El Bosque del Batán is a very iconic family farm in the area due to its water source. Its name refers to a hydraulic mechanism dating back to the 12th century, which, by means of the movement of a wheel turned by the flow of water, works the wool to compact it.
The Bosque del Batán covers an area of some 90 hectares, where the predominant crop is olives, with centenary trees of the Verdial variety. It is very close to the village of Baños del Vilo, known for the water that emerges from the spring and has therapeutic properties.
In the centre of the farm is the spring of water (considered to be mineral water), which was once used to move the fulling mill. We also have areas for growing vegetables and fruit trees that are fed by the spring water; these include orange, peach, almond, carob, fig and prickly pear trees. The remaining area, around 70%, is made up of scrub forest and abandoned rain-fed crops. We can also find an old country farmhouse, which we will gradually rebuild next to the fulling mill, in order to relive the history of the farm.
As far as the management of the farm is concerned, our first objective has been to change from conventional to organic farming for the whole farm. It makes perfect sense: this farm is located in the so-called "high Axarquia", a mountainous area where olive trees have traditionally been cultivated in areas of Mediterranean forest for a long time. Maintaining its cultivation, but also providing it with sustainable practices and conservation of the space, is a goal that we have made our own and to which we are committed. To this end, we have developed a diverse agriculture, with different plantations throughout the year. We have also protected the forest and scrubland areas, as they are a refuge for wildlife and beneficial insects to protect us from pests.
The farm had been abandoned for years, so we have set out to restore most of the crops and give it a new agricultural and forestry purpose. For the areas most damaged by erosion, we plan to replant them in order to protect the soil and promote the biodiversity of the environment.
These old farmers were obliged to live on what they grew and raised. They had livestock, vegetable gardens, fruit and olive groves to keep them going all year round. We have put the traditional summer vegetable garden to good use; growing it is just as rewarding as cooking its produce without using greenhouses and free from pesticides.
The water from the spring of the fulling mill is used for its cultivation. Their ecological value is vital to the area, so we only take as much water as we need, while using drip irrigation systems, which help us to save every drop of water.
However, this beautiful area in the north of Málaga, rich in nature and customs, is in a clear process of depopulation. Unemployment is high, as the profitability of traditional crops fails to match production costs. This is why many farms are converting to other, more profitable crops. In our case, the project aims to enhance the value of traditional crops and protect their environmental importance, thereby generating employment for 10-20 people in the area. We already have a stable team of agricultural professionals who have been with us for 4 years. We apply working conditions adapted to their needs, taking the labour agreement as a starting point.
Coming full circle, we use all the by-products from the farm as organic matter to fertilise the soil, or we donate them to our neighbour's goat farm, who in turn gives us his manure to fertilise our trees.