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L’Horta de la Mercè

By Lola Puig Photo Andrea Ferrés

The Empordà is full of charming spots, unique characters, and hidden places with great love for the land and sustainable values. Our region is the perfect place to take part in the farm-to-table and slow food movements. David and Imma have created an oasis of good, pure, and fair food with a wide array of colors.

How did you get here, Imma?

Ever since I was really young my grandfather brought me to pick the best tomatoes from his garden, and I dreamed of living surrounded by nature and having a garden. While I was growing up, I learned about environmental issues and I wanted to make my contribution to help restore everything that was going wrong. I studied biology and I learned a lot about plants and found my true calling: I wanted to do agricultural research. I wanted to give back so people can eat real, high-quality food. I wanted to create a small place of resistance and to fight against all the agricultural practices that are destroying the earth, polluting the water and air, and producing foods that make people unhealthy.

Dreams are outlines of the future, no?

I came back wanting to put into practice everything I had learned and I got back in contact with David, who was also excited about starting up an organic farm based on the principle of experimental self-sufficiency. Later, we started to produce and live off of what we grew on the farm.

Tell me about Mercè. Who is she?

The name Mercè comes from David’s grandmother who purchased this land during the Spanish Civil War so money that she made selling vegetables at the market couldn’t be taken away from her. Currently we farm the entire plot.

Are you restoring biodiversity in honor of your ancestors?

Life is based on biodiversity, on genetic variability. This is what makes it possible for plants and animals like us to adapt to living in such different places. Of course plants can’t move by themselves from the place where they take root, which is why it’s vitally important to preserve genetic variety. That’s why we work with many different varieties and we preserve older seeds like prized treasures. Organic agriculture doesn't aim to get rid of every insect that could cause a problem. We use herbal and medicinal plants to make combinations to improve the health of our cropsso we can fight against diseases. There are also many flowers that attract beneficial and pollinating insects that promote biodiversity.

What can people find at Mercè’s Garden?

Seasonal organic vegetables. Our biggest strength lies in our traditional varieties of tomatoes, with a wide array of colorful tomatoes: we have more than 100 ancient varieties, not hybrids of tomatoes from around the world. But we also offer around 15 new cross-bred varieties from here. In addition, we grow traditional Chilean, Mexican, Peruvian, and Thai eggplant varieties, as well as a wide variety of herbs.

Who do you sell to?

We prepare baskets to go (WhatsApp 680 753 845) that customers can pick up on Tuesdays. Our Instagram account is @horta_de_la_merce. We also do the summer market in Peratallada. Our vegetables are also in the markets with other local producers. We have also earned the trust of restaurants such as: Sa Rascassa (Aiguafreda, Begur), Turandot (Begur), Tragamar (Calella de Palafrugell), Rakú (Corçà), Ca l’Amadeu (Palamós), La Barberia (Palamós), Bocatto (Palamós), Ca la Pepa (Platja d’Aro), and Taverna Cal Barber (Sant Antoni de Calonge), among many others. You can taste our tomatoes at all of them. Our products are part of their exquisite creations!