Earlier this month, between 2 and 4 February, part of the Food4Sustainability team headed to Spain, in the framework of the Erasmus+ TransFarmers project, in order to visit and meet, in person, the AlVelAl team and some of its associates.
The main objective of these visits was to acknowledge some of the sustainable projects that are under the responsibility of AlVelAl ("Finca de Cortijo El Ciruelo", "Finca de La Junquera" and "Finca de El Entredicho") in order to offer a more complete experience to future participants in the exchange program provided by the TransFarmers project.
"Finca de Cortijo El Ciruelo", in the province of Almería, has been farming almonds since 2015, having 26 hectares (ha) of organic almonds in an extensive model. This farm is known for the high quality of its almonds, which are mostly exported. Santiaga Sánchez, owner of the farm, has always chosen the use of sustainable agricultural practices, with the use of green manure, no tillage, and livestock integration, in order to help nature restore its ecosystem services more easily.
The "Finca de La Junquera", in the province of Murcia, has a total area of 1100 ha, with farming of cereal, almond, pistachio, vines, aromatic plants and apple trees. This farm is governed by holistic management, allowing the animals to live and develop in healthy conditions, as well as helping the soil to regenerate naturally. Also the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices, such as key-lines, swales and ponds, help to maximise water infiltration, minimising soil erosion and retaining and storing water.
A great curiosity about this farm is that they have more than half of the Murciano levantina cows that exist worldwide. In addition, they have an "Academy" project, in which they provide students the opportunity to develop their work in the fields of La Junquera, as well as training and other educational activities.
Finally, the “Finca de El Entredicho”, also in the province of Murcia, has 1000 ha where the production of nuts, almonds, pistachios and cereals is supported by regenerative agricultural techniques. Since 2008 they have an almond grove of 160 ha under organic production mode.
Outside the scope of the TransFarmers project, F4S team took advantage of their stay in Spain to visit a family business, where excellence in virgin olive oil production is a matter of course. Castillo de Canena, located in the province of Jaen, with a total area of 1850 ha, is exploited without any use of herbicides. The olive grove represents 1500 ha, which from the beginning has been produced in integrated protection mode. Currently, they also have organic and biodynamic olive oil production.
During this visit, the F4S team also had the opportunity to attend the Spanish "Nueva PAC" meeting and understand what measures are being taken to promote a more prosperous and sustainable agricultural development.
These visits were undoubtedly an added value for the F4S team, who were able to deepen their knowledge of almonds, olive groves, regenerative agricultural practices and feed their network with contacts from various stakeholders in the agri-food area.
See the photo gallery in here.