Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 9: Farm visit near Bulnes; Agrotourism at "Patron Viejo"

       This morning we traveled to San Vicente de Diguillin to visit with Eujenio and Carlos Smith who have a very diversified operation. They have been farming for sixteen years at this location where they grow fescue, rye, and orchard grass seed. They also grow sugar beet seed, corn seed, soybean seed, cucumber seed, blueberries, wheat, oats, and asparagus. Along with their seed production the finish about 2,000 head of cattle out in their feed lot per year. Upon arrival everyone headed to the corrals to see the corral system and wooden head gate.  After seeing the corrals we got back on the bus and headed off to see the Smith's fields and feedlot. The first stop was at one of their blueberry fields where they allowed us to sample some of the produce - very tasty!
Carlos & Eujenio Smith explaining about their diverse farming operation
We continued on to see more fields and their irrigation system. They use all surface water as they have a river located near the farm. It was impressive, seeing their feed yards which had Angus, Simmental, and Hereford cattle.  All the cattle in the feed yard had an ear tag with a SAG # this is their identification number and they must have this tag to be slaughtered. Most of their cattle are sold directly out of their feed yard as they said the market was to transparent. Another difference would be that they are paid on yield not live weight like some of us are accustomed to. They did say they would prefer the system that we have. The meat from these cattle stay in the domestic market as they have tried to get into the European market, but they run into to many regulations.  Another interesting fact was their was no permitting process for their feed lot, they said it is probably coming but as of right now they are not regulated.  It was a very interesting visit and very informative for SDARL Class VII.
View from Patron Viejo's farm
After leaving the Smith farm we headed to Fundo Centinela, Patron Viejo, where we were treated to a fantastic lamb lunch.  After lunch we were given a tour and some history of how the owner Pascual R. Martinez Cabrera got started in the Agrotourism business. Pascual's grandfather purchased the farm in 1924.  On the farm they have grown mint, and hard red winter wheat where the first seeds they used came from Oregon, USA. They no longer grow mint as it did not make economical sense. To stay diversified the also starting raising sheep where they were hoping to get into exporting lamb and mutton to Europe, but with the economic down turn that market has not developed. Pascual's hope is that this Agrotourism will supplement the farm income in the near term. They welcome visits to their beautiful farm, with a lake in the middle and the back drop of  mountains behind. Pascual has two daughters and is planning for them to run the business when he can no longer. It was a very beautiful place and I think we all enjoyed seeing it, and were amazed at some of the craftsman ship and art work. One very clear thing was Pascual was very passionate about what he is creating and making something for the next generation. More info can be found at

Pascual guiding Class VII at the Agrotourism farm

Class VII at Padre Viejo
 Submitted by Monica Mandernach