This is an innovative and stimulating activity for visitors, who can enjoy not only bird watching from our observatories but also from the rice fields at the Reserva de Riet Vell de SEO/BirdLife (SEO/BirdLife Riet Vell Reserve) on the Ebro Delta.
The environment is not an obstacle for rural development but its main source of resources. This concept is the basis for the SEO/Birdlife campaign, which is to make the Nature Network 2000 (Red Natura 2000) well-known in Europe. However, to communicate this, some tools, inherent to us as a species are necessary; visual curiosity, tenacity, pragmatism and some imagination.
The Riet Vell ecological rice project on the Ebro Delta has many of these qualities, which is why it is a pioneer and emblematic in its sector. The decision to produce rice ecologically, by understanding that its consumption is linked to environmental responsibility in an ever growing sector of the population, was a safe bet. In addition, it is beneficial for preservation of the birds and wetland, something which is indisputable at the hands of a scientific organization like ours.
Over time however, it has been necessary to find a communicational element, which would respond to other arising paradigms: the knowledge of what you are eating, product tracking, food safety and self-sufficiency, nature tourism and traditions, avoiding emissions of greenhouse gases by using alternatives to fossil fuels, offering visitors to the Delta knowledge through experience by direct contact with the natural and agricultural environment, with the thrill of discovery of what is unusual and everlasting.
This is how Arrozvolución 000 started; a project for public use and awareness bringing visitors closer to the rice fields, by putting their feet in the mud, learning how to plant rice manually, recognizing weeds and how to pull them out, reaping, drying and husking rice and producing a little rice for environmental gourmets with zero chemical products, zero fossil fuels and sold direct (zero kilometre), which is where the name comes from. This SEO/BirdLife project has been made possible thanks to volunteers at the Home for Volunteers at the Riet Vell Nature Reserve, de-industrialized rice produced on site.
The project also values more sustainable traditional aspects, by rediscovering and preserving ancestral knowledge of this crop which could be useful at some point in the future, restoring the use of horses instead of tractors and fuel, destroying the myths surrounding manual agricultural work which originated from poorer times with fewer resources, reassessing physical work as a source of good health, feeling the pleasure of putting your feet in mud, having the independence of something created by hand and not with industrial machines, with the special taste of hand-picked rice with its distinct texture and all its vitamins in tact, and the knowledge of our recent past, of the interaction of man with nature to create the landscape, of the symbolic value of rice in traditional culture etc.
If the rice fields are multipurpose areas where services offered to man by the agricultural system go beyond food and biodiversity, or the preservation of the Delta itself and its variety of traditional and more recent uses by man, then Arrozvolución 000 intends to give an interpretation with inspiring 100% sustainable elements.
Josep Bertomeu (Polet), the true ideological author of this project, says that aquatic strolls among the plants on a rice field, whether it be to pull out weeds or simply to walk peacefully through the mud, favours and improves the growth of rice as well as being a refreshing, pleasant and healthy experience. Isn’t it true that there are thousands of years of physiological and cultural ‘symbiosis’ between man and rice? This can probably be said of other agricultural crops and farming activities; symbiosis, complicity, collaboration with our natural allies, plants, frogs, birds, those which we cannot betray if we want to exist on this Earth.
The Riet Vell Reserve is an exceptional area which is always open for bird watchers and lovers of nature. Furthermore, numerous activities are available for the public, whether it is for individuals or family, for example ‘International Wetlands Day’, ‘The Tern Festival’, ‘Migratory Bird Day’, ‘Natural and Cultural Diversity Festival’, ‘World Bird Day’, ‘The Fang (mud) Festival’, ‘The Northern Lapwing has a party’. From now on, these events as well as games and activities giving knowledge on the birds and nature at the wetland, will also be complemented by the agricultural aspect of sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, husking and selecting the new Arroz 000 (000 Rice), on sale in situ. Do not miss it.
You can find the main public activities available throughout the year on:
- “Riet Vell Reserva de SEO/BirdLife” Facebook
- SEO/BirdLife en www.seo.org agenda
All of the information about our nature reserve is at www.seo.org/catalunya/reserva-natural-de-riet-vell-tarragona , or you can ask for information at email@example.com