The 2019 Newbie Portugal Award was won by Raquel Alves, founder of the Ervitas Catitas farm, producing and selling organic aromatic herbs and essential oils. In 2008, after losing her job, Raquel turned the small herbal garden she had started on succession land as a personal hobby into Ervitas Catitas (Fancy Little Herbs in Portuguese) one of the first aromatic plant productions in Portugal.
One of the biggest difficulties she faced initially, as a Portuguese pioneer in this field, was access to technical information on organic aromatic plant production, erratic national market demand during times of economic crisis and overestimated profit margins. Through perseverance, dedication to research and experimentation, and commitment to sustainable practices, Raquel turned the farm and her certified organic brand into one of the sector’s most dynamic companies in a growing market demand. Her business now spreads between her small farmland in Pegões where she runs a nursery site to raise plant material and her father’s farmland in Estremoz for plant cultivation with a drying and distillation facilities. Her hard-earned success has a brought a virtuous ripples effect with national and international cooperation in research projects, training and lectures on this topic.
The prize, worth €500 in kind, is tailored to the needs of the winner or his team for expenses towards specific training or exchange visit to another innovative agribusiness model in Europe. Winners are also entitled to a video presentation to showcase their agribusiness. Additionally, Raquel will have the opportunity to build up her network by joining the winners from other countries attending the next European Newbie conference to be held in Berlin in January 2021.
New entrants in the agricultural sector are essential to rural economic dynamism and to creating sustainable and resilient landscapes. The Newbie Award was designed to distinguish every year, in each of its nine European partner countries, a new agricultural entrepreneur who adopted innovative and inspiring