Interview: Tânia, Quinta da Fornalha

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Quinta da Fornalha, Castro Marim 

ENVIRONMENT

Description of the environment where one of the activities listed above takes place:
(Please, specify: 1 – name of the local area, 2 – if it’s a place well-known for a specific activity and – if so – which one; 4 – information about plants and landscape related to Mediterranean environment linked to the activity; 5 – any relevant information linked to the research). If it’s possible, take pictures/shoot video of this place.

Quinta da Fornalha offers organic products that are available on each season of the year. Its team includes a nutritionist, so as to ensure the selection of products of top quality and high nutritional value.
The company’s vision was put into action after the realization that organic farming is a practice that brings highly competent additional value. Since the awareness of Nature and the interest in it is growing, developing business in agriculture made perfect sense for them. In fact, their customers were seeking for production practices that were going against the trends of the times for industrialised and chemical farming. Therefore, it was urgent to begin to implement biological or biodynamic agriculture, also with respect to the thriving cycles and the seasonality of the plants, without using at all pesticides and chemicals that basically result into contamination of the water, the lands and the human organisms themselves.

TECHNIQUE/METHOD
Description of the technique/method/practice implemented. Please, specify – if it’s the case – the timing, the steps and the aim of the activity (to have more material: pictures + video shooting of the usage if it’s possible).

Their current aim is to make visible the ways of making a living from the land; this is closely connected to enjoying the natural production directly from the nature, without processing it, as well as emphasizing its cultural aspect and organizing activities that promote the sustainable preservation of the natural production heritage.
These goals are also reflecting it the design and the packaging of the products of Quinta da furnace; the company has a fairly long history and reputation in that. Although the Quinta-feira has already been in the Palma Dias family for generations, Rosa Dias manage to rethink about it, come back to the land of her ancestors and provide the production unit with a new perspective, a creative way to revive the traditions and restart the local biological production, e.g. figs and carob. Ever since, the aim was not only to provide the markets with the natural products, but mostly to raise awareness on the Mediterranean Diet.
Such traditions are a key tool to marketing. The label on the product has to be in line with the traditions it originates in; it is therefore always a combination of innovation and tradition. Crucial part of the branding is also the organic certification, but this is easily acquired once the necessary conditions of the Ministry of Agriculture are met.

TOOLS

List of natural products (fruits, vegetables, plants, fish and so on) depending on the activity/the activity is done for and related to the Mediterranean Diet. Promotion of the territory. Promotion of biodiver Promotion of slow and 0% consumptionif it’s the case, how the 0 Km production is working at local level: Region, if it’s a place famous for a specific activity, why and so?

As a strategic move in marketing and networking, the manager of the company constantly attends Slow Food exhibitions. The reason for doing so is the pursuit of creating a fairly strong momentum not only locally but also on a broader scale, almost worldwide. By collaborating with other companies of the sector and establishing partnerships, it seeks to deepen the interest and expand the movement for returning to our origins, coming closer to the nature, appreciating the added value of the local products, promoting ecology as well as responsible and sustainable production and consumption.
For that cause they also designed and implemented an educational programme in schools, where the pupils through Quinta approached artistically the good practices on environment, by learning while drawing or painting plants and animals. It was a project socially and culturally responsible.

PRODUCTS

If it’s an activity related to the promotion of the territory, the biodiversity and the slow and 0% consumption, please, describe how it works at local level (if it’s related to traditional practice or traditional organization of the food distribution, promotion of territory or 0% consumption).

Quinta da Fornalha’s is widening its business portfolio towards providing a holistic experience. The expanded set of products and services includes options for accommodation and catering. They are having a new project, the Taberna churned, is dedicated to recovering traditions related to the food. Their philosophy behind that is that eating is a primary need for survival, but is also a way of improving the well-being. Thus, other than salt, the business areas of Quinta da Fornalha is housing and processing raw materials e.x. jam, butter, carob, truffles, figs.
Especially for fresh figs, the whole production is exported to FrançaTemos and holds a good position in the French market. They have large added value, but they are not an easy product to market-place and manage: the major issue is that since they are fresh, they have to be placed upon the self very quickly. They cultivate two varieties: the Lampu Green and the Black. Overall, the vegetables are not in the core business; they are only produced for their own consumption, for providing the guest houses and the Tavern.

From the prism of innovation, the core products are: chocolate, fig truffles, chutney Fresh Fig, due to adding special value to the business activity of Quinta da Fornalha. They proudly claim that their products have their own personality! This is proved by olive oil for instance, as it has a unique flavor, concentration, nutritional value.

LOCAL/TRADITIONAL ORGANISATION OF LOCAL ACTIVITY

How did you learn this method/technique/practice?

Their idea is to facilitate the transition from production to consumption. In this way the consumers are aware of the entire chain and they can track the origins of their food. The concept is that by treating well the land that we cultivate, the soils will be or grater scale and quality. Hence, it is a cyclic process. Although this is a cost creating process, the sales are not affected: it is a fact that they are overbook from one year to the next, proving that their customers consider that their value for money in Quinta is high!
As ways of dissemination, a website is employed for online purchases, in addition to the fact that people meet and interact at the physical stores of Quinta. Moreover, they participate in numerous fairs and markets- as many as possible.

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Activity’s Personal Background

How did you learn this method/technique/practice?
Quinta da Fornalha holds valuable know-how of the local area, as a result of the long-years of business activity there. Quinta researches on what is originally growing in its region: it studies its properties, the medicinal and nutritional status and evaluates the various ways of utilizing this raw material.

Is there some memory/historical event connected to this method/technique/practice?
Quinta’s business are following a seasonal circle. The farm extends to several arms, one of which is the salt. This was the initial business activity, but Quinta da Fornalha had always been doing farming and beyond, working on projects on dairy products, always with interest in what is endogenous in that area.

Personal reference to Mediterranean traditions (working together, sharing, harvest/fish together etc.)?
Regarding biological production, today it is ultimately becoming nearly a trend. But, at the times that the great-grandfather Palma Dias opted for organic farming, the trend was to use more and more chemicals. Concrete to his values, he insisted on manure and on the method of rotating between the fields available for planting, known as the fallow system. Therefore, they were always responsible enough not to use chemicals; it was almost innate. They knew that the rotating system was capable of letting the land to rest and regain the optimal conditions for cultivating it. What happens generally is that the knowledge passes from generation to generation, but is also reinforced by creativity, so to be updated and integrated in developing new projects.

Mediterranean background
Is this activity connected to the territory you live in? Is it strictly linked to the specificity of the environment?
The main form of Quinta is a variety of services from accommodation, processing and exporting. These business areas fit together and since they are seasonal, they complimentarily determine a annual business plan where the workload is equally distributed all year round. However, since the weather is a key factor that impacts on the productivity of the land, the levels of production face some deviation during the various weather conditions. In such occasions, the other business areas eventually provide with support. That is why they have a diverse portfolio of multiple business activities, a system that was introduced to the company by the great-grand-father. It is indeed an ancient concept that applies perfectly to a fragile area such as the Algarve and it helps to overcome the adversities of agricultural production.