La Gitanilla is the name of our tropical fruit project on CrowdFarming, in tribute to my great-grandmother. The bulk of our plots are in La Axarquía, a region located in the east of the province of Málaga in southern Spain, where these crops have been grown for more than fifty years now thanks to the excellent climate and the innovative spirit of many farmers.
We mainly grow avocados and mangoes, but we like to investigate other exotic crops to learn about their potential, their idiosyncrasies and their farming techniques, and in the process to enjoy their variety of flavours. As a result, we also grow papayas and dragon fruits to give to our friends and family, and for our own consumption.
The agricultural past of La Axarquía is linked to dryland farming, with crops such as vines, olive trees and almond trees. Some of these small farms are still around today, but some are part of the mountains that have been abandoned, and which are regenerating together with Mediterranean vegetation. There are several of these farms near us and they even form part of the biodiversity. We enjoy views of the Mediterranean Sea, which plays an important role in regulating the climate and providing mild temperatures all year round.
Our surroundings are an example of agricultural innovation, thanks to the hard work of farmers, research centres and companies dedicated to providing solutions to enhance production, especially for all of us involved in organic farming.
The agricultural history of La Gitanilla is linked to my ancestors. It all started with the cultivation of vegetables around the Vélez river. My great-grandparents and grandparents worked the land here to support their families. Thanks to their hard work, my father and his siblings were able to study and then start their own businesses that take us up to the present day.
All our farms have state-of-the-art technology when it comes to managing water resources. The sprinkler heads are configured to analyse climate conditions and the crop's needs, thereby providing the right amount of water. The water comes from irrigation communities that are fed by authorised wells and from the reserves of the La Viñuela reservoir. What's more, we have feeder pools that collect rainwater for its subsequent use.
We rigorously monitor our plantations to be on top of their nutritional status throughout the crop cycle, so we do everything possible to make sure that they don't suffer from nutritional deficiencies and that the right amount of fertiliser is being used. We take great care of the soil microbiota to guarantee its balance and ensure that the soil itself provides the plant with many of the nutrients it needs, as well as protecting it naturally against diseases and harmful microorganisms.
I love observing the huge environmental diversity on the farm after so many years working organically. What's more, we encourage this diversity by taking some small measures with huge results, such as having small 'natural pools' so that rabbits have easy access to water, having tree areas that protect and encourage wildlife, piling up large stones that serve as shelter for rabbits, and building insect hotels in trees.
As for our workers, we've had a reliable and stable six-person strong team for years now. They all have extensive experience and know perfectly well how to do all the jobs required. We believe that it's important to take care of our employees and attend to their needs, with fair wages and all the flexibility needed to fit in with their family circumstances.
Our quality philosophy is that we like to sell fruit that we'd give to our best friends and family. This calls for a significant investment in human resources, knowledge and experience, but only then do we feel comfortable by making our customers happy. Any fruit that fails to pass our criteria is used to produce our own homemade jam and guacamole.