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Your Farmer’s voice: Los Pepones

Hello dear CrowdFarmer,

We have just finished our first harvest together! First of all, I want to thank you on behalf of the entire Los Pepones team for your trust in us and for your feedback, it has been incredible! This motivates us to continue doing the best we can and to improve every day.

The farmer Maria Martínez, with an avocado and a mango in each hand

The 2020 mango season has seen it all. We have had several serious setbacks, but we have managed to get a good quality harvest. The two main problems involved the weather: unseasonal rain and a heatwave. 

Despite 2020 having been a fairly dry year, the few rainy days we had in the season were during the mango flowering period. This directly affected flower pollination and so fertilization levels were low. The next major problem was on 2 August, when temperatures reached a peak of 47ºC, it was horrible! The sun burned the trees and we lost a lot of fruit. We calculate 20% of the fruit was lost in just a few hours and only one month after harvest. I must admit that I cried with helplessness when I saw the farm like this. However, despite these two issues, we managed to harvest what was left, save the season, and keep the whole team with us.

4 boxes of ripe mangoes

At the end of the shipping season, we had another problem – this time with the Keitt variety, the last one we shipped. The farm had a big fruit fly attack. This insect bites the mango, leaving a very small mark. Although we manually checked each mango in detail at least twice (once in the field and once during preparation) before sending them to you, and we discarded all fruit that had been bitten, unfortunately, some were shipped. The problem develops over a period of days so that two weeks after the fly has bitten the fruit, the mango turns black and rots on the inside. Unfortunately, some of you saw this in your orders. If the issue is not too severe, you can eat the pulp, but sometimes you have to discard the whole fruit.

This is the hardest part of organic farming; it is extremely hard to manage severe attacks of certain pests due to the limited methods available. However, this will help us to be better prepared next year; we will continue to test different methods and I am confident that we will be able to control the problem.

I want to thank everyone who received a mango with this problem for your understanding, we do try our best. We are really affected when these things happen as we strive to produce quality fruit every day and it can be hard to stay positive in these situations. 

Despite these issues, we are really happy, given that we began this project with some apprehension. After all, everything was new to us and it was quite stressful to get everything ready, but it was absolutely worth it! 

Maria Martínez carrying a cardboard box of mangoes

Despite these issues, we are really happy, given that we began this project with some apprehension. After all, everything was new to us and it was quite stressful to get everything ready, but it was absolutely worth it! 

We made other mistakes like putting straw in the first boxes we shipped, which came out of the breathing holes in the boxes and caused problems for the carriers, or not indicating in the letters the variety of fruit that the box contained. This has helped us learn what to do differently next year. 

Maria Martínez and her father in the mango fields

However, I assure you that I am really proud of what we have achieved, the whole team has worked remarkably hard and this sales system has brought us all together, we have become a close team and you can tell!

The work in the field never stops! Before we start the avocado season, we are already preparing for the 2021 mango season:

We are painting tree trunks to protect them and prevent diseases
We are ploughing the land to control weeds and improve rainwater infiltration
I am identifying the adopted trees, so if you adopted a mango tree you may already have received a photo of your tree and, if you haven’t, it will be with you shortly
Soon we will start treating the trees to protect them from the cold winter, putting thermal blankets on the smaller ones so they are not too affected
We are finishing preparations for the avocado season, which are practically ready to harvest.

Maria Martínez picking avocados from an avocado tree

Finally, and although I repeat myself, thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. I never thought that my work would make me so happy, you have no idea how many times you have made my day with your messages or how rewarding it is to know that it is all worth it. 

Thank you very much on behalf of the whole team and I hope to meet you one day at the farm and show you around.

Best wishes and all the best for the year ahead.

María Martínez Hijano

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