Meet Sukhchain Singh Gill who along with his son Pavail & daughter in law Kiran run their Organic Farm & Dairy at Village Hansali, Distt. Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab, which is at an approximate distance of 30 kilometres from Patiala, towards Sirhind and about 35 kilometres from Chandigarh. Following his father’s dream, Pavail has created a place where young generations could learn & enjoy a region of their choice and be productive participants in the development of their motherland, Punjab. To me, it seemed like an idyllic life choice with beautiful scenery and the requisite historic barn.
I got a chance to stay and interact with Gill family – a very generous, kind-hearted, and humble people who just believe in doing farming differently rather organically and thus providing our community a fresh chemical free farm produce. The place is beautiful and the surrounding green farms would mesmerise you in no time.
As nature to me has always been a healing place, I was strolling along the farms at the break of dawn, the wheat fields were swaying in the wind reminiscing my childhood days when I grew up playing with tractors and the lucky ones are still doing it now. Not a moment is wasted on the farm. The farm is more than land and crops, it is a family’s heritage & future.
Pavail ensured that I was comfortable in every manner. The moment I arrived I had a discussion with Pavail about the property and how he came up with the idea of an organic farm and further the concept of Ecotourism rather Agritourism. I got to know that the farm is in around 14 acres & since the last more than 10 years, they are engaged in the activity of Integrated Organic Farming of Seasonal Vegetables, Wheat, Basmati & Pulses. The produce is certified Organic by Punjab Agri-Export Corporation, which is the nodal agency for certification of Organic by Government of Punjab.
In addition to the above, they also have a dairy at the farm from where they have Organic Cow milk from both Holstein cows (high milk yielding variety) & Indian origin Desi ‘Sahiwal’ cows for A2 Organic cow milk. (By organic milk, I mean to convey that the fodder & greens of the cows are grown by them at their farm completely organic & are totally free from synthetic pesticides, sprays etc – as told to me ).
I then unpacked my backpack and walked up to the fields to see the surroundings. Meanwhile, the sun was about to set and I was eagerly waiting for this moment as the colour tones in the sky were becoming so alluring due to the scattering of light. It was so magnificent and delightful view to feast my eyes upon. I tried to capture this divine phenomenon and luckily it came out well.
After I was done with capturing some beautiful places around I had my dinner. The dinner was served in the dining room next to my room and was extremely delicious. The kheer they served was sumptuous and tickled my taste buds. I also took some pictures of the property at night and they came out pretty good too.
If the sunset was such a beauty how would be the sunrise, with this thought in my mind I woke up early so as to capture the mesmerising sunrise. Though a low lying fog had formed above the fields due to irrigation, the sun emerged through the hazy sky and gave a view beyond my imagination. The sunrise landscape took a beautiful saffron hue. Meanwhile, the birds started singing a melodic tune. It was truly a sight to behold.
As I came back from the fields, the aroma of freshly cooked paranthas made my tummy rumble, and breakfast marked the start of another day of the heart-warming Punjabi hospitality. I then talked to Sukhchain uncle ji about the farm and how he manages to produce such organic produce without any chemicals. His knowledge of organic farming is unparallel. His hard work is bearing the fruits today.
They also have a goat farm, from where they have an Organic free-range Goat Milk. Also, free-range chickens are available at their farm for free-range eggs. In addition to the above, there is a multi-fruit orchard at the farm for Organic fruits also. Their produce & milk also has a food safety certification from FSSAI. The goats there love to pose, just see how they all are standing still and giving a pose!
There are two little guys at the farm which will ensure you are not bored at all, Benji & Pablo, the cute little labradors squealing here & there. Benji is the older one and remains excited, wagging his tail all around. Pablo is small rather you feel cuddling him all the time. They will offer you their unconditional love and would snap you out of any worries in just seconds !
Best of all, rather than keeping their beautiful farm to themselves, the Gill family decided to open a farm stay for guests! A year back they have started Eco Tourism or I say Agritourism with ‘farm-stays’ at their farm to host guests who are interested in staying at the farm so that they can experience life at a working farm & also learn about organic farming. They are also registered with the Punjab Heritage Tourism & Promotion Board and listed on their website as well. Here you can stay in luxurious rooms with plush king-sized beds as well as a community courtyard for hosting a group retreat or meeting the other guests. Such creative thinking is required to make a living on a farm, or I call it a valuable addition.
They have 2 double occupancy rooms, each with an attached bath & a private patio overlooking an orchard. One of the rooms also has attached dining with it. The rooms are comfortable with all amenities such as flat screen televisions, air conditioning/heating, fresh linen & towels, toiletries, heated water and roosters to wake you up!
I was just taking a walk around in the farm where I saw a plaque mentioning that Prince Charles, Prince of Wales had visited their farm in 2010 who had come to see organic farming at their farm. Woah, I was literally surprised to see that !!! Later they told me that many other dignitaries, such the Hon’ble Chief Minister Punjab & Agriculture Minister, Govt. of Maharashtra had also visited their farm.
Their farm has also had the honour of being awarded the distinction of being one of the 10 national finalists for the Dharti Mitr award for the most outstanding organic farm in India, on the occasion of the World Organic Congress held in Delhi in November 2017. Their farm was the only entry from Punjab to achieve this distinction.
Being an integrated farm, guests can also learn how multi-discipline farming activities (dairy, goats, poultry, fruits, vegetables, wheat, rice, pulses) are complementary to each other and how they can contribute to each other in terms of inputs & output. (for instance the dairy provides the manure for the fields & in turn, the fields provide organic manure for the cows).
The location is just superb with greenery all around, midst of agricultural fields & plantations. The silence can be felt at the maximum level & the property is neatly maintained having very clean rooms. Afternoons tend to have higher temperatures hence AC’s are fixed in Cottages & early mornings & evenings are just great. Power backup is another plus point here. The support staff are also very friendly.
For the farm stay, they offer an authentic experience of life at a working organic farm, with a vegetable garden, a multi-fruit orchard, a goat farm, an organic milk dairy, free-range poultry as well as open field organic farming. The tariff for each room is Rs. 8000.00 per night including meals. Check-in time is 12:00 pm and checkout time is 11:00 am. The tariff above includes the cost of all freshly cooked meals & refreshments (tea/coffee/milk/mineral water/lemonade/soda) by an attending cook (vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as per the preference of their guests, but North-Indian, Punjabi cuisine only). Also, the 1 extra bed per room & meals of the accompanying children are included. Also, the stay & meal of an accompanying driver is complimentary.
A tractor ride to the nearby village is also included in it. Guests can also have a tubewell dip and use the facilities in the common activity room meant for the use of guests having a fireplace, a bar, flat screen television, comfortable seating of sofas etc. They also have bicycles at the farm for the use of guests, and board games to play.
A garden has also been developed with shady palms all around. One can stroll in the garden forgetting all worries of life and enjoying singing of birds. The garden area is also being utilized as a get-together place or a family day out where one can spend time with his near and dear ones and enjoy greenery all around. Buffet of sumptuous food is arranged for such events.
The activities at the farm include:
- A tour of the farm including the orchard/cow milk dairy/goat farm etc and a discussion on organic farming with the owners.
- A tractor ride to the nearby village.
- Bicycles for cycling in the adjoining areas.
- Board games like carrom/playing cards etc. & large screen television in the common activity room area.
- Guests can also opt to take a walk in the nearby area to the village etc.
- Use of tubewell/splash pool by children & adults. Local sightseeing can also include a trip to the nearby Sikh historical Gurudwaras at Sirhind & the Aam Khaas Bagh at Sirhind. (15 minutes drive in own vehicle). Also, guests can opt for a visit to Patiala and shop for handicrafts like Punjabi Jutti/Phulkari etc. (30 minutes drive in own vehicle). In case a conveyance is required for Airport pick up and drop or sightseeing, they can arrange the same for guests on a chargeable basis.
For directions to reach the farm from Delhi, please follow the NH1 from Ambala straight towards Ludhiana, and approximately 17-18 kilometres after crossing Rajpura, take a right under a flyover at Sadhugarh, towards Hansali Village. Around 3 kilometres on that road, the farm is on the right side, before Hansali Village. You can also find the farm location on Google Maps as Hansali Organic Farm & Farm Stay.
It’s a true escape from the maddening pace of the cities and you might just find that you don’t go anywhere but fall into the gentle rhythm of this farm with a glass of wine and a good book !!!
Cheers !!! To those who work in acres, not in hours…