Bio Kairós started in 2017, with 1.2 hectares, at Quinta de São Gonçalo, in Ponta Delgada. Today, it has over 7.8 hectares of land in the municipality of Lagoa. The objective? Foster social inclusion and give the inhabitants of the São Miguel Island what the land can biologically give.
Rua José Bernardo Cabral 10
Fajã de Baixo
9500-450 Ponta Delgada, Açores
How to get there
Tiago Emanuel Santos, O Baco
Texto de Patrícia Serrado
Fotografias de Vânia Rodrigues
Quinta de São Gonçalo, where the São Miguel Agrarian Development Services of the Government of the Azores are, is the epicentre of Bio Kairós, “a micro-enterprise inserted in the biological production mode”. The explanation is given by Raquel Vargas, Executive Director of this micro-enterprise created in 2017 and part of the Kairós cooperative, its “mother house”. In September 2020, they gained another 7.8 hectares of land, this time in the municipality of Lagoa, given social needs, but also the growing demand for organic food.
“Bio Kairós combines the economic, social and inclusion components”, that is, “it integrates people who, at some point in their life, things didn’t go so well”. In this way, they are allowed to express their skills or acquire skills of organic agricultural production. "All the products sold are to pay expenses and pay salaries to employees", to foster their financial autonomy and, consequently, "improve their quality of life", says Raquel Vargas, who has, as a right-hand man, Sofia Medeiros, Senior Technician responsible for production.
The production encompasses a diversity of vegetables – sweet potatoes, English potatoes, among others – fruit trees and exotic fruit – guava, strawberry-guava, avocado, for example –, in addition to more than two dozen varieties of aromatic herbs and edible flowers. Tests start at Quinta de São Gonçalo, a kind of testing incubator, where production is tested. Based on the results obtained, the raw material is produced on the property, in the municipality of Lagoa, to increase production and simultaneously contribute to diversity. “We started slowly. Now we are in the expansion phase”, adds Raquel Vargas. For this purpose, the objective is to implement four tri-tunnels – “three tunnels, which, together, form a tri-tunnel, each being 18 meters wide and 22 meters long”, explains – and a reservoir of rainwater.
Parallel to the social inclusion that Bio Kairós is committed to, the focus on organic production adds value to foods, whether in terms of flavour or durability. Furthermore, “it is to give people what our land can give us”, says our interviewee, praising the potential of the climate and soils of the Azores Archipelago.
Every week, a list of seasonal products is drawn up and sent to customers. The selection makes it possible to create personalized baskets accompanied by a surprise basket. “If there's something you don't like in this basket, we'll also replace it. The hampers are left on a cart that we have in our space” – at Quinta da São Gonçalo – “for people to come and get them”. Payment made by bank transfer.
“Before the pandemic, people went to the vegetable garden to choose their products right away. Even the children's parents, who have activities here, took the opportunity to come to the vegetable garden. Now, that doesn't happen that much anymore”, says Raquel Vargas. However, for those who don’t know the space or the project, the doors are open for a guided tour.
The feedback given by the community is quite positive. “We have had excellent feedback from the community and from the chefs, who have supported us at Bio Kairós”. Thanks are extended to Avelino Ormonde, from BioFontinhas, and to Mónica Oliveira, President of Cooperativa Bio Azórica, both on Terceira Island. “These people are always with us!”
For December 2021, a small store is expected to open in the city of Ponta Delgada, where Bio Kairós' biological products will be sold, as well as organic vegetables, fruit and herbs from other producers on the São Miguel Island.