"Aromas del Encinar - AROEN": aromatic and medicinal plants from Madrid municipality rural areas
The holm oak forests are one of the most common ecosystems in the Madrid municipality. Due to the low profitability of forest management, based on timber production, the oak forests, in the last decades, have been abandoned. The valorization of aromatic and medicinal plants, that grow spontaneously in the oak forests, can improve the profitability of forest management, creating new income opportunities in rural areas.
“Aromas del encinar - AROEN”, in Spanish language, literally means “aromas from the holm oak forests” and is a family-run project born with the aim to enhance the sustainable management of this ecosystem, very frequent in the Madrid municipality. In fact, this ecosystem, in the last decades, has been often abandoned due to low profitability. The project is based on strong resource management and biodiversity conservation plan, promoting wild-collected aromatic and medicinal plant goods.
AROEN is a family-run project that relies on the spontaneous aromatic plants that grow on the private property of the family itself. AROEN has already developed a management plan aimed to enhance aromatic and medicinal plant production. AROEN has also a wide portfolio of products: condiments and teas, essential oils and hydrosols, tinctures and others. Customers are asked not just to purchase the products but to be an active part of the project, participating in the harvesting and in the processing phase. The involvement of the costumers is one of the most important goals of the project, also in order to promote the knowledge concerning "encinar" ecosystems.
One of the pillars of the project is the central role of the consumer, which is considered not just as the end of the value chain but as a key part of its early stage: the harvesting of products. The inclusion of the consumer in the supply-chain is considered fundamental to communicate the added value of a wild product compared to an artificial one. Furthermore, thanks to the local production, the origin of the product and its traceability along the value chain are always guaranteed.
Impacts and weaknesses
Despite being still in an early stage, the AROEN project has already a wide range of finished products made from wild-collected aromatic and medicinal plants. The involvement of the consumers in forest management and harvesting is still in its early stage but can have a high impact, in terms of social and environmental awareness. At the moment, the project is looking for strategic partners to boost its impacts.
AROEN project is working in the design of an effective marketing and communication strategy, in order to properly place their products on the market, communicating their principles of sustainability and traceability. Furthermore, AROEN is also enlarging its offer toward ecotourism: the next steps include activities in the wild such as tour guides or detailed visits to the facilities.