Last Updated on Friday, 21 May, 2021 at 9:42 am by Andre Camilleri
Last week, a small group of MAPFRE volunteers dedicated a morning towards estate maintenance and planting of shrubs at Tas-Salut Fruit Orchard in Mġarr. The orchard is a beautiful piece of land managed by two local farmers who form part of the Merill Rural Network. Together with their extended family, the two farmers manage multiple parcels of land and thus, has become a full-time commitment for them.
The Merill Rural Network is an initiative which seeks to empower local farmers and artisans. The social enterprise aims to achieve this by guiding farmers and artisans to provide rural tours and produce local products of the highest standards. It evolved throughout the years into a solid, sustainable hub and spoke model, whereby Merill lies at the centre and assists individual members within the network. Its role is to facilitate operations and oversee the marketing efforts of the members so that they, in turn, could concentrate on cultivating land and producing genuine local products.
Other than empowering the rural community, the network also seeks to increase awareness about local agriculture and revive traditions. The two main pillars of the network are Rural Tours and Local Products. In both cases, Merill strives to add value to the farmers’ and artisans’ venues and products by bridging the gap between the producer and the consumer. The latter is carried out by means of educational visits, and the members of the Merill Rural Network are diversifying their products and services to offer new experiences to locals and tourists.
Similar to other estates, Tas-Salut Fruit Orchard requires constant maintenance, especially when taking into consideration the implications that arose over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented any rural tourism-related activities from taking place at the farm. Even though a great deal of work was carried out by the MAPFRE volunteers and the two local farmers, Tas-Salut Fruit Orchard, like any functioning farm, needs constant upkeep going forward, which includes maintenance on windbreaks and embellishment.
While abiding by the COVID-19 regulations, the group of volunteers set out to help with general maintenance on the fruit orchard. A total of 12 large garbage bags of organic waste were collected, and several indigenous plants were planted at the entrance to further embellish the area. As a ‘thank you’, the MAPFRE Volunteers were treated to several platters of genuine local produce following the end of the Rural CSR activity.
Rural CSR is a local initiative by the Merill Rural Network in collaboration with the MaYA Foundation which aims to bridge commercial entities to the local rural community in order to invest in and support medium and long-term green sustainable projects.