ETHICAL | ECOLOGICAL | ENVIRONMENTAL | SUSTAINABLE
Who Are We?
Truffle Farms was founded by me – Martin Waddell. I moved my family of four children to a Mas in the Roussillon countryside, set among peach fields in October 2007. This gave me the opportunity to carry out an intensive period of research into truffles and their cultivation, but more importantly discussions and spending time with the world’s leading truffle scientists Dr Marcos Morcillo and Dr Xavi Vilanova, gave me the opportunity to create a business that we could be truly passionate about. And I wanted to share the fun and excitement of growing truffles in the best place in the world for their cultivation with others.
Where Are We Based?
Being based in the Roussillon, on the Spanish Mediterranean border, with Perpignan – the ancient capital of Catalonia is exactly that place. The Languedoc is one of the lesser known parts of southern France, but it has a rich agricultural history. This area collectively has proven its ability to be a grower’s paradise, with enormous levels of fruit and vegetable production, under more than 300 days of warm Mediterranean sunshine per year. It’s no surprise for those in the know, that the Languedoc is also the largest wine producing region in the World.
Terroir – We are making a significant investment in the cultivation and development of our truffieres (plantations) and consequently have taken a unique strategic approach to minimise risk in acquiring and developing them. A key component of this is based on regional focus. Allowing discreet but active management tailored to the specific terroir and its proven ability to maximise truffle growth and crop yield. For truffles terroir is critical, even more so than for wine, since in the case of wine it can be argued that terroir delivers a given wine its distinctive qualities. Whereas in the case of truffles, it is not only distinctions of quality but success of crop in its entirety that is governed.
We also seek to establish a Marque for our truffles that represents the unique quality of “French Origin” (Tuber Melanosporum) truffles, with a consistent supply capacity and excellent service. This is further evidenced by acquisitions currently under negotiation in the Perigord region of France, the spiritual home of the Perigord Black Truffle (known among gourmand’s the world over as the “Black Diamond”). Together, this gives us and our client’s access to the world’s most proven and productive land for truffle cultivation.
To this, we’ve added the World’s leading truffle inoculation and development science from our partners. Combining this with rigorous and monitored soil and plantation management, allows us to turn the historic “art” of truffle cultivation and all its uncertainties into natural but, science-based plantation developments, with improved yields in terms of time-to-fruiting and enhanced quality and quantity of crop.
Martin begins to conceive the idea of allowing other people to take an interest in having trees Martin will look after but, rather than just having the truffles as Dick has done, they could have the money from the sale of the truffles as well.
Martin concludes after over two years of trying to myth-bust the truffle industry that truffle science isn’t at this stage sufficiently robust to offer as a financially viable investment opportunity for those interested. He begins to focus on developing a small project for himself and discovers that the world’s best truffle scientist is right on his doorstep, just across the border in Spain.
After a number of very positive phone calls Dr Marcos Morcillo of Micologia Forestal y Aplicada, invites Martin to visit him and his team at their then mushroom farm in Cardedeu, nr Barcelona. Martin meets Marcos, and Dr’s Xavi Vilanova and Monica Sanchez. He enjoys a tour of the shitake mushroom farm, the brand new built truffle tree nursery facilities and enjoys a day of world class truffle science, excellent company and good food.
A return trip to Marcos and the team includes a visit to a local plantation and Martin begins to gain a depth of knowledge of the application of new truffle science and husbandry in the field. A bond is formed and strong friendships forged. Martin begins to realise the real potential for the investment opportunity that the truffle science Micologia are developing offers.
After much work developing a business plan and resultant meetings with boutique pension funds, merchant and investment banks and global agricultural investment specialists in the City, there appears to be an appetite for an alternative investment in truffles. It is agreed an investment fund would be the best vehicle to take the concept forward.
IGS Advisory are appointed as advisors and The Black Diamond Fund is created. On the strength of this, Martin places an order for 50,000 trees with Marcos. This will require 250,000 acorns to be sourced and germinated. Given that this order is way beyond the capacity of the current truffle development nurseries at Cardedeu, it is agreed that a new and larger facility should be found.
Marcos suggests a visit to the IRTA, a vast Spanish Government agricultural and plant research estate, just outside Barcelona. At this stage the main research buildings are incomplete, but Martin is very impressed by the world class facilities and it is agreed this should be the plant development facility for our truffle projects.
The bays are set out and the first 250,000 acorns for germination are brought in for establishment in the silica beds that have been especially constructed. The advanced and automated micro-zonal climate control capability, within the IRTA’s vast nursery bays will, provide the most advanced and technically superior environment that truffle trees have ever been developed within.
Despite substantial efforts it is apparent that our Advisers are unable to deliver the Fund result we had anticipated. This comes as a blow both financially and in terms of project momentum and credibility to Martin. A strategic decision is made to withdraw from launching the fund. Further, the commitment of Micologia to the huge work and undertakings of the IRTA has left them badly exposed financially. A hasty emergency meeting over lunch takes place between Martin and the Micologia Team in Girona. Martin manages to convince existing investor Jan Novotny to consider investing further. Jan drives from his home in Switzerland, collecting Martin from his home near Perpignan and they drive to visit the IRTA. Meeting Marcos and the Team and seeing the world class facilities of the IRTA, convince Jan to invest further. This funding allows Micologia to survive the crises and Martin changes strategic direction to a direct sales model and retains 5,000 of the established tree stock.
After further growth Martin decides to form a more scalable business brand under the brand Truffle Farms Europe Ltd and seeks new equity investment.
Wealthy Scottish entrepreneur Graeme Henderson visits TFE facilities and plantations and is hugely impressed with the scale and potential. He agrees to invest, allowing Truffle Farms Europe to acquire in a further 8,000 trees and develop new channels to market as well as develop and launch re-brand.
Martin visits one of the world’s largest truffle festivals in Acqualagna and is invited to meet the Mayor Andrea Pierotti, who presents him with the newly published book celebrating 50 Years of Acqualagna’s – 3 annual truffle festivals, for both black winter and summer truffles and the rare White Alba truffle for which, Acqualagna is one of two of the largest harvest areas globally.
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We develop Truffle Farms with the World’s best Truffle Science Company
WE PLANT THEM IN THE WORLD’S BEST TRUFFLE GROWING SOIL IN SOUTHERN FRANCE
Forestry for Fine Food