The idea came at the beginning of 2011, when two young entrepreneurs, Rita Beltrão and Filipe Verdasca, wanted to build a differentiating and innovative project in the agrifood sector in Marvão. Marvão is municipality with its centre in a medieval village located in a small montain area of São Mamede, a Natural Park in the inland of Southern Portugal (Alentejo region), close to the border to Spain. The idea was to take advantage of the region’s potential, due to the microclimatic differentiation which allows the production of different crops that cannot be found in the rest of the region. This project is based on the establishment of local partnerships based on reliable and fair trade with the region’s small producers and processors.
The main objective of TerriuS is the sustainable production, processing, conservation and commercialization of wild products, fruits and vegetables from the region. For this, the company use simple transformation processes, such as dehydration and conservation of natural preserves, maintaining the unique characteristics of the raw materials, to keep the original flavors and aromas. TerriuS also develops gastronomic tourism activities based on the valorization of the Mediterranean Diet and the products of the Alentejo region.
The company is housed in a formerly restored tidal mill, where it has a shop and a permanent exhibition and where they also organize, using the surrounding garden when weather permits, activities in the area of Gastronomic Tourism, ranging from workshops, picnics, cooking classes or simple tastings.
Although TerriuS is not a primary producer, it is a very important link in maintaining the still small production units in the region and the small processing units. Especially due to the seasonality of the products, keeping these small units was otherwise difficult. TerriuS is therefore an important social and economic boosting factor for the Marvão region.
However, not everything is easy. The fact that TerriuS depends on services provided by others makes it an added difficulty in the whole process that has to be chained from production to processing. Working with small producers sometimes leads to difficulties in terms of invoicing and price instability for the same product in the same producer. The location that is privileged by the intrinsic characteristics of the local and the region’s products, brings difficulties in terms of transport and logistics due to its interiority and geographical isolation. Working with small processing units also sometimes causes difficulties in the labor qualification, difficulties of homogenization of the product and in the final cost.
The key to this business model is innovation and strong communication. The way TerriuS owners can overcome barriers is to do most of the things themselves. Both owners are multifaceted in their functions: sales, tourist reception, gastronomic experience, support production, management, consultancy, training and many more.