Finca La Alcobilla is nestled between the villages of Valle de Abdalajís and La Joya, both belonging to the fertile Vega Antequerana region (Málaga, Spain). It's very close to the stunning Torcal de Antequera Nature Park, famous for its incredible scenery. The finca covers about 60 ha and is used for different varieties of citrus fruit, such as oranges (22 ha), lemons (20 ha), mandarins (16 ha) and grapefruits (2 ha).
It's a family-run farm, having been inherited by my father-in-law from his parents. It's called Alcobilla because of the name of its farmhouse, where my husband and his brothers have lived since they were little. Although we now have other farms, this was the one that set us up in the agricultural industry and that served as a school for us to learn how to grow citrus fruit. When my father-in-law inherited the finca, most of it was dedicated to rainfed crops such as cereals or almond trees. Afterwards, he spent some time growing vegetables on the land, while my husband and his brother transformed it into a citrus farm when we took it over from their father. It's surrounded by other cereal farms and livestock farms.
We currently employ three people on a permanent basis. Two of them have been with us since 2015 and take care of the trees and harvest the fruit. At harvest time, this number can increase to sixty people, all of them locals and friends from my hometown, Valle de Abdalajís. My husband and his brother David supervise the everyday work of our staff in order to guarantee the quality of our products. The workers earn a decent salary in keeping with the Málaga agricultural collective agreement and some receive incentives according to the work done.
On our finca, we irrigate with water that comes from a well. We also have a tank where we collect rainwater. We have a drip irrigation system to take as much advantage of the water as possible. By letting the grass grow, we help the rainwater infiltrate the land to refill the aquifers. Depending on the weather conditions in a certain year, the amount of water that each tree needs may change, with an annual average of 7,500 litres required per tree.
Our farm has been certified organic since 2008. We're committed to sustainability in order to provide consumers with products of an exceptional quality. We control the grass with brush cutters, as its presence favours the health of the soil and the ecosystem. We also monitor the diversity of insects to control pests with organic methods, if necessary, while in the flowering season we install beehives to enhance this diversity.
We hand-select the fruit on the land and then check it over in the warehouse, making sure to only send out pieces that meet our quality standards. Any fruit unsuitable for delivery is set aside for the production of juice. We don't have specific composting areas on the farm, but we do crush all the pruning remains and the grass to feed the soil and recycle the nutrients.