From Nepal to Truro, with love
Couple puts down roots in farming community
In Nepal, sweet potatoes can grow as large as a man’s thigh. Perhaps this should be expected from a country whose mountains scrape the stratosphere, but here on the Cape, in the rolling glacial moraine built upon remnants of ancient peaks, people want their potatoes small enough to plate alongside a filet. Here, the points of reference are grains of sand; in Nepal they are the snow-capped roofs of the world.
This is but a single detail to which one Nepalese family in Truro has had to adjust. In addition to the process of immigration, and assimilation into the United States and their Outer Cape community, Digree Rai and her husband, Bhala, have had to learn the tastes of their neighbors and customers who enjoy produce from their vegetable gardens at Down Home Farm. Thus, they gather sweet potatoes at relatively diminutive sizes, and they cut their arugula when it is still young, before it acquires the bitterness that would be preferable back in the foothills of the Himalaya. Bhala’s broad smile as he describes these cultural differences speaks louder than any explanation; the couple’s labor is clearly one driven by love, by the delight that arises through the exchange of culture and great food.
The 2018 season will mark the fourth consecutive summer the Rais have worked as full-time farmers in Truro, and their garden is set to continue expanding to meet increased demands for locally grown produce. From a small plot in the backyard of Truro couple Ron Singer and Janice Allee to an expansion that spans more than four acres on the property today, Digree and Bhala have been instrumental in the transformation of the area’s landscape. Organic in every way but name—certification is a complicated and expensive process—the couple uses only compost and cow manure to fertilize their vegetables, growing produce that is free from chemicals and pesticides. “I like the really dark soil,” Digree says, “not the sand. It’s good for growing.” Their natural approach to farming also reduces the overall impact on the environment.
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