Beekeeper, farmer, woodland guide, entrepreneur… all of them taking their inspiration above all from the land.
QUIN ZINIO, BEEKEEPER
Quin was seventeen when he came across his first swarm of bees in a sugarcane field. Nowadays, he has seven hives. For him, what began merely as a humble contribution to protecting bees has become a real passion. As he proudly relates, “My bees have become so used to me, I don’t even use gloves any more.” Quin is not only a beekeeper but also a guide at the Heritage Nature Reserve – his regular job. He received training about the countryside there so he could accompany visitors through the Reserve’s 3,200 acres abounding in plant and animal life. Daily activity in the Reserve is full of little pleasures, like standing under an 800-year-old bois de natte, seeing the flame tree (bouquet banané) flower or watching groups of the Mauritian echo parakeets flying overhead. Quin grew up surrounded by nature. His grandparents were gamekeepers and his father grew potatoes in Britannia. As a result, in his spare time, the young man never misses an opportunity to take his dog for a walk along the riverbank where he catches small freshwater shrimps and picks taro leaves, known locally as brèdes songes. Many might consider that a really luxurious lifestyle…
DENIS MOOTEGOO, TENDING TO HIS PLANTS
Born in Beau Bassin, Denis’ dream since leaving Royal College Curepipe was to work in the South. “When I was young,” he somewhat nostalgically recalls, “I loved going on holiday in Bel Ombre.” An opportunity arose in 1990 in the sugarcane sector when he was appointed to work on the cane weighing system at Bel Ombre – and he hasn’t left the region since. He learnt on the job and, four years later, was made responsible for Agrïa ’s Chamarel and Case Noyale sections. He spent twenty years there, surrounded by sugarcane and coffee, palm and pineapple plantations.
I LOVE WATCHING THE PLANTS GROW AND THRIVE
Asked to create a garden of endemic plants at the Coloured Earth site with the support of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, he developed a passion for local plants. He is now Agrïa’s Smart Agriculture Officer, running the company’s plant nursery. His team has recently been given training in organic methods and, in their seventeen-acre market garden, plants vegetables and fruit using sustainable farming methods. “What do I like best about my job? Watching the plants grow and thrive, treating attacks by pests and any disease that infects them. A little bit like a doctor.”
FRANCESKA SPEVILLE, FRIEND OF THE ENVIRONMENT
In Bel Ombre, the Outgrowing Co-operative’s workshop greets us with an aroma of caramel and the rhythmic clap-clap of five machines. In a room built of basalt stone, a smiling Franceska is making plates out of crown shafts of eight to ten-year-old mature palm trees. The Rodriguan regularly travels around the island, gathering by hand the crown shafts that have fallen to the ground. Her favorite hunting grounds are Château Benares (where she finds some magnificent white leaves), Britannia, Union Vale, Medine and, of course, Bel Ombre. Always looking to innovate and naturally inquisitive, she recently went to the Botanical Garden in Pamplemousses in search of new palm-tree varieties. As she admits, “I’m very much aware of nature. It’s how I’ve moved forward, always placing my trust in it.” In 2018, she received her first major order for 1,500 plates that she had to produce in two days on machines she has imported from India.
IT’S A REAL ALTERNATIVE TO PLASTIC AND I LOVE WHAT I’M DOING!
The operation was a success and, since then, Franceska has become renowned in her sector. “It’s an environmentally-friendly product that destroys nothing and re-uses what has fallen. Each plate is unique and can be used several times. It can even be placed in a microwave. It’s a real alternative to plastic and I love what I’m doing.”