Turning a new leaf with Vistaraku

Vistaraku is Hyderabad-based Madhavi and Venugopal’s enterprise to deliver again the custom of consuming on leaves

On a morning stroll round their gated group in Gandipet, Hyderabad, Madhavi and her husband Venugopal Vippulancha had been heartbroken to see a pile of disposable plates and cutlery dumped at a road nook. Adding to the distress of the sight was the non-biodegradable waste (milk sachets, disposable plates) that cows had been feasting on. The couple began to consider an alternate possibility, holding in thoughts the dangerous results of consuming from low-cost plastic plates.

This led them to contemplate wholesome and environment-friendly alternate options, like plates made out of leaves of banana or palash timber. Venugopal says, “We name them vistarakulu in Telugu. They are principally dried leaves stitched collectively with skinny dry twigs. Though they’re nonetheless accessible, the utilization has come down. With all occasions large and small turning to buffet choices, leaf plates had been regularly changed by sturdy, leak-proof paper plates with plastic coating and color, with dangerous chemical compounds.”

Turning a new leaf with Vistaraku

The couple determined to deliver the development of leaf plates again and named their venture ‘Vistaraku’. They began making frequent journeys to their farmhouse in Siddipet on being urged to take action by Madhavi’s mom. Venugopal says, “It was due to my mother-in-law that we frequented the farm and began planting natural fruits. Then we observed that our farm was properly endowed with palash (flame of forest tree) whose leaves are historically used to make vistarakulu (leaf plates). Our caretaker dismissed the tree calling them ineffective as a result of the fallen leaves wanted to be always cleared. We began gathering and making plates out of the leaves as they fell. They couldn’t be stitched; they had been too small for use for meals however had been best for snacks and breakfast.”

Turning a new leaf with Vistaraku

Being a member of natural farmer and meals teams helped Venugopal and Madhavi perceive some great benefits of leaf plates. Naturopaths on the teams mentioned why cooked meals, particularly cooked rice and uncooked meat, was historically lined with palash leaves.

“Apart from including flavour to cooked meals, palash can also be identified to have insect repellent properties. Our search took us to a group that helps tribal leaf cultivators in Odisha. The leaf, which the group harvests, known as siyali. Tribal ladies trek into forests in teams to reap them. The leaves develop as climbers and are a protected species. Once collected, these are offered available in the market to be made into plates and bowls,” says Venugopal.

He is grateful for the attain by natural meals teams on Facebook. One such contact put them in contact with a provider who works for the welfare of the tribal communities.

Turning a new leaf with Vistaraku

Their subsequent step was to seek out machines that convert these leaves into sturdy plates. A mechanical engineer, Venugopal says that the equipment was accessible. “Even although working these machines isn’t any rocket science, there aren’t any takers. Reason being there is no such thing as a regular provide of leaves. And if the machines break down because of minor glitches, the service staff takes at the least a month to take care of them. Since we had sorted the issue of regular leaf provide, I put my engineering expertise to practise and labored on the machines to repair them. Soon, we began making vistrakulu with assist from two women from the village; now now we have a staff of six.”

The course of of creating these plates is straightforward; stitched leaves are positioned on squares of onerous brown paper with a polycoat. They are then put in between heated frames of desired measurement and form, with the leaf going through up. “The temperature is anything between 60-90 degrees centigrade. Pressure is applied for about 15 seconds. The heat makes the fine sheet of plastic on the hard brown paper act as gum that makes the leaf stick to it,” explains Venugopal.

Starting native

The couple started supplying to events held of their Gandipet society and household capabilities. “That was the only way we marketed Vistaraku. Friends and family started posting on social media about the plates, and we got a good amount of traction. Until then, we were just producing and not knowing where to sell them. Surprisingly, there are a lot of enquiries from abroad about our product.”

Vistaraku, for now, is simply being offered by their Facebook account or by their web site. Size of meal plates vary from 11 to 16 inches, breakfast plates vary from six to 10 inches and bowls from three to 6 inches.

They may be discovered on FB as Vistaraku or go to their web site: www.vistaraku.co.in

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