The Nevero farm is located in the south-east of Spain, at the foot of the Sierra del Segura. It is surrounded by other olive groves, almond trees and farmland, pine trees and Mediterranean scrubland (esparto grass, thyme, rosemary, gorse).
The region where the olive grove is located, the Campos de Hellín, is an agricultural area in the south-eastern Spain with a semi-arid climate, with very harsh winters, dry summers with very high temperatures. It was formerly a very prosperous region thanks to the esparto grass industry, but upon the arrival of synthetic fibres the entire industry disappeared, significantly affecting the region.
Since commencing the project in 2014, we have had a very clear objective: that our oils convey and represent their environment and care, to bring consumers closer to the cultivation and the region where these oils are produced, and not just as a mere commodity. We are committed to this region as we believe that it has certain distinctive characteristics which in turn lead to the oil possessing certain unique qualities.
Before, it was an old farm of an extensively cultivated crop which was converted to olive groves, a traditional crop in the region, approximately 20 years ago, taking advantage of the available groundwater. I am well aware that water is a limited and very scarce resource in our region, a reason why I have always tried to optimise its use. We use a drip irrigation system with an accumulation reservoir. In addition, we have a photovoltaic energy plant and we monitor irrigation thanks to precision agricultural technologies using humidity sensors, which help us to know when, how and how much water to apply to our crops. We estimate that our olive grove needs approximately 2000 m3 of water per hectare per year.
Four years ago, we commenced the conversion to organic farming, and yielded the first organic production harvest in 2019. This change will be in line with our approach to sustainability: economic (make a profitable business), social (generate a positive impact on the area) and environmental (care and respect for our environment). One of my greatest concerns is our soil, a resource that is not ours, which we have to maintain and preserve for future generations. Maintaining green cover all year round and clearing scrub at specific times to avoid competition for water with the crop. These soil covers likewise assist in having the presence of auxiliary entomofauna that aids in having a better balance in the different animal populations that live on the farm. There are similarly certain areas on the farm with no crops and the bordering areas of scrubland that serve as a refuge for the animals. Insects are one of the smallest cogs in the ecosystem chain, without insects the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems would collapse.
Four people participate in this project throughout the year. In times of increased workload, mainly in tasks such as pruning or harvesting, we hire local people, to generate a positive impact on the region.
In general, the day-to-day work on the farm can be described as follows. I am in charge of the technical management both in the field as well as in the oil mill, and I also manage the commercial side of things. José is our field manager, he is in charge of coordinating all the work so that our olive trees always have the care they require. To that end he is assisted by Pedro, who helps him with all these tasks. Carolina is responsible for quality control during the harvest campaign.
Insofar as harvest residues are concerned, for olives, practically everything can be used. From the beginning we have tried to close the cycle, aiming to minimise dependence on external resources. Elsewhere, we use the leaf together with the pomace to make compost. And we separate the stone and sell it separately as biomass. With the olive, if you know how to use it, nothing is wasted.