bees

The full story

The full story 559 397 Abby

About ten years ago, we heard about a opportunity to become part of the farming community in the Loncomilla Valley, Chile. Friends of ours informed us that their neighbours, the owners of a small farm tucked away in the coastal hills near San Javier, were moving away. Our family had fallen in love with Chile on a recent trip. It seemed as if the stars had aligned and that small farm, Fundo Meza, became our home. At first, our dad (and to-be farm manager) Tom spent some time camping out on the land to get a feel for the fields, before the entire family joined and the hard work began.

And so began our journey into regenerative farming.

We planted our first baby trees in 2008. Since then, we’ve worked with the land to slowly and steadily grow over 8,000 olive trees, from which we produce our delicious extra virgin olive oil. Each olive is harvested by hand on our farm as part of our simple philosophy: we do not add anything synthetic and work with the life of each tree. It takes time, but we learn more from each tree year upon year. Sadly the farm suffered a devastating fire earlier this year, destroying almost all of our olive trees and making our produce minimal. However, our energies are focused on healing the land and subsequent regrowth. You can read more about the effects of the fire here .

Olive trees are only part of the story. We began making natural wine and agraz from the old pais vines that remained on the land. We also work with the bees to produce a small amount of honey and care for our vegetable gardens. Today, we distribute our raw, homegrown products in the UK and Chile.

As we learn more about the web of life and organisms everyday, we also learn more about the vital elements of creating a flourishing farm. We aim to work with all parts of the ecosystem to increase biodiversity on the land. While we initially drew influence from ‘conventional’ organic farming, we have expanded our thinking toward permaculture practices, natural agriculture, solar energy and more.

Without access to irrigation canals, our nearby natural springs and two shallow wells are our only source of water. We’ve embraced this by nourishing our olive trees with little water to eventually become dry-farmed. Over the last decade, we’ve experienced earthquakes and forest fires that have dramatically changed the landscape. Still, we do what we can to work with the land in its natural state, which helps us stay aware and have respect for the lifecycles around us. In doing so, we’ve gone far beyond our farm’s organic origin.

We’re committed to building a holistic ecosystem.

Inspired by certain challenges we met along the way, as well as the observation of the archaic ways in which many farmers record vital information about their farms – we set out to create more modern solutions. Abby, the coder and physicist of the family, developed mobile apps designed as smart and simple farming solutions: Sectormentor, to help us keep track of our fields, and Workmentor, to help us keep track of everyone working in the fields. Through building these tools, Vidacycle Tech emerged as a way for us to empower other smaller scale farmers around the world to be more resilient in the digital age.

Along with these apps, we’ve also built a combination of solar pumps and windmills on the farm that keep our water running. From our windmill pump and our solar hot water, to our organic vegetable and fruit gardens that feed us year around, there are many exciting and forward-thinking things happening here.

We’re keen to nurture our growing community, both locally and globally, as we share our journey. Whether visiting us on the farm or following us on social media – instagram, twitter, facebook – we want to share with you as we carry on learning by doing. Together, we can inspire a better future for people and earth.

pollinators

pollinators 150 150 Abby

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Around the world there are many ‘save the bees’ campaigns because large numbers of bees have mysteriously died off over the last 20 years. According to Greenpeace a third of all our food depends on pollination by honey bees and other insects – so it’s important we look after them. Of course on the farm we don’t use any pesticides, and we try to keep a good mixture of plants around so the bees can feast away. They seem overjoyed by the vast quantities of flowers on the olive trees. Spread the word, save the bees!

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new homes

new homes 150 150 Abby

Each hive is gradually being transferred from the traditional bee boxes, to this slightly more radical structure adapted from a Barefoot Beekeeper design. There is much discussion around the world about colony collapse disorder, and recently the EU acknowledged that this was at least partially due to neonictinoids – a type of pesticide. We take a very natural approach to the bees, only harvesting part of the honey each year leaving them plenty for the winter, and of course we want to provide them with a comfortable home. The buckets on each of the legs are not part of the original design but a much needed addition here in South America. Each bucket is filled with water to stop the ants overwhelming the beehives and stealing all the honey.

bees & honey

bees & honey 150 150 Abby

honey

We have a partnership with the bees, they are very hardworking and produce an excellent quality of honey.  We are currently experimenting with new designs of hive to provide a more natural home for the bees.

 

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