“And this doesn't take anything, it's just land and water”, guarantees this 43-year-old farmer with an easy smile, a fan of passion fruit and this variety in particular: regional purple passion fruit.
Canhas, Ponta do Sol
Ilha da Madeira.
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The greenhouse where Arlindo Pontes protects his passion fruit from the wind and rain provides an excellent hiding place, given the density of the plants that grow there and bear fruit. “And this doesn't take anything, it's just land and water”, guarantees this 43-year-old farmer with an easy smile, a fan of passion fruit and this variety in particular: regional purple passion fruit. "It’s addicting. Even the bees come here alone to pollinate”, he describes, as he holds some specimens left over from the previous campaign.
They are the only ones we see there on the day of our visit, as this passion fruit is only caught in June. And from the ground. “The best ones are the ones that fall, there's no doubt about that”, assures Arlindo, before explaining the harvesting method: “A person passes in front, shaking the plants and the others follow behind, picking them up from the ground.” If they don't fall, it's because they're not ripe.
Arlindo hasn't been in this for a long time. “I came out of nowhere, I started by myself, I learned”, he says. He took advantage of an already existing greenhouse, to safeguard himself from the instability of the weather, despite being in one of the sunniest areas of Madeira. “But this changes, the climate is very complicated. It's hot here now, but if you go to Santana [north of the island] it might be raining.”
And the passion fruit, guarantees the farmer, requires care and attention. “It's a very sensitive crop: if you catch a fungus in the ground, you can't plant it for several years.” Arlindo does not, therefore, put all the eggs in the same bag. Passion fruit may be his most recent passion, but he doesn't forget the other products he also sells in the São Martinho Market, where many of those who have stalls in Funchal's famous Lavradores Market are supplied.
“I try to plant a little piece of everything: potato, sweet potato, courgette, green beans, I also have a lot of thyme.” And always, he assures, with respect for the land: "If it works, perfect. if it works less, patience."