“I don’t really have anything to show you! Just a lot of weed!”was the first sentence Andrés uttered. Thomas and I looked disappointed at each other. “Really, just weed??” Through our chef, Nino, we had been introduced to Andrés and had arranged a field trip to see his ecological vegetable garden, orange- and lemon plantation. Excited as we were, we had invited our friend fotografer Kelly to shoot lots of photos of the produce. Was it all in vain?
But luckily it didn’t take long for Andrés to warm up, and soon his passion for the “garden” became very clear. It also became clear that his first allegation was very much an understatement. He showed us from plot to plot; peas, artichokes, medlars, cabbage, carrots, laurell, cauliflower, red cabbage, spring onions, chard, oranges, lemons, – and we tried it all. Even the limes; handpicked and halfed we drank the juice directly from the fruit. I wouldn’t normally drink lime juice, but this was so refreshing and tasty. He picked some nuts from a tree, opened them and we were enjoing the most full-flavoured pecan nuts ever. He pulled up vegetables, handpicked fruits, cleaned those that needed it and gave us piles and bags filled to the limit for us to bring home and try out. I tried guyava fruit for the first time and was gobsmacked!
Even though his land isn’t that big, it is a lot of hard work. The place was so well kept and the produce standing so healthy and fresh. And the weeds? – well, nearly nothing; that just shows how utterly modest many Spanairds are. I for one, know how many extra man hours you have to put in to grow ecological produce. Being a daughter of a farmer, I never forget the endless days in the sugar beet fields… My dad was determined that to hoe the sugar beet fields manually was the best way to get rid of the weeds. One of our neighbours even mocked him about it: “Why use all that time hoeing the beet fields, when you can kill all the weed by spraying in less than half the time? Man, you are too oldfashioned!” I hated helping out in the beet fields, – it was boring and very hard work. But it has also made me aware of why organic produce has to cost more than the industrial farmed produce.
Walking around with Andrés in his “huerta”(vegetables garden) on this warm, sunny February day, you could feel his pride and joy about his work and we just can’t wait to get his vegetables into our kitchen and serve them for our guests, – and off course make organic juices and lemonades of his fruits.