Our farm is called Verdcamp, which translates from Catalan as 'green field'. This is a good reflection of our goals, as we always strive to have healthy and flourishing green fields, while favouring biodiversity and pampering the soil, which gives us a high quality and organic fruit.
The farm is located in Cambrils (Tarragona) and near the sea (less than five kilometres away), with the coastal mountains providing a stunning backdrop. It's divided into five large plots where we grow a wide variety of horticultural species that vary depending on the season. In summer, the star crop is the watermelon, but we also grow pumpkins, courgettes, aubergines, peppers and onions. In colder months, we focus on leeks, cauliflowers, cabbages, fennel and artichokes, among many others. There are other plots with similar crops around our farms, as well as olive groves, some vineyards and some increasingly neglected farmland.
We farm the land in all four seasons, which means that we provide jobs all year round and create economic and food wealth. Between our farm and our warehouse, there are forty to eighty people employed depending on the season. There are some workers who have been at Verdcamp for more years than I’ve been here, while there are other team members who joined us more recently. All this diversity keeps us grounded and gives us a desire to constantly improve. All our workers receive a salary according to the collective bargaining agreement.
I've been a farmer since I was a child. I've always liked the countryside and I love taking care of it and growing food on the land. We're the fifth generation of farmers. Me and my four cousins run the everyday side of things. We used to sprint through these fields when we were little like there was no tomorrow, but now the fields make us run around. That's not bad because we try to farm in the most natural way possible, which keeps us aware of the climate and the natural cycles of our crops and Mother Nature.
Underground aquifers provide the water used to irrigate our farms, which we extract through wells. The watering needs of our crops varies according to the type of plant and the weather. To make sure that we provide the right amount of water, we use soil moisture probes to guarantee optimal efficiency and save energy and water. What's more, we use ground cover to make sure that our soil retains as much water as possible, thereby taking advantage of every single drop.
We manage our farm organically, but we carry out many more actions than are required by regulations. What's more, we hold other quality labels such as GLOBALG.A.P, GRASP and IFS. We don't see weeds negatively as long as they don't compete with the crops, and provided that they give us functional biodiversity in a simple and economical way and help us restore the soil. As long as they don't outcompete the crops, we believe that weeds are an ally. To favour the presence of natural enemies, we plant lots of flowers to encourage friendly fauna, pollination reservoirs and other beneficial aspects. We're part of a major project called Healthy Crops & Bee Happy, which sets out to create favourable environments for pollinators and auxiliary fauna in general. Our farm isn't just about production. All spaces that aren't productive are valued as equally important and functional.
To save energy, we've installed solar panels on our logistics hub, which provide 50% of the energy used. What's more, we're currently installing PV panels to provide a solar pump system that will irrigate our crops. These projects are currently underway, and we hope to complete them in a few years' time.
Any substandard crops stay out on the land, as we make a very good selection when harvesting. Afterwards, we take any of these substandard crops to the warehouse to make compost along with pruning remains. This results in a carbon-rich compost that improves our soil and nourishes our plants in the best way possible.