of labour and also to the back breaking hard work organic farming requires. There is no quick fix in organic farming – no pesticide, no herbicide, no stimulants. There is only nature and its harness and its beauty.
Our business model: pre-order, home delivery in 24-48 hours saves us from cultivating fruits from plants that have not been hybridized just for shelf life or in using additives to increase shelf life which most supermarket fruits have to go through.
Having done well over the last 3 years, we have this year found like-minded people who have angel invested in us and we are expanding by another 3 hectares this year and by 5 next year. By 2029 our plan is to have a 100 hectare plantation and also make lovely teas, healthy superfood powders, juices, smoothies, infused water and wine.
I guess we want to share what we share with our son, with you all, who not only wish the best for your loved ones but want to act and make it happen.
Last year we sold 5,000 kgs of berries, we ran out. We run out every year and we love our customers so much for standing by us and hence we are expanding to ensure that in the future we never run out of the goodness we have been made capable of sharing!
Preorder – www.dealulcuafine.ro
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