Do you know the Macabeo variety of grapes? Well, this variety lent its name to the land we cultivate today, Finca Macabeo. When my grandfather used to work on this land, he had a vineyard with this variety of grape. The plants were eventually uprooted twenty years ago, as they were old and didn't adapt well to the soil, which resulted in zero yield. The pear trees then took their place, adapting perfectly to the climate and soil of Jumilla.
I remember my grandfather running that small farm as ‘organic’ without even knowing it, he applied traditional farming techniques that aren't far from what we now know as organic. The farm was then passed down to my father, which meant I had direct contact with it and with farming, so I decided that this was the profession I wanted to pursue.
After this first farm, we started to lease and then buy nearby plots of land, eventually ending up with the forty hectares that we have today. The farm is located in the south of Jumilla, Murcia, in an area known as Cañada del Judio. We're surrounded by biodynamic olive trees and organic vineyards that are used to produce the magnificent Jumilla wines.
To acknowledge the early days of the farm, I decided to set aside five hectares for the cultivation of grapes in conversion to organic, choosing the Itumfifteen and Itumseventeen varieties. They're located in an area of Jumilla called El Morrón, which is named after a nearby gypsum mountain with weird and wonderful forms.
Our village lives off agriculture, thanks to the fame of the wines and the Protected Designation of Origin 'Pera de Jumilla' for the pears. It's currently the largest production area of this fruit in Spain and in Europe, with about 932 hectares allocated to this crop. In this sense, we owe a lot to the local climate and soil. The sunny Mediterranean climate, the day-night temperature contrast and the limestone soils are essential for the optimal development and quality of pears and grapes.
However, we went one step further and decided to change our way of farming to a more natural and environmentally friendly approach, even though this involved more work, dedication and perseverance. When we started growing organic pears in 2008, it was a bit complicated at first because there weren't many organic farms that we could use as a reference, especially around here. What's more, it was difficult to find the support of even our closest friends and family to launch the project.
Even lesser known was biodynamic agriculture, which we bravely decided to adopt in 2014. Luckily, I was convinced that it would be a winning move, as I've always believed in constancy. This led me to the point I am at now where I can see the great results of each of the organic farming techniques that we've been applying over the years.
Seeing that these changes were really positive, in 2020 we decided to apply them to the land used for table grapes, where we're currently in conversion to organic and biodynamic. We hope to complete this conversion in 2023.
At Finca Macabeo we grow flat peaches, nectarines, Ercolina pears, table grapes and olives, giving each fruit the time and attention it needs, because we believe that this is key to a good product.
The water we use to irrigate Finca Macabeo comes from the wells of irrigation communities. Using localised drip irrigation, we apply about 4,500 litres per pear tree and 6,000 litres per vine, as needed according to the planting distance. We're aware that our farm is located in a semi-desert area, so we take full advantage of the water.
We always try to improve our agricultural techniques and irrigation projects through partnerships with various research institutions, such as CEBAS (The Segura Centre of Edaphology and Applied Biology) or IMIDA (Murcian Institute of Agrarian and Environmental Research and Development).
Finca Macabeo is a biodynamic farm where we let spontaneous vegetation grow as much as possible and where we highly value vegetation with flowers. We make a selection with the manual brush cutter, and we take special care when leaving native weeds with flowers (which are the most interesting for feeding insects) and we remove invasive ones. WOn top of that we've planted hedges around our entire farm to encourage biodiversity.
We don't use lots of energy on our farm, so we haven't yet managed to generate our own and use renewable energy, but we've had the idea in mind for a while and we're working to tailor it to the needs of our farm.
There are twelve of us working on the project now, most having spent more than ten years at the farm. We collaborate with my brother, who helps us when handling and packaging the fruit. We believe that it's vital for there to be a good working environment, a work-life balance and a decent salary. I believe that this is the key to workers being happy in their day-to-day work. We're one of them.
The pears that we send are always fresh and organic fruit of high quality. Any unsuitable fruit is used for livestock or for our composting plant, where we use wastewater leachates and shredded pruning remains to make the perfect compost for the soils of our crops.