Solidarity and organic farmingThe perfect pairing sponsored by Cooperativa para a Educação e Reabilitação de Cidadãos Inadaptados de Cascais (Cooperative for the Education and Rehabilitation of Maladjusted Citizens of Cascais - CERCICA).
The institution was founded in 1976 and trains people with disabilities and incapacitating conditions or those who are at risk of social exclusion.
The first harvest took place in 2016 and annual yield can reach up to 300 kg.
The need to find alternative ways to ensure its financial sustainability led to the creation of a Social Farming project. The initiative began in 2012 on a barren and very degraded plot of land which, at the time, was only used as a dumping ground.
A plantation with high-quality crops was eventually implemented on the 5-hectare plot, where several tea leafs and aromatic plants are grown. Stevia, Lemon Grass, Bela-luz thyme and Lemon Verbena, are the top performers on this now revitalized piece of land.
Success comes from dedication
This investment in organic farming has created 80 jobs, most of which are part-time. The group is in charge of performing all tasks, from soil preparation to placing stakes, planting seeds, harvesting and packing the plants. Only the drying stage is done using machinery. The team uses an artisanal solar dryer, designed by CERCICA and made from a shipping container.
Where can these products be found?
Following drying, the aromatic herbs are usually sold in bulk to the catering sector or exported.
However, some are wrapped in cellophane or packed in CERCICA’s private brand tins. One of the points of sale is the institution’s own store.
But it isn’t the only one. Under the Social Corner initiative, you can visit the Pingo Doce store in São João do Estoril, near the institution’s headquarters and fields, and purchase these products. All sales went to CERCICA.