Imagine wandering across the lesser-known trails of Uttarkashi, marked by thickets of pines. And trailblazing to the neutral coloured river beds, stony pathways, old creaky wooden bridges cawing with every step you take. Such is the vibe of Harsil, that’s why solitude lovers like us call it the “Heartland of Himalayas”.
However, we still haven’t discussed— what else Harsil can offer and this time it’s not about trekking. Yes, Harsil is known for offering trekking expeditions and many of us have thronged here a couple of times. Some for adventure and others for posting some cool content on Insta and Facebook. But this time, let’s unite for farmers who toil in the terrace fields of Uttarkashi to grow ruby coloured apples, most of which don’t make-up to the market and rot in the trees.
Well, this autumn has brought good news for the farmers of Uttarkashi because the 2019 Harsil Apple Festival is all set to begin in Uttarakhand. The fest will run from 23 November to 24 November. Everyone is welcome here to show their support to the farmers of Uttarakhand and buy apples from them.
This hush location of Uttarakhand was unknown to many. It was in erstwhile India that a British man named Wilson who was into timber trade turned this place into an Apple farming destination. This not only has livelihood opportunities to the locals but also raised their standard of living. Hence, the British guy came to be known as “Pahadi Wilson”, as the hill folk deemed him to be a mountain man at heart, who was determined to change the fate of Harsil.
The local people involved in apple plantation for years have been requesting the government to help them to sell off their produce, which decays without reaching the market. Since they didn’t have potential buyers and middlemen to sell off their produce.
The farmers of Harsil had to rely on the neighbouring states like UP and Himachal to put a stamp on their apples so the home grown apples could reach the market. It was in 2018 that this long empending demand was fulfilled by DM Ashish Chauhan. Thence, for the very first time Harsil Apple Festival was organised and held in Uttarkashi to give a platform to the farmers of Harsil.
While addressing the commitee last year, the DM said that by coupling tourism with Harsil Apple festival will make everybody’s efforts fruitful. As it will lure tourists from all around the world to attend the fest, where they will go on an exploration journey. That will meander through rose tinted apple orchards, where they will learn about the work that goes in planting and packing them for sending it to the market, where the shiny apples meet their connoisseurs. He further said that tourists will be able to pluck fresh apples from the orchards, which they can devour happily. It’ll be a great experience for them too than merely seeing apples pilled up on a fruit sellers shop.
Highlights of 2018 Harsil Apple Festival included cultural performances by regional artists, selling fresh homegrown apples and products made from apples like jam, pickle, sweets and other mouth-watering edibles. Treks, heritage walks and nature walks also gave a kick to the fest.
The festival will start today and will run until tomorrow, from 23 October to 24 October. CM Trivendra Rawat will grace the festival tomorrow at 11:30 pm. It is said that more than 10 varieties of apples will be displayed in the fest along with other products derived from apples. Speciality being apple cookies, chutney, cake, juice and pickles.
The famous “Wilson apple” named after Bristish resident Fredrick Wilson, who settled in Harsil in 1840 will also be sold here. He is the one behind the idea of making Harsil, an apple farming destination. In 1859, Wilson introduced “Vance Delicious” variety of apple to the area. He first grew them in his orchards and after finding sucess, he distributed it to the locals. Hence, Wilson apples have become a trademark of Harsil. If you want to start your own apple farming business, this is the right place and event for you. As experts will share info about cutting, grafting, budding, anti hail net, drip irrigation and other important tips to grow quality apples. A field demo will also be offered; young farmers or newbie farmers you must watch out for it.
Apple is the cash crop of Harsil but has been ingnored by the government. The sprawling Apple orchards in Uttarakashi are spread over 9372 hectares of land and produces around 20529 metric tonnes of apples. Harsil rightfully deserves to be the apple of our eyes. Quite late but someone did listen to the locals and made some plans for marketing the homegrown apples. However there are some loopholes in the process.
Not everything is all rainbows and glitters as locals have complained that although crores are being spent in organising the fest. But still the apples are not reaching the govt. contractors who are responsible for selling the produce in the market. The harsh winter and snowfall has also resulted in heavy loss.
It is to be noted that villages like Sukki, Jhala, Jaspur, Purali, Mukhba, Harsil, Bagori and Tharali are foremost in apple production. Apples produced in these minion villages of Harsil valley are famous for their taste and quality. It’s disheartening to see that such quality apples they do not reach the buyers. They are hoping that the 2019 Apple fest will being a ray of hope for them, so they can make their ends meet. If you want to support them, then kindly reach out to them in the festival.
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