Here on the white isle, the dedicated team of eco-warriors behind the Ibiza Preservation Foundation support cutting-edge projects and vital research across some of the most pressing issues of our times – think environmental preservation and protection, water and energy use and the promotion of sustainable practices. The latest project they’ve thrown their weight behind is Ibiza Produce, a platform created to encourage the continued cultivation of the land and provide access to, and support for, local farmers and producers. The driving force behind Ibiza Produce is Gabrielle Gambina, whose background in tourism and finance coupled with experience as a chef and passion for good food has prepared her well for the role.
The impetus for Ibiza Produce resulted from a yearlong study of the local market, consumer habits and interviews with farmers. “It became obvious that people in Ibiza want to buy local produce and products and give back to the island but that the issue was in distribution, labelling and awareness,” says Gabrielle. “There are various challenges associated with this, so we started out by going back to basics, which is information and knowledge,” explains Gabrielle. “In the first instance, we want to put the farmers and producers out there.” It makes sense – local farmers are the unsung heroes of the community and have long been the heart and soul of the island. Ibiza Produce aims to bring their essential work into the limelight.
Year one for Ibiza Produce will focus on information, communication and community. The first major project for the organisation was the website – a portal providing much-needed education on local produce, farmers and products. Published in English and Spanish, the website is a constantly updated resource which puts all the best local produce and products at your fingertips, quite literally. Using the easy-to-navigate sections, islanders can easily access information about direct sales farms, fresh veggie box delivery and a list of markets across the island where locally grown fresh food and island-made products can be purchased. You can even find information on booking a farm visit – a great activity for young and old, locals and visitors or just the curious at heart!
Ibiza’s fertile soil provides a cornucopia of goodness and the Ibiza Produce website also lists information on where to stock up on traditional crops such as almonds, xeixa (an ancient low-gluten grain native to the island), fruits, vegetables and much more. Focus is also given to non-traditional products that are made here in Ibiza, with everything from beer and gin to jams, honey and natural cosmetics being showcased online. Over 50 farmers and producers are featured on the site, with more added every day and there are now plans to provide recipes too, completing the circle from farm to shopping bag to home.
“Collaboration is key,” says Gabrielle. “We want to bring people together over our shared agenda which is think global, eat local.” As Ibiza Produce grows across sectors, more focus will be given to events that support and celebrate Ibiza’s food culture. “The island’s farmers are very keen to engage directly with consumers,” Gabrielle says. “We have personal meetings, workshops, pop-up dinners and special events for adults and children.” One local chef, an early supporter of Ibiza Produce, has already incorporated the ethos into his work by hosting regular farmer’s dinners, where the farmers introduces themselves before guests indulge in a meal made with their produce. It’s personal touches like these that allow locals to feel a connection with not only the island they love, but also those people who work towards sustaining its future.
Farming is not an easy profession but it’s essential to the livelihood of the island and the health of the land. “If the land is left uncultivated in Ibiza, the pine trees take over, causing many environmental issues,” says Gabrielle. “Our objective is to revive and protect Ibiza’s farmland.” To do this, education is critical and Ibiza Produce works with local schools to create vegetable gardens and curriculum while also helping to boost student numbers at the agricultural college and commencing discussions with local authorities on how to provide school canteens with local produce. Infiltrating the school system in this way means today’s island kids grow up with much more awareness than previous generations – something that is essential to the preservation of Ibiza, and planet Earth in general.
There are plans for Ibiza Produce to expand into bricks and mortar support for local producers. “We are researching the possibility of creating a shared kitchen facility where caterers, producers and distribution companies can rent space by the hour, week, month or year,” explains Gabrielle. “They’ll get access to the facilities they need to expand without the financial burden.” The goal is to make it easier for producers to do what they do best, while providing the infrastructure for production, distribution and marketing to reach customers who are eager to enjoy home-grown products. Online shopping is a future goal with support already provided to the creation of a hive where online purchases of local products can be paid for in advance and collected from a pick-up point. Stay tuned for developments.
Collaboration reaches across the Balearics too with connections made in Menorca, Mallorca and Formentera to promote hampers filled with local products. Keep an eye out for dedicated stands filled with locally produced goodies in some of your favourite stores in the coming weeks and months. While purposefully created hampers are on the cards for the future, Gabrielle suggests this Christmas is the perfect opportunity for Ibiza residents to support the island’s producers by creating unique Ibiza-themed Christmas gifts and hampers for your friends, families and loved ones, using the handy website guide to locate all the products and produce you want to include. And while you’re at it – why not source all the festive foods you need to create your Christmas feast here on island soil? ‘Tis the season to be giving after all – why not give back to the island at the same time?