The Dehesa de Cútar farm has been a family project since its origin since it was a dream of my husband and myself to be able to dedicate ourselves to growing tropical fruits in a sustainable way. At the beginning of the 2010s, we bought in Cútar (Málaga) some semi-abandoned land with a small avocado plantation. This farm was very unproductive and difficult to work. Even so, from the moment I first saw it, it was clear to me that despite being a challenge, I would be able to transform it into productive land. Now, after much effort, it is practically a tropical garden. The name of the farm comes from the place where it is located, known locally as La Dehesa. It belongs to the municipality of Cútar, so that is why we chose this name. From the farm you can see two very beautiful towns in the Axarquía area, Cútar and Comares. Both municipalities are typical white Andalusian villages on mountain slopes. They are very small and have a particular charm since when you visit them it transports you to the Arab era, when they were founded.
The farm, being difficult to work and in a state of neglect, was very unprofitable. It had some ruins of farmhouses, which we have rehabilitated little by little. One of the houses is the headquarters of the farm, we do not live there but we enjoy it a lot together with family and friends. The other houses are used for vacation rentals and rural tourism. Currently the farm is a tropical garden, we grow mainly mangoes and avocados in an organic way, but we also have kumquats (dwarf oranges), custard apples and medlars. For our consumption we have all kinds of plants such as passion fruit, papaya or peach, and our chickens! My daughters love to feed them and go collect their eggs. There are also areas of Mediterranean forest, which we have conserved to promote Mediterranean biodiversity. Dehesa de Cútar is our main farm, however we have other farms in the provinces of Malaga and Granada in which we grow the same plants with the same environmental and quality criteria.
The socio-economic transformation that the area has undergone thanks to the impetus that the cultivation of subtropical plants has taken, has, from my point of view, led to a reduction in dependence on tourism and the creation of local wealth. Transforming unproductive territory into fertile land creates quality and stable employment. There are 12 people that currently work at Dehesa de Cútar continuously throughout the year, and who have been with us for between 2 and 7 years. Additionally, we must count the people who work in the logistics center where the fruit is prepared. Despite being seasonal jobs, they are created precisely in the low season of tourism, so the two activities are perfectly combined. All our workers receive a salary equal to or higher than that stipulated in the collective agreement, which in many cases is improved by productivity.
Throughout the farm we have ponds where we store water to irrigate the fields. We are very concerned about the water consumption of the farm that is why we have covered the rafts with protective balls that prevent the evaporation of the water. The water is distributed directly to the trees by an efficient drip irrigation system. We have state-of-the-art sensors that activate irrigation automatically only when the plants need it. I am always vigilant to take advantage of technological advances and increase the efficiency of the use of resources and the sustainability of the farm. Most of the water comes from the Pantano de la Viñuela irrigation community, and we have emergency wells to extract water in exceptional cases. We have also begun to channel rainwater to collect it in the ponds and increase our irrigation autonomy. However, not the entire farm is channeled since it is an expensive process, but we intend to be able to do so as soon as possible. Water consumption is not distributed evenly throughout the year. The daily water consumption in summer for mangoes is 16l, 50l for avocados and 8l for Kumquats. In winter the average drops to 3l for mangoes, 8l for avocados and 2l for kumquats.
We have several quality accreditations on the farms and the logistics center where we process the orders. The most important are the certificates of organic farming, globalGAP, GRASP or IFS Food. These certificates are a sign of quality that guarantees consumers good agricultural, sustainability and social practices. On the farm we promote biodiversity by letting the grass grow and controlling it with a brush cutter or manually, this favors the presence of natural enemies. The pruning remains are left to compost under the trees.
We also place traps for pests, which are selective and only affect harmful insects. To promote pollination we have the help of a local beekeeper who installs his hives in the flowering season of mangoes and avocados. We have a project to install solar panels on the farm for pumping water. On the roof of the logistics center where we handle the fruit we have installed panels as well to be more self-sufficient. The GRASP seal guarantees the consumer that good social practices are carried out with the workers both on the farm and in the warehouse.
Our fruit passes several quality controls before it is shipped. The first control is made by the farm workers who separate damaged or overripe fruits. The second control is carried out in the logistics center where we prepare the boxes, where the fruit is re-inspected in case any damaged piece remains unremoved. We do not separate fruit for aesthetic or size reasons. We believe that both large and small fruit, both "ugly" or "pretty" fruit are perfect to be consumed. We will not send you fruit with low quality for consumption, but you will see that each of your fruits will be genuinely unique just as nature produces them! The separated fruit is dedicated for further processing, we produce organic guacamole and juices.