Our plantation is located in the heart of the Costa Tropical in Granada, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Sierra Nevada to the north. The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range with the highest peaks on the Spanish mainland. It's home to a National Park Biosphere Reserve and Europe's southernmost ski resort. This mountain range protects us from the cold of the north in winter and guarantees a subtropical microclimate that is unique in Europe. The area is called Costa Tropical as there are no major changes between daytime and night-time temperatures, or all year round, which make our avocados a local product of exceptional quality.
The La Reala finca takes its name from our family farm that is over one hundred years old. Reala (which can also be written as Rehala) comes from Arabic and means a “herd of flocks”, in which a single shepherd takes care of the livestock of several owners. It refers to the ancient grazing culture of the area. This farm was bought by my family at the end of the 1970s and stands at the top of the finca, but today it's not inhabited. My family lived there back in the day and today you can see a large chunk of the avocado plantation and the Mediterranean Sea.
La Reala is located in the town of Motril, capital of the Costa Tropical. In addition to the avocado plantation, there are organic mango and olive groves. The entire finca stretches over three hundred hectares. Some forty hectares of trees are actively cultivated (avocado, mango and olive groves) and a further twenty hectares of avocados will enter into production in 2022. The rest of the finca is pine forest and Mediterranean scrubland, which is home to an array of local species such as red partridges, hares, wild boar, mountain goats, hawks, owls, etc. The pine forest is located in the north, in the upper part. To the south of the finca are two seaside towns, Calahonda and Carchuna, which mainly live off the greenhouse farming of cucumbers.
Meanwhile, the entire region mainly lives off the farming of tropical trees (avocado, cherimoya and mango) or protected crops. Agricultural activity in the area is labour-intensive and there's practically no unemployment. Agriculture creates a lot of business both in the field and at fruit and vegetable processing plants.
The first avocado trees in La Reala were planted more than thirty years ago and the area dedicated to this fruit has been growing ever since. An olive grove was planted about ten years ago to produce olive oil, while several areas of Kent mango were planted five years ago, with both being organically cultivated from the outset.
The water used for crop irrigation comes from Sierra Nevada snowmelt. This water is stored in the Rules dam and reaches the farm through the pipes of the Motril-Carchuna Irrigation Community. The plantation's need for water depends on the time of year and the weather. In the rainy season, there are periods of up to three weeks in which the trees are not watered. In summer, which is dry and hot in the area, between fifty and one hundred litres of water are needed per tree per day, depending on the age and size of the plant. All the trees are watered with a drip irrigation system and the finca has several irrigation tanks and automated irrigation heads to make the most of every last drop of water.
The entire finca is managed under organic farming guidelines, which favours native fauna. No phytosanitary products are used in the plantation. Weeds that grow around the trees are removed by mechanical means (brush cutter). There's a whole host of wild flora around the crops (thyme, rosemary, gorse, pine) that fosters the development of a healthy ecosystem of insects and animal species such as hare, partridge, wild boar, etc. The remains of pruning and damaged fruit are left to form compost on site and then used as organic fertiliser.
La Reala employs around twelve people for irrigation, weed control or pruning tasks, with some of them having worked for the company for more than twenty years. Jobs are created in the cooperative that vary depending on the time of year. All workers receive salaries according to the applicable collective agreement and this is corroborated by GRASP certification. We lay on transport to the finca and provide accommodation for new workers from other areas while they look for their own home. The number of jobs increases in the harvesting campaign. The harvested fruit is packed in the cooperative with the harvests of the other cooperative members, which creates jobs for a great deal of families. All these fincas receive technical advice from the cooperative's agronomists and are certified organic.
On our finca we have photovoltaic panels for pumping and irrigation water. The roof of the cooperative where we box the fruit is also covered by photovoltaic solar panels, which produce much of the energy needed to prepare the fruit.
Avocados produce fruits of different sizes and shapes, all of which are used and included in your box. The workers in the field and at the cooperative check the quality of the fruit. Any fruit that can't be shipped is donated to local food banks.