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Mother Nature branches out

The Pé de Salsa farm is located in Senhora do Verde, near Monchique, in a beautiful landscape of valleys, ridges and, allegedly, healing streams that help to nurture the land.

The farm is the result of the tremendous hard work of two young women: Fátima and Ana Rita. Fátima is an agricultural engineer and Ana Rita is a landscape designer.

Over many long and often heated conversations about the ill effects of common pesticides and mass farming practices, versus the obvious taste and health benefits associated with organic farming, the duo decided to take some action and join forces.

“We were acutely aware that we had a great battle ahead, and that nothing would be possible without European and local agricultural funding, along with the help of family and friends,” Ana tells us. “We are so very fortunate to have had this precious help from our loved ones, which enabled us to follow our dream.”

With the business plan in place, the land sourced and lots of helping hands, the mammoth task of preparing the land, constructing the greenhouses, grafting the trees and sowing the seeds began.

“All production is handled with great dedication, respect for the cycles and production rules. We want all our produce to be of the highest quality; that’s our ultimate goal. At our farmhouse, we produce vegetables, fruits and herbs in a certified and organic way. We believe this to be the best way to get a healthy and more flavoursome product,” Ana explains.

With the farm and greenhouses in full swing after two years of preparation, the women set about organising their home delivery business in 2014.

The business is a certified organic vegetable delivery service. The boxes are packed full of delicious, home-grown, hand-picked, organic and sustainable produce from the farm and delivered weekly to various locations across the Algarve.

The contents vary wildly, depending on the season and harvest, but the aim is always to provide a week’s worth of tasty vegetables, herbs and fruits to the customers’ home or workplace.

“Generally, we put a selection of vegetables, salad items and herbs in the boxes along with fruit, when available, and most people are happy with our choice. You can, of course, choose your own fruit or vegetables from the seasonal selection on our website, where you will find only Portuguese, certified organic produce,” explains Fátima. “We also have arrangements with other Portuguese farmers, whereby we buy and sell produce from each other. This is really helpful and adds to the diversity of our boxes. You wouldn’t get great sweet potatoes or oranges from our farm, so we buy them in from Aljezur and Silves and place them in alongside our products. Everyone we deal with is a certified organic producer,” she adds.

The boxes are also Portuguese and come with a one-off, refundable fee of €3 with the first delivery. “The idea behind this is that everything is reusable and nothing is wasted. By charging this small refundable fee, we hope to ensure longevity and be as sustainable as possible in everything we do. If someone wants to stop using our service, they simply give us their box back and we refund the deposit. Thankfully, once people get into the habit of receiving the boxes every week, they generally continue doing so and we haven’t had to refund one yet,” Ana smiles.

“We are often facing an uphill battle, with many people still under the impression that organic produce is more expensive. This is wrong, firstly because when consuming organic produce you are consuming healthy/quality produce and, secondly, you buy the amount that you need for the week and therefore, very importantly, there is no waste. Pé de Salsa will deliver to your home or to your workplace so you can avoid spending your precious time in the supermarket,” Ana explains. “Organic farming is a fairer form of agriculture. As more labour is needed, we can give work to more local people and this helps the economy. We are totally into fair trade.

“It is healthier because it’s prophylactic food, where the philosophy is not to cure but to help prevent disease. We live by our motto: Be healthier and happier!”

For some people, the idea of a box of unknown items arriving on their doorstep can be a little daunting, but with produce of this quality, it’s often best to lightly season and let the vegetables be the star of the show.

Deliveries are on Thursday for the Carvoeiro, Albufeira and Lagos areas.

Now with a convenient pick up point in Carvoeiro, at Earth Shop & Café, also on Thursdays, you can place your order online and pick up your box of goodies.

By MIA WALLACE