DSM: You enjoy showing visitors your fields of flowers. Why is this important to you?
FM: I think customers from the cosmetics companies find it really helpful both to see where the ingredients they use come from and to learn something about the plants, I guess it creates a sense of connection with nature. When people have an appreciation of the work involved it also enhances the status of what we do here. It’s very satisfying for me to see how surprised and impressed visitors are when they see all the fields in bloom, the colours extend for miles.
DSM: And how do you feel when you see the final cosmetics products created from your plants?
FM: I feel very proud indeed. Supplying a major cosmetic ingredient company such as DSM is a real opportunity and to know that my plants are going into beauty products that are sold all over the world is an amazing feeling. I draw a real sense of value from this.
DSM: A key aspect of Fair Trade is, of course, fair payment, but how is this approach helping you more generally?
FM: Well we all need to earn our living so this collaboration means I can stand my ground in sometimes challenging conditions. But when you know you are collaborating on Fair Trade terms with a supportive partner you are also motivated to do the best work you can and to produce the best possible quality plants you can at all times. There’s a real chance to learn and improve what you do and ultimately, the buyer and end consumer also benefit from this. The stability has enabled me to extend my plantations too, so I can also give employment to other people locally.
DSM: There is much more awareness now of the need to protect natural areas and our planet, what do you see as the main challenges for your valley?
FM: We are lucky in many ways because being so high in the mountains and surrounded by forests the land is well protected and the air unpolluted. It’s an ideal environment for nature. However, I want to help keep it this way and it’s important not to be complacent. Our organic approach to farming is part of this but I’m also keen to encourage biodiversity, so I’ve already planted more trees, installed nesting boxes for birds and introduced beehives.
DSM: And what are your hopes for the future?
FM: I want to keep working with DSM and I’d like to grow an even wider range of aromatic plants. I also want to stay on the land here, surrounded by the mountains, clean air and beautiful flowers - it’s where I’ve always been and you could say it’s in my blood!