“I started many years ago. At the time, I was working on the American detachment and, for about 15 years, I was involved in conventional agriculture. 30 years ago, I switched to organic production.”
Rua das Fontinhas 57
9760-211 Praia da Vitória
Ilha da Terceira, Açores
How to get there
+351 964 122 264
Texto de Patrícia Serrado
Fotografias de Clementine Things
Ecological agriculture is at the base of Avelino Ormonde's daily work. Founder of BioFontinhas, he brings together a hundred different cultivars in his land, located in Fontinhas, Praia da Vitória, Terceira Island. The mode of production is related to biodynamics, permaculture, and energy units, in favour of the health of the earth, plants and human beings.
“I started many years ago. At the time, I was working on the American detachment and, for about 15 years, I was involved in conventional agriculture. 30 years ago, I switched to organic production.” The explanation is given by Avelino Ormonde, aged 60, a pioneer in the implementation of this agricultural aspect in the Azores and a true visionary.
This turning point was Eliot Coleman, a central figure of organic farming, with whom Avelino Ormonde came across during his studies and research on this subject. The edaphoclimatic conditions also helped in the decision to implement agriculture in organic production mode. "When a climate gives us continuity in production, it brings its sparkles with it." However, “we have to count on the winds, a lot of rain, lack of light, in winter”, not least because only from March onwards, with the arrival of the most beautiful poetics of the year, do the plants begin to grow. “Spring is the happiest time for farmers. In summer, the trouble comes, with the excess heat.”
In addition to dispensing pesticides and any additives or synthetic products, agricultural work is carried out without the use of tractors. “It's all manual”, guarantees Avelino Ormonde. On the land, with two thousand square meters, with a part occupied by agroforestry, the activity linked to the land is carried out to contribute to the preservation of the environment and “without interfering with the growth rate of the plants”, he adds. “We only use forks to aerate the soil.
The production is around a hundred cultivars – different species within the same species – of plants, roots, aromatic herbs, and edible flowers. The purpose is to produce microgreens; chlorophyll-free corn, beans, and peas for chefs; various salads, consisting of 20 to 25 cultivars; green smoothies – “we've been making them for 15 years”; sauté vegetables, ready to eat at home. “I test each one for two to three years. If it has the characteristics I want, I give it to the chefs to try it.” In addition to this huge trade, Avelino Ormonde bets on seed production: “I want to be self-sufficient in seeds, to return to the cycle of sustainability.”
“I have cultivars from the four corners of the world! I want to have a space where a chef comes here and has everything at hand.”
BioFontinhas products are not exported. “The aim is to keep them here, for the restaurants on the Island.” The hotels on Terceira Island are also customers of Avelino Ormonde, who also have packaged vegetables for the end customer to make soup at home. "Everything produced here is sold."
Avelino Ormonde's tasks do not stop there. The conferences, lectures, seminars, and workshops are on its agenda, among which it highlights the training given to farmers on the other islands of the Azores Archipelago, such as the Bio Kairós project, on the island of São Miguel. "So, they produce there, so that everyone can have their product."
After all, for Avelino Ormonde “it is necessary to think globally and consume locally”.