“Others say it is organic, permaculture, and a lot of other complicated words; for us it is just good food grown with common sense.”
Mediterranean vegetables, fruits and legumes grow alongside traditional Flemish ones at the Finca, allowing for a year round production of an enviable list:
Gwen and Bart love tomatoes so much that they grow about 15 varieties. Their favourite way to eat them is simple and colourful: a salad of mixed tomatoes with red onion, salt and pepper and Gwen and Bart’s own delicious olive oil. Or when the summer heat comes, Gwen whizzes them up with cucumbers for gazpacho.
Gwen also dries the Italian varieties in baskets under the sun, chosen as they have fewer seeds and less water. Once dried (which takes only a few hours), they are jarred with secret Finca herbs, laurel and garlic and topped with olive oil. The longer they are left, the more intense the flavour. I can vouch for that.
The Finca has no olive trees, but Gwen and Bart are able to produce their own oil by making deals with local who do have olive trees but no interest in harvesting the fruit. Gwen and Bart pick the same weight in olives for the owner as they do for themselves, then take them to the mill for processing into “liquid gold“. Sometimes they buy the owner’s portion so they have a double batch. This year they have too many for just themselves to consume, and no visitors will be able to savour it either. Fortunately it keeps well, and will outlast the coronavirus.
About 30 lambs have been born this Spring, making a flock of over 50 sheep. Gwen and Bart say that taking care of them is reasonably easy as they graze freely on the land. Towards Autumn, if the rains arrive late and food is scarce on the Finca, Bart will lead the lambs to the lakeside every day for a couple of hours.
Lambing season requires more hands-on work – at all hours of the day and night – but it is drawing to an end now. The lambs are raised for slaughter, but this year with restaurants closed, there is little demand for the meat and prices are low (happy for the lambs who may graze at their leisure – as Gwen and Bart say: “we treat them too well.“).
I mustn’t forget the chickens.
Or the scorpions – Gwen and Bart couldn’t tame everything.
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