The story behind Krishija - Retail Store for Pure Food from Farmers sold directly by Then

A farmers’ collective would sell their produce (grown without the use of any pesticides or inorganic chemical fertilisers) directly from Krishija cutting out the middlemen and the regular paraphernalia found in large supermarkets.

Architects: Anubha Fatehpuria and Richa Bose
Firm: Associate Architects, Kolkata
Project: Krishija, A Retail Store for Pure Food From Farmers sold directly by the farmers, Kolkata
Client: Community Revival Foundation (CRF), Ecological Agricultural Trust and Rainbow Organics (RO)

A farmers’ collective would sell their produce (grown without the use of any pesticides or inorganic chemical fertilisers) directly from Krishija cutting out the middlemen and the regular paraphernalia found in large supermarkets. The organisation aims to connect food growers with food consumers enabling a large diversity of supply and purchase of food at prices which are fair both to farmers and consumers.

Architects in kolkata

Site: The store premise was a part of Lake Mall, on Rashbehari Avenue, one of the prime commercial zones of Kolkata. Across the road is a very popular roadside local vegetable and fruit market.

Design concept: Two important concerns guided the design...

  • The farmers should feel at home and be able to relate to the ‘designed’ space, located in an otherwise very urban fabric. They should not feel inhibited in the mall setup.
  • The local vegetable and fruit shops all around the store shouldn’t feel threatened. The design didn’t want to challenge the roadside vendors across, instead seem as an extension to that facility.

Hence the look and feel of the Krishija store, as envisioned by the architects, was to match the client’s design brief – of being aesthetically ‘basic’.

The space has been designed using things used by the farmers as well as local vendors on a day to day basis such as wooden crates, bamboo baskets of various shapes and sizes (jhuris), bamboo rice separator (kulo), gunny bags, earthen containers, weighing scales, buckets, pulley, ropes and agricultural tools.  They have all been locally purchased. Function demanded stack and display of produce (grains, spices, vegetables, cereals, dairy produce etc) both in small as well as large quantity Function and Design came together as below:

  • The gunny bags were given a ‘gamchha’ lining which immediately reinforced the local connect also visually reminding us of the physical toil of the farmer in the villages of Bengal.
  •  Small rakes used by the farmers were used to design a light fixture.
  • Bucket and pulley, generally used to pull water from wells was designed to stock green leafy vegetables or any tall self-standing produce.
  •  Weighing scales used to weigh produce was designed to display spices since smaller quantities were to be put on display.
  • The wooden handle of the spade was used to hang the lights from the wall brackets.
  • Ropes, generally used for tying of sacks in granaries and storehouses became the suspending medium for light bulbs.
  • The light bulbs were left naked as a visual reflection of the local vegetable fruit roadside markets.
  • The rice separator (Kulo) used in villages has been designed as a display platform for lighter produce.
  • The ‘Lakkhi jhampi’ (a small bamboo basket used in religious offerings in Bengal as a symbol of prosperity) has been designed as the measuring container for rice and cereals.
  • Bamboo baskets and wooden crates of different sizes have been arranged at different levels to display various vegetables and dairy produce.
  • The brackets have been painted in the primary colours to lend a sense of festivity, celebration and cheer associated with harvest.

Simple wooden shelves supported on M S brackets, old wall hung fans, gunny bags full of produce raised and kept on bricks, no air-conditioning, bamboo stools as seats were some other features which were adopted to keep the look and feel – absolutely basic and taking care that the farmer can comfortably feel a sense of belonging.

In other words, ‘a blending of traditional and non-destructive modern’ was attempted.

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