Utopian organic farm in Lagoa.jpg

Utopian organic farm in Lagoa

The Watson family really does have it all. They have lived in Portugal, where their children were born and raised, for the last 16 years. They have been at their current home, surrounded by three hectares of land, for the last nine years, and have been growing and selling their own fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs in their farm shop for the last two years.

Da Terra (from the soil) is the name of their business, with the ideology of producing and selling a wide range of seasonal fruits and vegetables. All the produce is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, and harvested as freshly as possible.

The original inspiration for their business came from an increasing frustration with the lack of organic food available in Algarve supermarkets, and a young family whom they believed deserved the best nutrition free from chemical residues.

James and Suzannah were tired of looking at fruit and vegetables in supermarkets, which had been harvested sometimes weeks or months earlier, grown using herbicides and pesticides, which have since been linked to health problems. The couple, therefore, decided it was time to grow and sell fruit and vegetables themselves.

Since the opening of their farm shop, the fruits of their labours have been rewarded. Regular and committed customers enjoy meeting up with each other and chatting in a relaxed atmosphere while they make their weekly purchases. News of Da Terra has been spreading to such an extent, that the couple have decided to branch out, with newly ploughed fields ready to plant, and an increasing range of other organic items in their shop.

James, the grower behind operations, has a huge amount of experience under his belt. He has spent 25 years in horticulture, with the practical skills required to plan and implement the growing of an enormous variety of crops. Currently, there are 30 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs being grown. He also keeps abreast of the ingenious different organic production methods, including cleaning the soil using solar power, as opposed to chemical herbicides and soil fumigants.

The main advantage for customers of Da Terra is that the food really is fresh and tasty, packed full of natural vitamins and minerals. Its salad bags are fresh and crisp, not washed in chlorine with controlled atmosphere packaging. Everything is picked the day before the shop opens and whatever doesn’t sell is given to the couple’s lucky horses.

As mentioned earlier, the shop doesn’t just sell fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs, there are also beautiful cut flowers including many not available in local florists. There is also a range of other organic products, from homemade ice creams to fair trade tea, chocolate, cereals, sauces and natural beauty products, to name a few.

James and Suzannah’s farm is located on the outskirts of Lagoa, right at the roundabout after Fatacil, left opposite Lagoa municipal vets, and 500 metres up the track on the right. Da Terra is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 8.30am to 2pm and may, in the future, also open on Friday morning.

• For more information, call 282 341 388.