The Hacienda Altos de Cantarriján is a farm nestled in a valley near the Costa Tropical in the province of Granada, Spain. It's located in La Herradura (Granada), a beautiful coastal village between the Mediterranean and the Sierra de Almijara, an area of sea and mountains, with plenty of slopes and ravines. Its name is due to the well-known Cantarriján beach, which receives the streams that form after rainfall. This practically unspoilt natural beach is nestled among cliffs and is very popular in the summer with people keen to get off the beaten track.
Agriculture is the most important economic sector in the region, apart from tourism. This finca used to be somewhat neglected, as for many years it belonged to an investment company that had no relation to the agricultural industry. This company, unable to manage the farm as necessary, met with us and decided to sell it to us, as they fell in love with our project. When my family bought this land, we realised that we had to dedicate a lot of hard work to make progress, as much of the farm had been neglected for a long time. However, this was a truly motivating challenge!
Part of the property was planted with avocados, but most of it was scrubland or covered by Mediterranean forest, which we still preserve today. Our goal was to create a family project with a future vision of sustainable agriculture. We love creating jobs in the region and leaving a positive impact on the environment and on society. We currently grow avocados and mangoes on this finca. My family has other farms in the area. Although we mainly grow mangoes and avocados, we also have traditional crops such as custard apples or newly introduced crops such as guava. Depending on factors such as the ripening process or variety, we may send you fruit from another farm, but it will have been grown according to the same quality standards as at Altos de Cantarriján.
We want to make sustainability our hallmark, as we love this region and want to protect it. We produce food with organic farming techniques, thereby improving the environment and creating wealth. More than ten permanent employees look after the finca throughout the year, a figure which doubles during the harvest period. Employees are paid according to the corresponding collective agreement and some higher-level positions benefit from perks.
The main restriction of the finca is the amount of water required. As is well known, tropical plants need to be watered frequently. We know the area and its climate very well, which is why from the outset we've made every effort to ensure that our main source of water for irrigation is rainwater. Due to the steep slopes and proximity to the sea, water is lost quickly when it rains. We decided to leverage this resource and collect rainwater that would otherwise be wasted. So, when it rains, we direct the water into a collection tank in the lower part of the finca. This water is then pumped into a tank at the top of the farm and then drip-irrigated, so not a single drop is wasted. Each avocado tree needs about 10m³ a year and each mango tree about 2m³, which varies depending on the age of the tree and time of year. At present, we're self-sufficient in water consumption solely with rainwater, although we have a well that we use as a reserve in emergency situations.
The finca covers a large area and even though we grow avocados and mangoes, the largest part of the land is covered by pine groves and Mediterranean forest. We've installed beehives to help the pollination of crops and, in turn, local flora. And it's also common to see wild animals such as mountain goats, wild boars, birds of prey or chameleons.
What's more, Hacienda de Altos de Cantarriján is currently transitioning towards Organic Farming. Whenever possible, we avoid the production of waste. We manage all our plant waste, such as prunings and weeds, and turn them into compost on site. Grasses are removed manually, either by uprooting or mowing them. We make every effort to care for our trees so that very little fruit is discarded, although if it's very ripe and can't be sent to our customers, we send it to the local market or donate it to charitable organisations.