“You need to fight everyday, all and get up, learn and make yourself wiser and tougher”, Catalina Fernandez de Ana and Esteban Sinde
What is your job about?
It is a way to build a bridge between science, micology, and the rest of the world. We want to bring mushrooms and their properties to daily life with daily products that will provide benefits in quality life. We use excellence in every area of our research, use the best organic ingredients and best practice in all areas. We work with local communities in Galicia to encourage the planting of Chestnut trees for chestnuts and mushroom growing, trough the education of the population through hundreds of meetings with the local people. Showing them how to create a rich ecosystem rather than planting Eucalyptus trees. Our forest engineers show them to plant, to choose the best variety of chestnut for their zone, how to plant, prune and form the tree to increase the production. These trees give wild life to the land, oxygen, care for the forest and an easy yearly family economic revenue with the production of mushrooms and chestnuts.
What issues do you or did you address?
- Health issues, Reducing meat consumption with a great alternative, Renewing soils , Cancer treatment, Regenerating small communities and landscapes
What moved you to take action?
- Catalina’s father is a phytopathology researcher. The mother is keen to natural medicine. Catalina studied biology and was raised under an observing natural and international environment. She started to do some research and worked on a research scholarship working with plant pathology.
- Esteban´s father is a physician, a cardiovascular surgeon, his mother is a lab technician, he was raised on an health obsession and international environment. He studied biology in Santiago de Compostela University and then studied Landscape engineering at Gottingen University. He won a scholarship and went to Germany to study environmental management and landscape planning.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
- The enormous lack of knowledge-recognition, culture, the mushroom world has in most of the world
- In 2006 Galicia was devastated by a terrible forest fire. It burned all our trees production and GHGs, loses for more than 350.000 €. We received 100,000 from the government to help them rebuild. 2015 was the first year that we had positive numbers.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
We never thought about the possibility of giving up. It is our dream, our life, we are fighting for nature, for the environment, for health, for helping forest development and human wellbeing under a natural approach. What happened to us in 2006 was exactly what we were fighting for, the abandoned forest is intended to burn, condemned, so the only way for people will be look after it and not let it burn. What inspires us the most: to have a smiling face embracing you with tears with the good analysis results after a Mycotherapy treatment (Catalina); to see a plantation growing vigorously and producing huge chestnuts and mushrooms and see the proud face of the landlords (Esteban).
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
Studying, parents, lifelong interest, lifestyle, time spent working and living abroad
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
Catalina 10. Esteban 8