‘Eco-friendly’, ‘go green’ ‘being kind to nature’ are words that we hear often. But how many of us are really serious about being considerate towards Mother Nature? While these words and phrases have mostly remained mere buzz words for many, there are a select few among us who are passionate enough to go that extra mile to be really eco-friendly.
Mysore-based Chida Shivanna is one such intensely passionate person who is not only considerate towards the environment, but also made sure he builds a sustainable enterprise as well.
Being an engineer by profession, he worked at various technology firms in the United States until 2002. However, he always dreamed of creating an organic farm in his home town. This dream eventually was realised in the form of ‘Oxygen Acres’ – a vast green farm that produces organic milk and milk products from pure and hygienically bred cows.
Located in a village called Aregowdana Halli on the outskirts of Mysore, the Oxygen Acres farm has today become well known among people who seek organic food products not just in Mysore, but across the country as well. Talking about the progress and popularity of his farm, Chida Shivanna says, “When we first thought of coming up with a place like this, our idea was only to cater to our family and a few close friends. But with time, the word of mouth spread, and many who heard about our milk products began asking for larger supply and thus our business began witnessing progress.”
However, Shivanna believes in having a few customers and maintain certain quality standards for the products produced, instead of having too many customers which would make maintenance difficult for him and his employees. He states, “We initially started with 4 cows in the farm and we have 40 cows today. But since a year and a half now, we haven’t bought any more cows since we want to concentrate on maintaining the health and hygiene of our place and the cows. We are happy with what we do.”
What makes Oxygen Acres different?
While there are many organic farms and milk producers across the country, Oxygen Acres stands out due to its immense focus on preserving freshness and hygiene. Shivanna says “Freshness is our key focus. The milk we sell is untouched by human hands. Our cows are milked by milking machines, and the milk is stored and delivered in reusable hygienic food grade containers. Our cows are fed the way our ancestors fed them, and when they become sick, our doctors avoid giving them antibiotics. In case if it is necessary to give antibiotics, the milk of that particular cow is not delivered to our customers or used to make milk products for a duration of 14 days after medication.”
The morning milk is delivered to customers within an hour of milking to ensure freshness. Hence, milk from Oxygen Acres is delivered only to customers in Mysore city, while other value added products such as cheese and paneer are available to people elsewhere. “We do a honest business by providing thick pure milk free of water adulteration and by delivering them in reusable containers, we save a lot of plastic waste too,” says Shivanna.
Oxygen Acres is also known for producing the best quality of cheese products in south Karnataka. The credit for this goes to Shivanna’s effort to pursue courses in cheese making at universities in the US and gaining the technical knowhow.
What’s more, those who wish to see the place can also take a tour around the Oxygen Acres farm. This helps visitors to understand the process of cheese making, get hands-on experience of the process, taste some delicious cheese samples, take a look at the hygienic cowshed and walk around the lush green field and breathe in some fresh air!
Ask the brain behind this beautiful place as to how he feels about establishing a place that’s not just eco-friendly, but is also catering to those who love going organic. Being a modest person, Shivanna simply says, “It’s a good feeling; many of my friends in the US are so happy about what I do and it inspires them to do something similar and go organic.”
Text – Ambika Nagaraj
Pics – Ambika Nagaraj, Oxygen Acres