This authentic affair centres around a farm located in an outlying suburb of Colombo, the country’s commercial capital. Its basis is the daily work routine of an elderly farmer lady, slow-paced life in this village farm, and freshly prepared local fare incorporating what is grown in its immediate vicinity. The host - a young advocate of sustainable practices and green endeavours - will provide much insight into the merit of farming and consuming in this manner.
Hokandara, lying along the outer periphery of Colombo’s numerous suburbs, is accessible by many of the area’s major roadways and the highway passing through. The farm being situated here and, therefore, in close proximity to city limits, can be somewhat deceptive as you near it. A short bumpy ride down a rugged, narrow lane off the main road, and the terrain changes drastically. Here you encounter the first glimpses of rural beauty inherent in the island’s general landscape.
An acre of agricultural land farmed by an elderly lady from the village is the setting for this local experience. What is special here, is her chosen livelihood and the hands-on guidance she provides to other farmers in the area, in what is generally a male-dominated profession when looking at Sri Lanka’s long agrarian history. The produce found here include dambala (the winged bean), heirloom tomatoes, soursop, and several varieties of chilli pepper. The experience revolves around the plucking of these fruits and vegetables, and their subsequent preparation in her outdoor kitchen. Her reliance on traditional agricultural methods and natural fertilizers such as cow dung in their cultivation, ensure that you are served high quality,
organically grown produce. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and their freshness and nutritional value are immediately noticeable, as you savour a selection of local curries and sautés that employ their use. What is not grown here, is organically sourced from the adjoining farms and other plots in the area. Oil, salt, pepper, and other spices that form the bedrock of our country’s cuisine, are purchased and stored during routine trips she makes to the market in the town closeby. The meal is cooked using a simple firewood stove assembled on the ground with a few fired, clay bricks and her readily available supply of dried firewood. The farm-to-table experience consists of six curries highlighting simple village fare, a local mix of leaves, freshly prepared soursop juice, and a king coconut to refresh yourself and round off the meal! The inclusion of meat, other customized needs, and special dietary requirements can be accommodated; however, we would require prior notice to facilitate this for you smoothly.
The host has deeply embedded roots in the promotion of numerous sustainable practices in Sri Lanka. Shehan’s forte is devising simple, enjoyable and educative experiences that naturally uphold the environment’s best interest. One method he employs, is the cultivation of a deeper connection with what we eat by being mindful of how it reaches our plate. Mindfulness is a recurrent theme in this encounter due to Shehan’s strong personal views on the topic. As he sees it, there is no better way to develop a keener appreciation for the processes involved and the origin of the produce, than through a farm-to-table experience such as this. For, you not only help with chopping the ingredients and preparing the meal, but also assist in collecting the produce as you explore the many treasures of this village farm! This ought to be the foundation for the daily-harvest tradition, according to Shehan and Ceylon Soul. Everything, from the produce found here, the landscape, soil conditions and climate, to the method of agriculture, is in stark contrast to what you might find in the West. And it certainly provides for a novel, local experience.