Cortijo Ana Maria is located in the small town of Pizarra (Málaga) and has belonged to the family since 2014. We bought it as a melon farm, but we then planted all the trees that you can find here now. The farm covers a total of 108 hectares, of which 60 are used for growing lemons, 28 for oranges, 5 for grapefruits and 4 for mandarins.
The name is a tribute to my mother-in-law Ana Maria, mother of David and José Luis. Our houses are also located on the land, alongside the crop plantations, as is our logistics centre, where we prepare the boxes to send the fruit to your home. It's located in the fertile valley of the Guadalhorce River, an area with decades of citrus-growing tradition. There are lots of lemon and orange groves along the banks of the river. All the trees are drip-irrigated with water obtained from the Guadalhorce River reservoir, which is a few kilometres upstream. However, we also have wells that we use for emergency situations. The average water consumption at the farm is 7 hm3 per hectare per year, and 416 trees are planted in each hectare. By letting the grass grow, we help the rainwater infiltrate the land to refill the aquifers. When we cut the grass and prune the trees, we leave the organic matter on the soil to protect it. This also turns into compost, which increases the biodiversity and fertility of the soil. We also monitor the diversity of insects to control pests with organic methods, if necessary, while in the flowering season we install beehives to enhance this diversity.
The family has two other farms, one in Antequera, Málaga (Finca Alcobilla) and the other in Lora del Río, Seville (Cortijo La Palmosa), both certified with the organic farming logo and planted with citrus fruits. The various locations of the farms provide us with different harvest times, thereby lengthening the season. This means that even if your tree is adopted at Cortijo Ana María, your fruit may come from one of the other farms.
Ten people work permanently at Cortejo Ana Maria. And as the logistics centre is based here, we employ a further twenty-five people during the campaign to prepare boxes and orders, both for CrowdFarming members and other customers. Preparing CrowdFarming orders is a bit more complex as it involves more work than selling the fruit to wholesalers. Out of the thirty-five people we employ on the farm (this number may vary depending on the campaign), twenty-five are women and ten are men. The workers tend to return every year and have a decent salary, in line with the Málaga agricultural collective agreement. Some receive performance-related incentives.
Both my husband David and my brother-in-law work every day on overseeing the work on the land and at the logistics centre, which means that we can guarantee the quality of our products. Maria José and I take care of the administration and auditing. We've always been passionately convinced to the idea of organic farming, meaning that we can grow crops like our ancestors used to. We're committed to sustainability in order to provide consumers with products of an exceptional quality.
We hand-select the fruit on the land and then check it over in the logistics centre, making sure to only send out pieces that meet our quality standards. Any fruit unsuitable for delivery is set aside for the production of juice. And if there's any that the juice industry refuses, it is given to local farmers to feed their goats and sheep.