Rafael Monge has rescued Navazo vegetable gardens for the world of gastronomy and with them a number of crops in danger of disappearing, such as collard greens, yellow peas and salsify.
Brought up in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz), his family were farmers who followed the Navazo tradition. Rafael Monge returned to his homeland – after studying and working in various jobs – to help rescue this traditional but waning method of growing vegetables. A local, coastal agricultural system dating back to the 16th century, vegetable beds are dug into the sandy soil close to beaches. A technique of growing crops typical of Sanlúcar, the plants are not watered but are hydrated by way of capillary action and the underground influence of the tides.
Monge has poured into this project everything he learned from his parents, in addition to the knowledge acquired from his time at Oxford University, IBM’s R&D department and the IED School of Design in Madrid; its aim is to ennoble the profession of farming and recover a socio-cultural heritage that is linked to the sustainable future we all yearn. This initiative, called Cultivo Desterrado, has already garnered recognition from individuals and restaurants all over Spain.