By Eneko Atxa, Chef, Azurmendi

Why are we doing this?

It can be summarized as follows: “We do noinherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.

This is our philosophy. We are committed to our land, we want to preserve it as well as our cultural heritage, but also develop it and generate value avoiding harmful side effects.

This philosophy has been the basis of our work. Azurmendi, was born as an eno-gastronomic complex and has grown for the last 10 years as a business and as a research, knowledge and discussion point. In 2012, we took a big step forward with the opening of our bioclimatic building, which has the Silver LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for its design and construction.

Two years later we were delighted to win the Sustainable Restaurant Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in recognition, among other things, of our use of renewable energy, rainwater harvesting and our approach to waste – separating and treatment.

Then last year we took another step forward. In cooperation with Larrabetzu municipality, we started separating and treating the tonnes of organic waste generated in the operations to make compost. This compost will be used to fertilise our 40 hectare winery.

Now, in 2016, we have teamed up with NEIKER-Tecnalia (the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development) for a new project. More than 400 seeds are on show in our greenhouse located on top of the restaurant. This germplasm bank of local varieties is a sample representing the local varieties of vegetables from the Basque regions of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba.

These seeds have been donated by NEIKER, for the sole purpose of conveying the importance of the germplasm banks to preserve the local agriculture biodiversity, as well as the contribution of our farmers in the selection, protection and improvement of local produce. I use local produce in our recipes to better support the work of our farmers and their way of living. We want Azurmendi to be a sharing community and we will give our restaurant customers some seeds, accompanied by a corresponding certificate, to be planted in their gardens. We have created an online platform Grow Azurmendi Blog where they will be able to exchange information and their experiences with us.

We also want to be accountable and at the beginning of this year we presented Azurmendi´s Sustainable Development Goals in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, approved in September 2015. These goals will be the basis for our strategy over the next 15 years.

Lastly, we have developed a laboratory in cooperation with the Basque Country University to develop knowledge to optimize different gastronomic resources, working on the design of energy efficient small appliances for the kitchen.

Our journey continues…