Delicious organic produce grown in the UAE
The organic debate. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Are certain foodstuffs more ‘toxic’ than others? I find the whole thing a little intimidating, especially now that I have little mouths to feed and tiny people to grow. I consider myself a conscientious shopper – I refuse to buy fruit and veg that’s been flown across the world if it’s available locally (all those air-miles, artificial air and changes of environment plus the use of ‘ripening’ or ‘preserving’ sprays = yuk) and I’ll look for organic labels wherever possible but it’s always been a bit of a mystery as to how it’s grown in our sandy landscape and whether it really does live up to the hype.
Well, mamas, after a morning at Greenheart Organic Farms, I now have a very good idea of exactly how a genuine organic setup in the UAE works and a very strong conviction that trustworthy organic food is the best thing we can be feeding our families. The creation of amazing mama and passionate organic farmer Elena Kinane, Greenheart is all about producing and supplying truly authentic organic fruit and vegetables using ancient methods that guarantee an honest farm to table result.
There’s more to this type of farming than the abstinence of toxic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers – Greenheart is all about sustainably grown food that pays respect not only to the environment but also to our health. The methods used at the farm have been in practice for centuries – and the results are delicious, nutritious and by far the cleanest way of eating. Amazing.
Our trip around the farm was not only incredibly inspiring but also eye-opening and really delicious! We wandered through strawberry fields edged by celery – a natural deterrent for strawberry loving pests, crunched into the sweetest of peppers straight from the plant, smelled tomatoes on the vine and learned about everything from the love and care that goes into each variety to the very special orders that Greenheart receives from restaurants including Zuma and Le Petit Maison whose standards demand the very best. We were shown how some produce needs to be grown in grow-houses cooled using an incredible water/mist system and we soaked up the vibrant colours of Kale leaves, cabbages and beetroots outdoors. I know that Elena works incredibly hard (she’s often on the farm as early as 6am and judging by her emails she’s not clocking off that early either) but I can’t imagine a more idyllic office!
So – a few Greenheart facts:
- Elena has a genuine desire to grow the best possible organic produce in what is essentially a hostile farming environment – no soil, lack of sweet water and rain, desert storms and high temperatures. A mama of 2 girls, she also takes care of over 120 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs – her other babies.
- Greenheart grow all of their produce from heirloom seeds. In simple terms, these are the closest possible version of ancient seeds, complete with all of their very special traits (more nutritious, naturally resistant to local pests and weather conditions – the absolute bees knees of fresh produce.) And speaking of bees knees, they’re also open-pollinated (by insects or wind) and without human intervention.
- Greenheart have a gorgeous little farm shop near to Arabian Ranches – and they also deliver produce to homes and businesses in Dubai. A quick click on your chosen veg box or organic foods of choice and your delivery is registered and booked in for a specific date. Simple. Or so it seems. Behind the scenes, the team are super busy, planning all of their harvesting according to orders because nothing is ever stored. The produce is harvested freshly each morning according to what we’re ordering for that day and by a strict rota (the hardier capsicums and tomatoes are first and the more sensitive baby spinach and lettuce are picked literally minutes before the van leaves the farm) Because once produce is harvested it starts to lose nutrients – and that’s just not what Greenheart is about.
I felt privileged to spend time at Greenheart – this little desert oasis is like a huge breath of fresh air and shows sustainable farming at its very best. There are happy goats, cows and chickens (whose eggs are available to buy) snacking on organic leaves – making manure to mix with the raw food compost and natural rock minerals to feed the plants with. Fruits and vegetables are strategically planted and rotated to repel pests and keep everything healthy, sweet water is conserved in the farm’s own wells. There’s even a colony of bees who make yummy raw honey. Greenheart is a perfect self-sustained cycle – just as Mother Nature intended.