garden

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.

late bloomers

late bloomers 559 397 Abby

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We wanted to record a unique* Chilean lifecycle. The healthy green growth so full of life now, in Winter, suddenly dies back in late Spring and looks completely brown withered and dead but then in March the stems rise once again to yield these amazing pink flowers. Always a wonderful surprise.

 

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*(as far as we know this only occurs with this plant in Chile, would love to hear from you if you know other examples of this.)

beet burgers

beet burgers 150 150 Abby

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Every Summer we are overwhelmed with beets, so we have started to try different ways of preparing them. Nothing beats these beet burgers cooked in the outdoor oven. Plus they are pretty easy to make!

You can find the recipe here.

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almonds

almonds 559 397 Abby

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This year the almond tree treated us to a whole bucket of almonds – we picked them in early February because most of the outer green pods had split open and the inner shell was dried out – just ready to eat. We found lots of tiny baby ladybirds nestled under the outershell, a perfect little home for them. Now we just need to use a nutcracker to open the inner shell to get to the actual almonds!

humitas

humitas 559 397 Abby

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There are many traditional Chilean dishes that use corn in innovative ways. Humitas are a perfect little package of corn cleverly contained in the corn husks. We used the corn we harvested from the garden, washed the millions of ants off of it, put the husks to one side, cut the corn off the cob, and then ground it up in the food processor.

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We grated up some cheese, chopped coriander, chillies and had lots of salt and pepper to hand and added this to each little corn package. There is definitely an art to wrapping up the ingredients. We found it was really important to keep the husks in water so that they were more maleable for wrapping and didn’t crack. Also we used scissors to cut the end where it was most curved as often this caused the husk to split.

You can freeze them too, so we found it was quite good to make a lots at once and then freeze half of them.

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refreshing simple courgette salad

refreshing simple courgette salad 559 397 Abby

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Courgettes (or zucchinis) aren’t particularly popular with many of the locals here in Chile. However we made this super simple salad using thinly shaved courgettes and they loved it! The recipe is below:

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4 small/medium-sized courgettes

6 tablespoons delicious olive oil

2 tablespoons agraz

salt/pepper

grate on lemon zest for added flavour

Take a whole courgette, use a peeler to thinly slice off layer after layer of the courgette (no need to take the skin off or anything like that) into a salad bowl. We’ve found it’s easiest if you turn the courgette around every so often so you are peeling from a different side, keep going until you can’t peel off any more and then compost the left over ends. Do this for all courgettes.

Mix the dressing separately in a small bowl. Start with the olive oil, then add 1/3 as much Agraz, a pinch of salt and pepper and grate in some lemon zest for extra flavour. Give the dressing a good stir together, then pour the dressing over your bowl of courgette strips.

Enjoy the delicious light flavours!

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cantaloupes

cantaloupes 150 150 Abby

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Hundreds of cantaloupes are flowing from under the large leafy greens in our vegetable garden. They are a glowing orange inside and taste much sweeter than we have had when bought in a supermarket.

promise

promise 150 150 Abby

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The vegetable garden once again shows the promise of delicious foods to come. The maize is sprouting tall, the squash plants have built their shaded nest with their large leaves and the fruits are bulging green on the trees.

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fields of barley

fields of barley 150 150 Abby

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This is the first time we have cultivated our own fields of barley and we can’t wait to taste our first crop!

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butternut

butternut 150 150 Abby

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