Ximena Poblano and Lucía Gutiérrez are partners of the land. For more than 10 years they have been harvesting organic vegetables in different areas of Yucatán. Their main huerto is in the municipality of Hoctún, 40 minutes from the capital.
Upon arrival, we are greeted by a hectare of cultivation beds.
“Just last week we finished collecting herbs like lettuces and arugula,” says Ximena. “Some of these beds will rest for a couple of months until we can use them again. But in the meantime, we’ve got plenty to go around.”
The Horso Organics orchard produces all sorts of greens without pesticides or chemicals. As their philosophy respects planting cycles, their soil is allowed to recover its nurturing properties to be used in several crops a year.
Organic food production is a somewhat newer trend in agricultural ventures, as it promotes a friendlier environmental process, and is overall said to be healthier for consumers.
Ximena comments that, although the acceptance and popularity of this type of production has increased, it still presents many challenges that not everyone is willing to face.
“We are much more exposed to the natural elements,” says Ximena. “This year we struggled quite a bit with the rains, which at times drowned many of our crops. The pandemic has been a second challenge because it limits our staff. And because of the way we grow, we need to plant and harvest by hand. But it’s a learning exercise, we have to figure out how to work with our conditions. The most natural way to grow.”
In Yucatán Magazine: Jardín Baldío: Yucatán is growing wonderful food. Here’s where to enjoy it
Lucia, Ximena’s mother, comments that the recent “cold” weather on the Peninsula makes for a good harvest season. In the orchard, the harvesting of cucumber and squash is close to finished.
In another area of the huerto — the Chinese cabbage section — the napa cabbage and Bok choi are a few days away from being ready.
“We just have to wait for the cabbage to close,” says Lucía. “These are huge species, very popular for dishes like kimchi. Now it is more common to find these products with local producers, but we were pioneers introducing them to the Yucatecan market. Chinese cabbages are some of our star products.”
The family’s second garden, in Teya, produces other ingredients such as herbs and cherry tomatoes. These products, destined for restaurants and end consumers, are also used in Ximena’s sister venture, Jardín Baldío.
In their different business ventures, the Poblano Gutiérrez family conveys the value of respectful harvesting, which considers the needs of their consumers, but also of their producers.
“Now we are focused on strengthening our individual sales precisely because we want people to learn to enjoy the wide variety of foods that are harvested on the peninsula,” says Ximena. “The Yucatecan soil is hard, but when treated with attention and care, it allows us to enjoy all the wonders of the land.”
In Yucatán Magazine: More of Mérida’s obscurities: 5 food finds and handicraft discoveries