The raspberry for dessert: In El Bolsón there is a place where fine fruits, cereals, yogurts, cheeses, ice creams and even new wheats are produced, all with organic certification

09 Dec 2021

At the beginning of the 1980s, Paul Adrion arrived in Argentina from the south of Germany, very close to the famous “black forest”, where he produced raspberries on a plot of half a hectare.

Already in 1984 he laid the foundations for Chacra Humus, an establishment that began with 3 hectares and today has 36, of which 7 are dedicated to fine fruit in El Bolsón, province of Rio Negro. In 1995 it obtained organic certification.

“I feel that even today there is no recognition of certified organic; in fact, in the local market we do not have a differentiating price, something that is recognized in the international market”, explains Wenceslao, Paul’s son and an agricultural engineer. “Despite this difference, today we do not export because local demand is high and growing and, on the other hand, exporting today is increasingly cumbersome.”

Humus sells all of its production of fine fruit in the area, especially in Bariloche, where the consumption of fresh seasonal fruit is very interesting and the frozen format allows marketing throughout the year.

Although they produce blackberries, cassis, corinth, currants, morello cherries, elderberries and strawberries, most of the farm’s fine fruit production is dedicated to raspberries because they grow very well in the area. Due to both climatic and agronomic conditions, yields of between 12 and 15 tons per hectare are obtained (something that does not happen with cherries, which have better productions further south).

At this point, the question that arises is why, if the raspberry is increasingly positioned, does it not reach Buenos Aires since it is a product that is not seen in greengrocers and rarely in a supermarket.

“The issue is that the collector, who is the same one who buys watermelons and potatoes, does not know how to handle the product, and on top of this, the greengrocers do not want to risk losing anything and since the raspberry is delicate, they prefer to avoid it,” summarizes Wenceslao .

“The market and the demand are there, but we have to adjust the processes to ensure that the product arrives in good condition; this in gastronomy is solved because they are handled with frozen, but whoever wants to eat fresh raspberries in Buenos Aires, for now cannot”. The Andean region, made up of a good number of small producers of less than half a hectare, and medium producers of 2 to 3 hectares, produces 250 tons of raspberries per year.

But Humus is not limited to fine fruits but is made up of 5 business units. In the same property there are cows, for the production of yogurt, dulce de leche, ice cream and cheese; there is a nursery for fine fruit seedlings; there are cereals; and there is an agritourism circuit (with an ice cream parlor included) that culminates in a sales room for their products.

As for the animals, they own 70 cows (of which there are 50 in milking) mostly of the Holando breed, although some with Jersey crosses to gain milk with higher fat content for dairy production, and a bull (before they did insemination). “Animals are great generators of fertilizer, something that is essential for organic production,” he details.

“We manage plots with electricity and we make our own fodder since the cows are locked up for 4 and a half months because of the cold and they have to be fed.” (In total, with the leased land, the property totals 110 hectares).

Wenceslao emphasizes that in the plot rotation system the key is to do it as systematically as possible and for that you have to always be “on top of the field” and think about the best way to do things. “The farthest squares and those that are more uncomfortable for the harvest of fine fruit are left directly for pasture. We do sowing with grasses and legumes (such as clover with ryegrass) because our springs are cold and if we have to wait for the alfalfa to make a cut we lose many days, while grasses are faster and we already have a first use both in spring as in autumn and we achieve more grazing supply”, he explains.

“Once the pasture is exhausted and the plot is no longer yielding, we go to a rotation with a cereal, which has a quick reaction and thus we do not leave the soil uncovered in winter, at the same time it helps us to control weeds, something that stops us, as an organic farm, is fundamental”.

“In terms of berries, the cycle is longer: we make a rotation of about 10/12 years of that use and only after that time do we add a cereal, which can be oats, rye or barley, or also some spelled wheat; it will take another 10 years to have berries on that plot again.”

Spelled wheat in recent years has become a highly sought-after gourmet product (another “difficult” one in Buenos Aires), so part of the production they have is sold locally to a bakery that makes all its products with sourdough and Also, the tourist who is going to visit the farm can buy the spelled flour in the sales room. But, due to the great nutritional value of this variety of wheat, most of it is destined to fodder for silo in a process where it is cut before gleaning and the rolls of hay remain in nylon to produce an anaerobic fermentation where lactic fermentation predominates.

“This makes the forage more nutritious and palatable and, above all, it gives us food with a good contribution in the cold season,” says Wenceslao. “It’s the closest thing to having a pasture in winter.” The grain yield is 6 tons per hectare and they have 10 planted.

The plot rotation system has given such good results that his neighbor, also a producer of fine fruits, joined this idea and Wenceslao has been advising him for some time: “With my neighbor we don’t even have a dividing fence, so when He became interested in the rotary system and we started right away and he is already seeing the results of the rotation and the rested floors… and incidentally my cows go to his farm and eat there too”, he laughs.

“It is essential to work in harmony, be aware of what is happening to the neighbor, share experiences and see how everyone can improve,” he concludes.

Source: Bichos de Campo