My name's José Antonio Fajardo and I'm a young farmer and university student. Although I'm only twenty years old, I belong to a family of farmers and I'm the fifth generation, both on my father's and my mother's sides.
My great-grandparents were from Otivar and Jete, two small towns on the Costa Tropical in Granada. This was where tropical fruits were first cultivated in continental Europe. As a homage, there's a delicious variety of cherimoya known as the Fino de Jete. If you don't know it, I recommend trying it if you can. It's not very common outside Spain, but is nicknamed the 'fruit yoghurt' thanks to its sweetness and creamy texture.
My grandparents and great-grandparents used to grow vines, almond trees and olive trees on the dryland slopes and sugar cane on the valley floors, where there was more water. In the mid-twentieth century, following the decline of sugarcane cultivation in the region, they decided to start growing subtropical fruits.
In the 1950s and 1960s, subtropical fruits were unknown in the region. My ancestors started to experiment with the cultivation of avocados and cherimoyas, becoming pioneers in the growth of subtropical crops, which are now quite commonplace in the region. The family still owns the original fincas and takes care of the trees they planted. We've been looking after them for seventy years now, with the same love that they put into planting them. Over time, we've acquired more fincas and now we grow a whole host of fruits, with the main ones being avocados, mangoes, cherimoyas and oranges, although we also have small plots with Orinoco bananas (a local variety) and guavas.
As to be expected, my passion for agriculture comes from childhood, as it has always been the core focus of my maternal and paternal family. I'm fully aware of the importance of education to ensure the optimal management of fincas, which is why I'm currently studying Economics with a view to gaining knowledge for myself and conveying it to the family.
On seeing my passion for the land, my parents asked me to manage this CrowdFarming project. The Altos de Cantarriján and Finca Valdivieso projects were created to be modern farms, where we can showcase our way of working and transfer this model of agriculture to other farmers. These farms were acquired by the family less than ten years ago. For two years now, I've been responsible for their management, always listening to the advice of a wonderful team made up by agronomists and employees, who are just like family as they've seen me grow up. And, of course, I'm lucky to count on the experience and love of my parents!
My main goal is to refresh the approach that traditional agriculture has in the region. I'd like more young producers to see Hacienda Altos de Cantarriján and Finca Valdivieso as models of sustainable management. I'm convinced that organic farming, sustainable food production techniques, the circular economy of resources, the optimised use of water and new relationships with consumers will be the inspiration for the new generations of farmers. We need to change the production model. All these agricultural practices will mark a before and after in climate change, which concerns me so much on a personal level. I'm also convinced that in a few years' time the fincas that I manage will be better and that I'll have contributed to leaving a better world behind for future generations. CrowdFarming provides me with the opportunity to make this dream come true, as I believe in and share all the values that this platform offers to consumers across Europe.
All my free time and holidays are spent on the farm. Time definitely flies by when I'm focused on working the land. When I can't be on the farm due to my studies, I call the foremen to ask how the harvest is going and help them with any jobs.
Last but not least, I'd like to highlight my relationship with one of the people I admire the most: my grandfather. His name is also José Antonio Fajardo. He's the best reference I've ever had and has instilled in me an unconditional love for the land, for hard work and for things well done. I can't remember a single day in my childhood that I didn't want to spend with him going around farms, solving problems with the crops and watching the fruit grow. I've spent a lot of time with him, ever since my first steps as a toddler. Although I see him less now, I spend time with him whenever I can. He motivates me to fight for what I want and to do business well. In short, he's the perfect example of a lifestyle that I love and want to keep up.