My name's Manuel García, an active ecologist, farmer and founder of Daiquí. I spent my childhood in Galicia and I can still remember working the land with my father at the weekend. I think this sparked my environmental awareness and my passion for agriculture.
In 1981, when I was studying veterinary science in León, there was a sharp increase in the mining of lignite in my native region, A Limia. On researching the environmental damage caused by that industry, I was so shocked that I decided to give up my veterinary studies in León and create the Limia Ecological Movement together with some friends. From then on, our fight for the environment became our way of life. We started to protest against the pollution of the River Limia, land consolidation and the desiccation of wetlands. In short, our main goal was, and still is, the conservation of the environment favoured by the traditional Galician production system, based on small production plots in natural surroundings.
We spent years involved in major protests until, in 1992, I went off to Brussels to present the environmental situation in Galicia to the European Parliament. Once there, they understood the serious environmental impacts of land consolidation on large estates. In the end, we managed to stop our local council, Rairiz de Veiga, from continuing with it. This was the only council in the area that put an end to the negative effects of the total elimination of the traditional agricultural ecosystem (which creates landscapes, fertility and biodiversity).
However, my fight for environmental action didn't take up all my time, as I was also a teacher for many years. In 1988, I became a non-mainstream teacher at a world-famous educational project known as Benposta, Ciudad de Muchachos. The project provided orphans or the children of immigrants with basic education, as well as laying on workshops on agriculture, film, the circus, etc. In fact, Benposta became the first circus experience in Spain and the second in the world.
It was during my time at this school, teaching the concept of organic farming to the children, that I met the members of a Japanese environmental group. During their visit to Benposta, they told me that they distributed the products of more than two thousand farmers through an association of organic producers. This was the push that I needed to launch the project that we'd had in mind for years, Labregos Daiquí, which ultimately got going in 1996.
The group sets out to continue with activism and environmental protection by fostering organic farming in Galicia. Daiquí means 'from here' in Galician and we use the word to give a platform to locally grown produce and to help our farmers secure fair prices.
At the start, I combined my job as a teacher with my work at Daiquí. Each day, I would finish at the school and then oversee the distribution of fresh produce in Madrid, Ourense and Vigo. Our initial idea was to market just locally produced goods. However, our project gained a strong foothold in Galicia and lots of farmers were contacting us in search of advice. We soon found out that agricultural land was being abandoned because many farmers were unable to sell their food. Faced with this situation, we decided to encourage some farmers to sign up to our project, committing ourselves to advise them and sell their products.
However, our infrastructure and the low levels of consumption in Galicia meant that we couldn't sell all our farmers' products, so in recent years we've started selling to wholesalers across Spain. That's why we set out to use CrowdFarming to sell our best products to consumers throughout Europe. As a result, we want to encourage ecological and responsible agriculture in our region, which would otherwise struggle without direct sales to the end consumer.
Five of us now work full-time at Daiquí. Chus mainly deals with the warehouse and María organises the admin side of things. I'm also helped by my daughter Aroa, who is passionate about ecology, the countryside and beekeeping. Meanwhile, Andrés looks after the cropland, although he also works in the warehouse and conducts the weekly distribution of vegetables in Ourense to our customers. When necessary, we all work together on the land or in the warehouse. Last but not least, I coordinate all the activities held at Daiquí (courses, visits, communication, etc.), I deal with partner farmers and - of course – I take care of the crops. We're a family business and all of us receive the salaries set by labour agreements.