Situated in the mountains of Uttarakhand, Himalayan Haat is a social enterprise that practices jungle farming in Pauri Garhwal, a district in the southeastern part of the state. At the edges of a forest, their fruit orchards and herb plantations are allowed to grow wild, with regular monitoring but very little interference.
The origins of the food-processing company can be traced back to a dairy farm and a fruit orchard in the 1960s by Ronnie Chowfin, who initiated forest plantations on his own land along with government agencies. After he passed away, his daughter Divya Chowfin set up Himalayan Haat in 2014 to revive her father’s efforts at natural farming and forest conservation. But equally, she wanted to work with the local community to highlight produce from the region.
Their products—ranging from fruit preserves and coolers to herb infusions and chutneys—are fresh, and represent diverse seasonalities distinct to these mountains. What set apart Himalayan Haat for us at The Locavore was also their concern for the environment. Densely populated with oak trees, they have avoided replacing them with pine trees known for their invasive nature. Not only are oak trees able to hold onto rainwater, unlike pine, but they also release it into the lower plains, creating perennial water springs.
Watch the mini docuseries Present Tense by Sean Tuckey to find out more Himalayan Haat.
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where Himalayan Haat stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Divya Chowfin, a co-founder of Himalayan Haat. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
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Why We Love Himalayan Haat
- Community first – Their keenness to be involved in community development is heartening. From conducting forest walks with children to hiring older women in their workforce, Himalayan Haat is committed to driving socio-economic change.
- Generating local employment – By consciously practising mechanical processing across all operations—hand pounding, picking, and cleaning—they create further employment opportunities. Supporting women to be financially independent is a priority for the founders.
- Minimal wastage – Pine needles—invasive and highly flammable—populate the terrains of the region, increasing the chances of forest fires during summers. To avoid this, the team at Himalayan Haat collects pine needles regularly, and uses it as cushioning in their packaging.
- Jungle farming – As a part of the forest, the team cultivates and harvests produce naturally, as dictated by seasons. Without the use of additional inputs or creating poly houses, the produce is able to retain its natural flavours.
You practise jungle farming. What does that mean to you?
“My late father, Ronnie Chowfin, would refer to his farm as a krishi jungle, which translates to jungle farming. Our journey of protecting the forest, and farming in harmony with it, started several decades ago. Because of our oak forest, we have spring water for irrigation year-round, leaf litter and leaf compost for mulch and to fertilise our fields, and a healthy soil structure due to all the rich organic matter from the forest. The more we protect the forest, the more it gives back.
We believe that our forest-farmed produce tastes vastly better because of these environs. The forest is our secret ingredient!”
— Divya Chowfin, Indira Chowfin, and Stephen Diederichs, Co-founders of Himalayan Haat
Products We Recommend
This is a paid partnership with Himalayan Haat. We strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.