Owned by Thankachan Chempotty, Chempotty Estate is a farm based in Nanjangud that produces organic fruits, vegetables and various products out of cacao residues.
The 59-year-old Thankachan Chempotty calls himself the “son of the soil” for a reason. Born in Thekkumkutty in Kozhikode, Kerala, where his family and the surroundings depended on agriculture, he was deeply rooted in the mother earth. Due to this profound interest in farming, even when he moved into the cities like Bhopal and Bangalore, he bought a 22-acre plot in Nanjangud, Mysore, to push his passion for agriculture. The farm is now famous as Chempotty Estate, not inland but also across foreign boundaries.
Bought around 18 years back when Chempotty was working with various FMCG brands, the farm gained popularity recently, especially after he retired last year in August. Unlike before, when he used to visit the farm, which is around 50 km from his residence, the retirement helped him focus on his longing to grow vegetables and fruits every weekend. As a result, the estate now has around 17,000 trees!
One of the major contributing factors to the farm’s popularity could also be Chempotty’s decision to convert the land for organic farming a few years back. With the decision came a change in the crop pattern and not using pesticides or other chemicals on the land. Today, the farm waves with neem, ginger, noni, sweet potatoes, mangoes, chikoo, Chundakkai, cherries, guava, jackfruit, and around 3,000 areca-nut trees out of which the cherries, areca-nut pay well, as per Chempotty.
Chempotty Estate has 2,000 cacao plants, and it is one of the most loved items of the buyers from the farm. Even Chempotty feels proud to mention that he sells cacao in its fermented form. He has recently collaborated with a couple from Belgium for the cacao supply and often collaborates with various chocolate makers throughout the country and abroad.
Regarding the quality of cacao, Chempotty shares that the soil changes its taste, and hence, it is very region-specific. “Mysore comprises alkaline soil whereas Kerala has a lot of rains making the soil a little acidic, and it greatly impacts the flavours,” he says, adding that brands have always loved the cacao from his farm. Chempotty also mentions that his farm aims at producing “quality beans” for the country, which could be good for health and skin.
Not only do the farming enthusiasts from Bengaluru voluntarily work for Chempotty’s farm, but he also conducts various chocolate training programs for the students and chocolate lovers. A glimpse of these programs and volunteering is also often seen through the farm’s social media.
Nothing goes waste
While all the fresh produce is taken care of, interestingly, not even the residue of the cacao beans is dumped by Jessy Thankachan, Chempotty’s wife. It was her idea to come up with an option of making products out of it. Being a teacher throughout her life, Jessy does not have a background in farming. But now, she equally contributes to the well-being of the farm.
From cacao dips to even making cacao vine and vinegar, Jessy has opened up a whole new section of products that Chempotty Estate sells through an online platform named Costbo. Even more, what could surprise a chocolate lover is that her experiments have also formed a new dish – cacao ladoos!
On the other hand, fruits are also used to make juices, jams, pickles, chutneys, and more. As Jessy keeps an eye on launching cacao sugar very soon, Chempotty mentioned that he is hopeful that customers will give the same love to the new product as they have given earlier to the rest of the farm’s outputs.
While growing fresh fruits and vegetables and experimenting, Chemoptty Estate provides direct livelihood to 9 families of farmers who reside nearby the farm. Apart from selling the farm’s products online, Chempotty does not leave a chance to sell his and the farmer’s hard work through the local and organic markets held in Bengaluru every Sunday.
Most people from the metropolitan cities love all the products of Estate, as Chempotty says. But for the people from his native place Kerala, the mangoes from the farm appeal to them the most.