"From the garden to the house", the auto-harvest of fruit blooms in the south of Chile

"From the garden to the house", the auto-harvest of fruit blooms in the south of Chile

Fresh fruits at the foot of the garden, harvested by oneself and with the guarantee of a sustainable agriculture is the offer that proposes an "interactive" garden that in the south of Chile has generated a new current of consumption that makes the customer participate from the land to the table.

"They are very fresh, you can see them, take them yourself and try them," said a couple in the middle of a field of strawberries while carrying wicker baskets, loaded with the reddest fruits they found and that they will later take home.

On a morning strangely clear of cloud and without the usual rain that waters the southern region of Los Lagos in Chile, customers arrive by drip to the garden of Lucy Albizu, who manages the place, which she said was visited by "more than 138 families "the previous weekend.

An area reached by an unpaved road in the municipality of Río Negro and, despite the indications provided on social networks, visitors who arrived, explain that they called "Lucy" to give them some indications.

The area in which the orchard is located, 90 kilometers from Puerto Montt, the capital of the region, invites the total disconnection due to its environment and the bad connection to the mobile network.

"People want to know where the things we are consuming are coming from, so we decided to open the way for the client to come and see how it is done," Albizu told Efe, who together with her husband Moisés Arimendi created this initiative eight years ago. .

Those interested in harvesting their own vegetables or fruits can approach this secluded place every day, in the morning or afternoon.

The busiest days, according to the marriage, are the weekends, when a greater number of families come from the cities of Puerto Varas (70 kilometers) and Puerto Montt, with the youngest, "those who believe that vegetables They are born from the supermarket shelves, "said Albizu.

The entrance to the garden is free, who arrive can park their car outside, take one or several wicker baskets and walk through the greenhouses, which have tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or go out into the open to harvest their own strawberries, the star product of the garden.

After selecting the food, they weigh it and the visitors take it at a price that is much lower than what can be seen in the supermarkets of Santiago.

This marriage, which grew up in the region and later settled in the city, decided to return to its origins for their children, now 16 and 8 years old.

"We wanted to give healthy food to our children," said Albizu, who acknowledged that the idea of ​​creating an orchard was born to harvest their own vegetables in a "natural and agrochemical-free" way.

Later, they started selling their products on the road until Arimendi, with training as an agricultural technician, proposed to his wife to invite other people to harvest, inspired "in some European countries", which had established this system.

Albizu confessed that her first impression was to think that everyone would arrive at the field to take the fruit without paying, but later she saw the potential of her husband's proposal.

The two things that attract people to this place, is "take the fruit directly from the bush", according to the creator of this project, but also escape from the traffic.

"The people who come to the garden are from the city, people who are in an office, who are stressed and want to connect with nature," said Arimendi.

"In addition there are many who come for therapy, recommended by doctors, to do things in the field and disconnect from their work and stress," he added.

This couple, who started their project buying three hectares, now rented seven more and employs eight families in the area.

At this moment, the orchard sends 40% of the production to the houses and 60% is collected by the visitors.

And it is one of the 1,200 peasant families that, according to the Institute of Agricultural Development (INDAP), offer this type of experience throughout Chile.

In the region of Los Lagos in the south of the country is an area dedicated especially to dairy farming and meat, but Albizu recognizes that the progressive change of climate is favoring the cultivation of fruit trees.

"With climate change, the increase in rainfall in the region is very favorable for our harvest," said Albizu.


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