Júlia was the name of my maternal grandmother. A person who, although I enjoyed less time with her than I would have liked, had a huge influence on my life, on my passion for cuisine, and on my love of dining in good company. These wonderful memories prompted my brother and me to rename this olive farm Campillo de Júlia, formerly known as Masía del Campillo.
On 24 January 2020, after some time looking for land to plant olive trees on, we took over an olive grove with more than five hundred years of history. Located in the town of Jérica (Castellón), it's a 116-hectare farm bordered to the south by the Regajo Reservoir and to the north by the Sierra de Espadán Nature Park.
By talking to local people and researching some books, we're learning some fascinating facts about the history of this old farm. Back in the sixteenth century, the Campillo de Júlia housed a monastery of monks, after which it became an inn and then, at the end of last century, a livestock farm. One of the things that excited us the most is that the Camino de Santiago runs by the farm, on the route that starts out from Sagunto. We're currently renovating the stone farmhouse to turn it into a lodging for pilgrims or for CrowdFarmers with an adopted olive tree who want to come and visit us.
We haven't stopped working since we bought the farm at the beginning of 2020 and it already looks quite different. In this short period of time, we have restored a shed for the 400 sheep that live on the farm to sleep in; we've built a compost heap where we can produce our own organic compost for the olive trees; and we've bought a tractor with its implements to prune the olive trees and spread the manure.
On an economic level, we've managed to buy this olive grove after ten years producing, collecting and selling oranges. There have been good, bad and so-so years over the past decade. We were lucky that the worst years harvest-wise were the first few ones. That helped us learn how to do business with few resources, and that things could only get better. To make a living from agriculture, you have to develop the ability to save, especially when you have a good harvest and you tend to think that you're doing better than you are. When you look back, the bad years aren't so bad, and the good years aren't so good.
The next big challenge for 2022 is the construction of the olive mill to produce our olive juice. This is the most complex step and the one that we've spent the most time thinking about. We're going to build an oil mill in one of the abandoned warehouses that we found in the olive grove when we bought it, and which was previously used for livestock. It won't be the largest oil mill in the world, or the one with the most modern machines, but we're going to try and make it more sustainable, thanks to the materials that we're going to use to build it, the source of energy (solar), and the second life that we're going to give to the waste it generates. The pomace to make compost and the stones to heat the facilities.