The third part of our trip was the most exciting. Early morning we were divided in small groups and got to meet other travellers, in our case fine colleagues from Sweden, Germany and Brazil trying to get a view on possible export products for their companies.
This trip outside gave us a view on the Chilean spirit. We visited Garden of the Andes in the morning. They are a pretty big exporter of herbal teas and olive oil. We could get a scent of the tea during the presentation day, but now we were able to taste the tea close to where it is made. Again, all full and rich peppermint, rosehip and lavender infusions that are nothing like what we're used to.
With this view on the terrace and hills beyond, perfect timing.
Mr. Luis then took us to the olive tree plantations. The workers started the first harvest of mainly Arbequina olives (Spanish roots). The harvesting starts when the olives start to colour light purple end of April and May. They are literally shaken off from the small trees. We see small plants growing around the roots of the olive trees and Luis brings out that especially cow manure is used as fertilizer now. The Chilean government also supports natural fertilizers and natural pest control. For years the olive plantations have been free from pest or other damage. The organic olive market in Chile is growing and export is encouraged.
This first trip in a small group was the perfect introduction into Chilean products, entrepreneurship and gave us a first insight in their approach to organic farming and biodiversity. In fact, our questions to Mr. Luis on plant protection seemed to be easily answered. It's a normal approach, no?
We met the founders of the Cambiaso organic apple orchards in a valley nearby. This visit made me wonder how the Chilean apples find their way into the apple overwhelmed European market. Especially when we taste the same varieties as we see in Europe (Gala, Pink Lady, Braeburn,...) nevertheless we see dedicated people concerned with immigrants from other parts of Central and South-America finding their luck in this more prosperous country (see part 1 in this as well).
Finally, further on the road back to Santiago we had the luck to visit the renowned Emiliana vineyards. A beautiful estate near the central road emerges from the dusty plains. We drive for one mile in between beautiful flowers and people 'reading' the endless vine rows. We are introduced to Pablo, a young passionate guide to the estate. This man will capture our Adya heart completely in an hour touring in between the vines. He combines stories about Chile, the local grapes and the smallest details in the Emiliana approach in biodiversity. We learn about the plants that accompany the vines and keep balance in soil quality and water supply. We learn about other plants attracting butterflies, bumblebees and ladybugs who in return keep control over unwanted vine leaves eating insects. We also meet the alpaca's, chickens and ducks who also have a say in the organic manure distribution!
This is what we were looking for. How do plants, animals and insects keep each other in balance and how to grow and produce in large quantities without disturbing that balance. Respect for the soil, natural life and environment seems almost evident here in Emiliana.
But just before concluding the visit with a taste of their wine, Pablo took us to a part of the estate where all employees can grow their own vegetables and fruits. It completes the sustainable and human image of Emiliana. It is exemplary!
This was our introduction to Chile. We will be back, and most importantly, we are looking forward to work with Chilean farmers and producers in the future, no doubt about that.