Naturcharc is owned and run by the brothers Manuel, José and Javier Giménez Segura. On their organic family farm 50km north of Almería, Spain, they grow all sorts of tasty essentials to help us keep our boxes full: sweet bell peppers, Padron peppers, crunchy cucumbers, courgettes, and more.
The Giménez Segura family have been farming for over four generations – but Manuel, José and Javier were the first to make two major innovations. Firstly, they became certified organic. Secondly, they set up their own brand, Naturcharc, to sell the farm’s produce directly to like-minded businesses like Riverford, ensuring their independence and liberating them to secure fair prices for their outstanding veg.
The brothers first started converting the family farm to organic in 2001. “We had been considering how farming organically is beneficial for health and the environment, providing a service to society,” they say. “At the same time, we realised that cultivation could be carried out without using pesticides that harm the environment, since we began to observe natural enemies which were fighting pest insects.”
Manuel, José and Javier – helped by a small, dynamic team, and Coco the dog – have stayed true to organic ever since, and gone even further in their quest to be green. Under certain circumstances, a small number of pesticides are permitted in organic farming; all derived from natural ingredients such as garlic and clove oil, but pesticides nonetheless. The Naturcharc team choose to use no pesticides at all, instead committing to using natural methods, even when this requires laborious hand work.
Optimising the irrigation techniques in their fields and planting seeds in careful sequences has allowed the farm to use approximately 18-20% less water… GRASP (Global Risk Assessment on Social Practice) certifies their staff welfare… All their plastic waste is recycled, never sent to landfill… All in all, Naturcharc is a tight ship, and an ethical operation to be proud of!
One particularly impressive element is their on-site organic composting plant, the result of three years of research and training. All the farm’s organic waste (such as plant remains after a crop is harvested) is processed and returned to the soil. Rich, healthy, well-structured soil is much better at holding water; since introducing their own compost, Naturcharc are now using an average of 10% less water to irrigate their fields every year.
Although they are at the cutting edge when it comes to making their farm more sustainable, the Giménez Segura brothers have not forgotten the traditions handed down through the family’s long history on the farm.
“From the beginning we understood the strong links that bind us to this land,” they say. The farm’s 80 hectares is divided equally between outdoor fields and the unheated glasshouses traditional in the area, the crops still tended much as they have been for generations (long before the use of potent synthetic chemicals became commonplace).
“The way we grow has been passed from father to son, and although we’ve made improvements, the spirit remains the same.”