My name is Sergio Quijada Domínguez and I am 45 years old. I am from Malaga and from a very young age I have had a passion for nature and environmental sustainability. My family instilled in me a love for the countryside and agriculture and since I was a child I enjoyed spending time with my grandparents and parents in the family gardens.
Four years ago, I decided to turn my work life around. It was not an easy choice, but my enthusiasm and passion for developing an activity far from the big city led me to develop a project to grow organic passion fruit supported by my wife and children.
During my life, I have worked in various fields. I started at the age of 17 as part of the Civil Guard but a work accident made it impossible for me to continue with my role in this state security force. In those years I returned to the countryside, and shortly after I started a garden maintenance company. Being an entrepreneur took its toll on me, and due to great stress, in 2015 I had heart problems and went through surgery. I was reborn again.
From then on, I dedicated myself to one of my passions, dogs. I am a professional dog trainer and behaviour modification technician; I came to compete in championships in Spain and Europe with this profession. I also dedicated part of my time and space on the farm to the rescue and recovery of abandoned dogs.
Now I have returned to the agricultural world with this peculiar and exotic fruit. One of the biggest difficulties I encountered was how lost I was when it came to cultivating it, as there are no references to this crop in Europe. This led me to make many mistakes, which have cost me time and money.
I look back now and feel that everything has been worth it. Currently, I probably have the largest European production of organic passion fruit, which I intend to expand in the coming months. I am part of the CrowdFarming project and the Tropiterranean movement, in which I can show all this work. It is an enormous satisfaction that feeds my heart with passion, enthusiasm and a lot of emotion.
After several months of searching, I found a farm that had not been cultivated for more than 10 years. It is located on the coast of the Axarquía of Malaga, in the municipality of Vélez-Málaga (Spain). Its fertile land, its own well of exceptionally good quality water and its perfect orientation instantly made me fall in love. I knew that the Hoyo del Higuerón farm was the ideal one to develop my project.
Our tropical climate prompted me to look for an innovative crop that was different from what is grown in this area. I had a clear idea in my mind, that was to work under the strictest ecological standards having the least environmental impact. One of the main points is the consumption of irrigation water. My parents and grandparents always strongly instilled in me that water resources should be valued and managed in the most efficient and respectful way with Mother Nature.
I have always had the help of my parents who have taught me even more about the secrets and difficulties that we face in agriculture. This work ethic provides harmony with nature, respecting its times and whims and learning every day to continue advancing and improving.
Being an almost unknown crop, it was not an easy start, however today I produce my own passion fruit plants that I myself have selected among those that best adapt to the area. I also carry out transplant work, plant guidance and pruning. I don’t rest until I see a healthy, vigorous and highly productive plant.
The irrigation systems have been set up with the help of my wife and my children, a self-compensated drip irrigation system in which we use the water strictly necessary for the development of our crop. Everything on the farm passes through our hands until we reach the final moment of harvesting the fruit. Once collected, our neighbours, who own a logistic centre very close to the farm, help us with the packaging task. To me, more than neighbours they are practically family.