Throughout lockdown, Bunyola-based Circle Carbon has been delivering care boxes of lush and often gigantic vegetables to delighted customers.
The boxes, called ‘VerdaLlum’ in Catalan, meaning Green Light, are packed with cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, Swiss chard, spinach, cilantro, parsley, three varieties of kale, herbs, different types of lettuce, rocket, cress and radicchio and that’s just for starters.
Circle Carbon is selling its spectacular vegetables to people in Bunyola who can come to its farm.
If you live in Deià, Alaró, Valldemossa, Sóller, Esporles, Santa Maria or Palma, you can have a veggie box delivered to your door for a small extra cost.
Launched in 2018, Circle Carbon is the brainchild of Christer Söderberg, a tireless devotee of the regenerative benefits of adding biochar, a kind of charcoal, to soil.
Biochar is made by burning organic waste such as wood chips and dead leaves and plants in a container with very little oxygen. Provided the biomass is untreated, no contaminating fumes and less than half the CO2 gases are released. Biochar also helps capture and store carbon, reducing CO2 emissions, and increasing food security.
Applying biochar to degraded soils can clearly improve quality, as the splendid, tasty vegetables grown in Circle Lab’s demonstration gardens at Bunyola, inland from Deià, demonstrate.
I asked Christer how the idea to deliver veggie boxes came about.
‘Monday 16 March, when Spain began lockdown, was the day we were due to sign a large contract to supply a successful restaurant in Palma. But then everything stopped dead, leaving us with a large amount of biochar-grown, carbon negative vegetables ready for harvest that would be going to waste if we didn’t think quickly.’
Christer started offering VerdaLlum veggie boxes to a small group of friends. Demand grew rapidly and has kept growing.
‘Now baby squash are ready for harvest,’ Christer says. ‘We’ll soon have zucchini and we’re still offering kale, chard, spinach and lettuce. In a few weeks, we’ll have cucumbers, peppers and the first tomatoes.’
Why does Christer think the veggie box service has taken off in the way it has?
‘Lockdown and the virus seem to have made many people think about food, which is not surprising. But they’re also concerned about quality and nutritional value.’
How does he feel about the runaway success of the veggie boxes?
‘It makes us very happy, of course. Being able to share healthy, organic, nutrient rich, carbon negative, beautiful – in some cases huge – locally grown vegetables means healthier food, greater food security and more awareness of the remarkable benefits of biochar.’
Christer expects to continue to offer home delivery of Circle Carbon Lab’s incredible vegetables after lockdown ends and increase production by an extra 200%.
‘I’m talking to investors and exploring crowdfunding to see how we can speed things up,’ he says.
Looking to the future, he’s keen for people to visit the farm and see vegetables growing in what he calls TerraLlum or BioChar-based Super Soil.
Production is also being expanded from 1000 to over 5000 m2, enabling more people to, as Christer puts it, ‘enjoy local, organic and carbon negative produce: good for me, good for you, good for the planet.’
Circle Carbon is also keen to work with people who would like home vegetable gardens created with its Super Soil.
‘We’re doing one in Soller,’ Christer says, ‘and talking to potential clients. We can provide a full service, from design through soil regeneration, irrigation, planting schedules and maintenance that takes into account a family or individual’s tastes, needs and travel plans.’
Looking at the future for the planet, Christer is pleased that people have become more aware of the benefits of nutrient rich vegetables. He’s also happy that, during this strange time, 30% less fossil fuels are being burned.
But, he points out, ‘worldwide, we lose 10,000,000 hectares of fertile soil per year. Soils on Mallorca have on average less than 1% humus (2-6% is the norm). Internationally it’s said there’s soil for another 60 to 100 harvests at the rate we’re degrading our soils with chemical pesticides and fertilisers.’
A large box of vegetables, around 7 to 9 kg costs €25. A medium-sized box is €15. There’s a small extra charge for delivery.
You can order by contacting Christer via WhatsApp on +34 603 815 770, via Facebook @CircleCarbonLabs, or email: email@example.com.
Written by David Holzer, a Mallorca-based author, journalist and blogger.