I spent yesterday at Matrikunj, the organic garden, and it was lovely. We spent part of the morning working on the documentation project, me on my tiny laptop and Bhaburam with his endless stories and insights on the importance of nurturing the land. Bhaburam and I toured a different part of the garden that I hadn’t seen yet. We scoped out a crop of tall banana trees that were just starting to bare fruit. Banana plants are the coolest. Every part is used, even the stem. Each banana bunch has one large dark red flower attached to it. Banana blossoms are eaten as a delicacy, in stews or raw. The hearts of the flowers have medicinal blood purifying properties, increasing hemoglobin levels, and also help relieve menstrual disorders.
You can see the multiple generations of trunks, standing one beside the other. The grandmother’s grey trunk limply stands, decaying into fertilizing groundcover for the younger plants. The mother tree stands beside her, and then the younger ones, bright green with massive leaves, heavy with with green bunches of bananas. Bhaburam says he keeps up to five generations before trimming them. If this display of multi-generational family love doesn’t make your heart soft, I don’t know what will.
The sugar cane is at its peak now, so we harvested some and sat in one of the Bhaburam showed me how to scrape off the top layer with a scythe, and then your teeth to pull off the next layer to get at the chewable the sugary fibers underneath. I have only had sugarcane once before, in Hawaii, but it was already cut and bagged, not exactly the same as chopping it down yourself.
Lada, a friendly Matrikunj worker, helps clean the canes for pressing
I could only manage about two sections before the sweet became too much, but Bhabuji chewed his whole piece of cane like it was going out of style. Later in the afternoon we made juice with the rest of the cane, putting the sticks through a metal handcrack to press the juices. We drank the golden juice with nimboo, squeezed lime. Needless to say, it was beyond delicious, and very worth the sore arms.