In Bohinj, we champion sustainability and local products, so we are always looking for ways to responsibly develop in new, different areas. We have set ourselves a challenging goal of improving Bohinj’s agricultural self-sufficiency, to see if it would be possible to grow crops on such a large scale and manage the supply demands of the local business and catering industry. This is what the From Bohinj brand celebrates; local products that are endorsed and enjoyed by the local community.
Our ambitious aim is to set up a strong local short supply chain across all types of farms, especially on vegetable, fruit and other arable crops production and achieve organised market production. Then, through the local cooperative this produce will be connected with local restaurants and markets.
We took a number of steps to implement this organised local crop production project. Firstly, we asked Tourism Bohinj partners if they would be willing to buy locally produced vegetables, and an estimation of the quantities and types of vegetables needed. The cooperative was willing to take part in our project, but in the first year, Tourism Bohinj took over a section of the on-farm production, including organisation of all the necessary activities in the field of production like storage and preparation for the market.
A process started to understand how commercial production should take place, including the organisation of where crops should be planted and the distribution of production between farms according to the type of vegetable. We also opened up the project to smaller growers. This meant that those who currently just grow for their own needs can extend their gardens and make additional income.
Seven growers agreed to take part in the plan and started growing vegetables and crops for caterers from scratch. A production plan was drawn up for each grower’s area and an agreement was signed, meaning the project could commence.
The first plantings of vegetable crops took place at the beginning of April 2023 and continued at intervals until July. Using raised beds covered with biodegradable film and equipped with an irrigation system, the project boasted almost 2,000 running metres of multiple varieties of: onions, carrots, courgettes, lettuce, cucumbers, beetroot, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, parsley, celery, potatoes, beans.
Logistically, the team had to consider how to achieve the highest possible levels of freshness, and decided to use commercial techniques of cold storage and cold chain delivery. They also had to consider how to make sure that produce would be delivered in the shortest possible time frame. Special emphasis was placed to ensure that orders placed online, by phone or by email were delivered either the same or the next day.
On the whole, the crops have thrived, meaning the first deliveries of lettuce and cabbage started at the beginning of June. We now have 12 customers for our local vegetable deliveries, and with an increase in the number of visitors to Bohinj, there has been a rise in demand for vegetables in the region’s restaurants. Some recent storms in mid-July meant the supply was slightly halted, as damaged crops were removed and replanted, but not enough to stop production. The first produce was gradually incorporated into menus and put on the tables of Bohinj’s restaurants, and sold on the stalls of the newly launched market in Ribčev Laz.
Despite the many challenges, the results of this pilot crop production have left us incredibly encouraged for the future of this project. However, this project goes further than just crops. It highlights the connection between agriculture, nature protection and tourism, and the crucial importance of cooperation between these for the benefit of the local population and all visitors.
With respect for the environment and nature, we are continuing our efforts to strengthen the local food supply chain, as we believe this is the best way to achieve the goals of responsible development.