Workshop over harvesting and post-harvesting processes


On Thursday, the 9th of June, we met with some of the producers of Sembrando confianza’s network, mainly members of the ARAC (Association Agroecological Peasant Network) of Subachoque, in order to work on the following topics: conservation and quality of the products.

The general idea was to optimize harvest, washing, packaging and transportation processes, with the aim of improving the product’s quality once they arrive at the client’s home. Indeed, a fruit or vegetable, between the time it is harvested and the time it arrives at the consumer’s residence, is likely to suffer numerous damages or inappropriate handling: harvesting ways that hinder the good product conservation, excessive handling, plants’ dehydration due to a lack of packaging, undue transportation, etc. When the products underwent such bad treatments, we can notice wounds or signs of shock, which cause a loss of raw material, time and money. Adopting simple strategies of proper handling and conservation enables limiting considerably the waste.

In order to support Sembrando Confianza in this session dedicated to the improvement of harvest and post-harvest processes, two experts in this area came voluntarily to give a talk. First, Gertrudis Pardo was able to share her experience in food conservation, considering that she herself manages organic crops in Rosal, which she sells in her shop in Bogota. “I am a bit in all aspects of the process, because I am the one who sows, who cultivates, who sells, to whom it hurts when they don’t pay, and who has got to throw away what remained unsold.”, explains Gertrudis. DSC00203Secondly, we had the pleasure to receive Johan Álvarez, head chef for almost 20 years, who has got his own restaurant in the “Colina Campestre”. He is part of the movements Slow Food and Km. 0, two organisations which promote alternative food consumption: slow, clean and fair. Johan has come in order to present his experience with food, that we should, according to him, ‘treat like the most precious baby’, but also for the purpose of sharing consumer’s demands. “A damaged product, with all the microorganisms which begin to develop and attack the product, when it finally arrives at the restaurant, it is already in bad condition and we can’t use it. It is a cost at different levels for us: I would pay to give it an added value, for instance I would pay slightly more so that a lettuce arrive a bit cleaner and in good condition.”

On the other hand, the producer also has his own obligations, defined by the organisation, the scheduling of his tasks and obviously his farm, and wonders “why [he] can have some use of a slightly damaged product and the client cannot”, as Marybel tells us. The highly lively interventions of Gertrudis and Johan generated interesting questions and debates, for instance: if selling to restaurants was the aim market of the ARAC, or how to limit food waste if consumers’ demands are so high. Another concern was how to maintain fixed price through the whole year. We also came to the conclusion, in the attempt of understanding better consumers’ demands, that it was necessary to integrate the different consumer profiles and implement a clients’ representation system in the aim of fostering dialogue with the producers, sharing practices and improving products’ conservation.

This productive workshop ended in a delicious participative meal, based on one hand on a recipe elaborated by chef Johan: raw lasagne, deconstruction of the famous Italian plate, and on the other hand on a traditional peasant plate, “sancocho”. All of it cooked with freshly harvested food from Subachoque. We all were charmed, children as well as adults!