9 Questions with Maria Timveos of HerbanLeaf Farms
One of the best things of being part of the Freight Farms team is talking to our farmers and hearing about their successes, customers, and challenges as they pursue a variety of container farming ventures. They are a wealth of information, so we're sharing some of their stories with you!
We caught up with Maria of HerbanLeaf Farms to learn more about the Timveos family farm in Parekklisia, Cyprus!
Freight Farms: What’s the story behind your container farming project?
Maria Timveos: We were introduced to a retired businessman here in Cyprus, who was practicing aquaponics. His passion for what he was doing was so inspiring that it got us thinking...what are were going to do when we retire? My husband, Panayiotis spent many nights after work researching different aspects of farming, and one night came across videos of the different Freight Farmers. For him, it was an “aha!” moment–it’s just what he was looking for. It was sustainable farming, it was growing clean and healthy food, and, above all, it saved on water, which is not a luxury here in Cyprus.
After weeks of research, his enthusiasm for this project rubbed off onto Myrianthi (our daughter) and me. We could not wait to order our very own container. Panayiotis and I flew to De Hague in Holland to check out one that was in operation, just to make sure it’s what we expected. After that, we were hooked. So now Myrianthi and I are running the show.
FF: Who do you sell your produce to?
MT: At the moment, we sell to health shops and local markets. But we hope to expand this customer base!
FF: Have you found that customers are willing to pay more for your product?
MT: Yes! They understand the importance of quality and are willing to pay extra.
FF: What kind of crops do you grow?
MT: Kale is huge in Cyprus at the moment, and hard to come by, so we are growing three types, which are our best sellers. Another favorite among most is Wasabina–we just love watching people taste it for the first time! At the same time, we grow small quantities of unusual (for Cyprus) crops and test it it’s a product that will sell well.
FF: What is one thing you want your customers to know about you and your project?
MT: We are committed to grow and offer our customers clean leafy greens and herbs that are pesticide, herbicide, and soil free. Our products have a long shelf life and it is important for us to show transparency in the way we grow. We encourage people to visit our farm!
FF: What would you say is the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
MT: The most pressing issue here in Cyprus, and in the whole world, is the waste of water and the use of harmful chemicals that are continuously sprayed to prevent diseases and pests, or even adding hormones to create a faster crop cycle. These chemicals are contaminating our ground water and neighboring soil. This is something we would like to help change here in Cyprus.
FF: What was the most challenging part of becoming a Freight Farmer, and how were you able to overcome it?
MT: We would have to say the technical side of becoming a Freight Farmer was the most challenging. We are by no means tech-savvy, however, with the amazing support from the Freight Farms team, we have managed to learn our way around the farm and, at times, even sound a little professional.
FF: And, what’s the best part of being a Freight Farmer?
MT: Being part of an international network of growers and knowing that, no matter where they are located, we might have the same issues and can help each other. Also, knowing that Freight Farms is there to help and support us as required is great.
FF: Last but not least, what’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone interested in becoming a Freight Farmer?
MT: Just go for it! You will learn a lot through the entire process, you will also have challenging times, but if you are passionate and motivated it will be one of the most amazing projects you will be a part of.
Want to learn more about our Freight Farmers?