Paulo and Rogerio

Horticilha

Hi, we are Paulo and Rogerio from Horticilha.  We grow delicious organic cucumbers and tomatoes here in Portugal and would like to thank you for your interest in our products.

Although our farm is located only 20 km from Lisbon, the region here is still very rural.  This is because the impressive Vasco de Gama bridge connecting this beautiful region with Portugal's capital was opened less than 20 years ago.  This is therefore a very special place with lots of agriculture, enchanting cork tree forests, rivers and natural forests. Under the sandy soil there is a huge fresh water reservoir.  To protect this important resource the government has installed strict regulations controlling the use of chemicals and artificial fertilizers.  This means that all the agricultural activities in this region are much more environmentally friendly compared to other parts of the country. 
We also want to do our bit and have therefore dedicated a large chunk of our land to nature.  Apart from wild grass and flowers surrounding the greenhouses we also have a forest with natural pine trees, herb bushes and many other species of local flora.  The vegetation and trees attract a lot of birds and insects but we also see rabbits, hares and even wild boars. Most visitors also immediately notice the many nesting storks in this area.  Whereas before they made their nests on the chimneys of old brick factories, today they have found new homes in the electricity pilons in the region.    

 

Interview

Can you tell us something about your business?
Paulo: We have two large greenhouses where we grow cucumbers, a number of tomato varieties and many different herbs including mint, sage, thyme and rosemary. In 2008 we built a 7 hectare greenhouse and started with organic tomato production.  This was the right time for us not only because of the strong market demand but also because we had everything in place to make it a success.

Was switching to organic difficult ?
Paulo: Certainly! When you start organic production you need to change your mindset.  It is no longer possible to solve a problem quickly by spraying a certain chemical, you have to get a better feel for your plants and the ecosystem and anticipate potential problems.  Basically, you can no longer farm in an "autopilot mode" and although it causes many sleepless nights it is all worth it in the end.  Because we also still grow conventional tomatoes we are applying techniques and knowledge from our organic greenhouse to improve production and work even more sustainably.   

What makes this farm so special?
Paulo: Compared to many other greenhouses in Southern Europe, our greenhouses are made of glass and not plastic. The glass enables us to control the temperatures and humidity so that we can grow the best possible quality.  I am also very proud of our team, they are not only very motivated but also extremely knowledgeable and experienced.  

Do you have a specific Portuguese tomato dish you can recommend ?
Yes certainly !  I am a big lover of Caldeirada.  It is a casserole dish with a layer of sliced onions and garlic, covered with a layer of our delicious tomatoes, a layer of peppers, then a layer of meat or fish and topped with a layer of sliced potatoes.  Sprinkle some Portuguese olive oil, place on the stove and cook until the potatoes are ready. The ingredients are not only cooked but the juices come together to form a symphony of taste. .. Delicious !

 

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Geolocation is 38.6817722, -8.876795899999934

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