Some mates with … El Pampa Orgánico
31 Jan 2020
We chat with Ana María Álvarez, partner of the company ‘El Pampa Orgánico’, producers of Nuez Pecán.
-What is the history of the company?
In 1996 we bought 56 ha. in Baradero, province of Buenos Aires. It was a field with sunflower and a hill in which there were elusive lizards and a bell owl looked at us from the top of a tree … it had no electricity, no fences, no water … but we loved it. We went from Buenos Aires every weekend.
A teacher friend had told us about pecan and we found it a very appropriate activity for the management and the time we could devote. We went to the Inta Delta and bought our first 30 walnuts. It was like this that every year we planted in winter and watered and weed in summer. We were learning by trial and error since neither of us had knowledge or experience in the field of agriculture.
We continue planting walnuts until we currently have 1,600 trees, of which we will have about 800 in production.
-Why did you decide on organic production?
We have 5 children who educate in Waldorf pedagogy and there they taught them to respect all living beings. We knew that whatever we did was going to be organic. Then we went to OIA, met Pedro Landa and decided to certify.
We needed to earn income to put a mill and wire. The organic certification allowed us to lease it to make cereals while growing our pecan trees.
In 2008 we did some modules of Biodynamic Agriculture. We were interested in this way of driving and we asked Diego Vergelín to be our BD advisor. In 2012 we obtained the Demeter certification, which is possible having previously approved the organic certification of each year.
In 2010 we started to have some production to market and we decided that we wanted to sell it husked. That is how we made the Process Plant, we enabled and certified it with OIA and Démeter. We design a brand and start marketing in the domestic market.
-What is the importance of certification?
For us the certification is very important because it helped us to organize ourselves in the whole process: from harvest, shelling, packaging, distribution and sale and allows us to improve every year.
– How do you produce your products?
During the spring and summer pollination occurs where the fruit is formed. At this stage the plantation must be maintained with good irrigation (we have micro-sprinkler irrigation that works with photovoltaic energy) and with the application of BD preparations that help the health and formation of the fruit. Then for the autumn-winter the harvest is prepared, which is done largely mechanically. This is between the months May, June and July. There the nut enters the shed where it is cleaned, dried, sized and reserved for shelling at the process plant as sales begin.
-What is the pecan nut? What is its nutritional component?
The pecan nut is the seed of the American Walnut that has natural antioxidants and its daily intake helps the health of the nervous system and the heart as it helps lower cholesterol.
It is increasingly appreciated in gastronomy as the orientation of consumers goes towards healthy eating and the demand for organic products grows steadily and exponentially.
– What products do you produce?
Our product is pecan nut shelled and packaged in different grammages.
-What is the Shelling and Packaging Plant?
After drying and sizing the nut passes to the shelling zone: this consists of a cracking machine and a shelling machine, where the peel is separated from the nugget. There it falls on an inspection table and a final selection is made which is manual.
Then it is also packaged and labeled manually in the different sizes according to the order of our customers.
-What characteristics does it have?
We have machinery with specific engineering for pecan nuts. The operation of the entire process plant is based on clean energy since we have photovoltaic panels that generate what is necessary for both production and the process.
-What are the certifications that the factory has? How important are they?
It has the same certifications as the production: organic / biodynamic (OIA and Demeter) and Gluten Free- Sin T.A.C.C.
Our consumers, who are mostly from C.AB.A., Buenos Aires and the interior, are sure that they get a product that has a traceability and quality assurance. Together with the final product, the certification adds an added value that positions us in the market with an increasing tendency towards healthy eating.
-How can you get the products?
On our page (http://elpampaorganico.com.ar/) and in the Organic Guide you can find outlets and distributors.
-What are the company’s next plans?
2020 brings us a new challenge and it is the production of walnut oil, also with the same certifications. We are already working with great enthusiasm since it is an exquisite and promising product both in the culinary field and in that of cosmetics.