Nicolás French Videla
Nicolás is head gardener for Cas Costas, a grill and organic market.
What is a typical day like for you at Cas Costas? What time do you start, and what are your primary duties?
As soon as I arrive, I go to the kitchen and collect organic waste. I start the day by producing our homemade compost. Then I check to see what fruits and vegetables are missing in the kitchen and stock up on them. I go on to take a general survey of the farm to see what each crop needs. I finish the day applying fertilizer to make build up defenses for the various crops, and then I check the irrigation system.
Do you have other people working with you?
I run the farm by myself together with some 5,000 worms. Oh! And Wilson, the scarecrow.
Do you talk to the kitchen to see what dishes they’re planning to make?
Having contact with the kitchen is critical. It’s teamwork. If I have an overabundance of a particular crop, the Executive Chef knows to include it in the menu. Most of all, composting begins in the kitchen with an adequate selection of organic waste.
Do you have a favourite dish?
The garden salad. This dish contains the freshest produce of the day. The lettuce in these salads is never put in cold storage; it goes directly from the ground to your plate.
What are some of the problem the vegetable garden faces?
In Ibiza, the main problem is the high rate of humidity, which promotes the growth of fungi. To counter this, we make a compost tea, which reduces the growth of fungi by about fifty percent and is totally natural.
What do you enjoy the most and what chore would you prefer not to do?
What I enjoy the most is being in permanent contact with the plants without any routine because the crops have different needs each day. The hardest part is digging up the soil, because I do everything manually, without any machinery.
It must be hard to keep this job exciting from one season to the next. What is your favorite summertime crop?
Nature rules over every season! In the summertime, crops grow much faster. Tomato plants are my passion during warmer months because I really have to stay on top of them. On the other hand, the challenge in winter is providing added nutrition for all the plants.
What basic equipment do you use and why?
The sort of tool kit our grandparents used to use! I work with basic tools: a rake, shovels, a cart, a hoe, a sickle, and a vat fitted with an oxygenator, which is where I make the compost tea.
Is there anything you’ve tried to grow that you couldn’t get to work?
Yes! In organic farming, you learn from mistakes. Arugula and cilantro are two plants I can think of. Because of the sun, I had to be very careful to gauge their bitterness until I finally managed to get the right flavor.
Can you give us three pieces of advice for successful organic farming?
My main advice is: be a plant and think like a plant. Success is in the roots; the key is in the nutrients the plant receives. And last but not least, produce homemade compost to obtain healthy crops.
Tell us some vegetables or herbs you’ll always grow.
My must-grow plants are tomato, cucumber, pumpkin, and mint.
How do you like to end the day?
Taking a shower! I end up with dirt all over me. After that, I make myself a nice coffee.
Cas Costas is certified as an Ecological Farm by the European Union.
C / Migjorn Gran, 13, Ses Salines – Sant Josep. Ibiza.
Telephone: 971 308 755 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org