More than thirty years ago, a company started growing kiwis in the Baztan-Bidasoa Valley, in the north of Navarra. In 2000, when my husband Lander graduated in Agricultural Engineering, he began his professional life with this crop. After several years there, the company was dissolved and several farms were abandoned. This made us think, as we knew the crop well and were passionate about its cultivation, that we could continue this adventure independently and much more sustainably, in keeping with our own principles. So, in 2006 we created a new five-hectare plantation, and in 2008, Lander, my cousin Joseba and I joined forces to form the company KiBBi SAT (kiwis from Baztan-Bidasoa) to cultivate and manage sixteen hectares of kiwis spread over several plots in the Baztan-Bidasoa Valley.
Baztan-Bidasoa is a valley with an agricultural and livestock tradition whose inhabitants have changed their way of life in recent years by looking for jobs in the metal industry and other occupations. However, some locals still have a passion for agriculture and livestock, and run fruit or vegetable farms or manage cows and sheep that graze around the villages.
The valley is renowned for its farmhouses and meadows, its oak and beech forests, its rivers and its hiking trails, which make it a privileged environment for nature lovers. Rainfall is very abundant here and keeps the entire landscape green, even on our farms where grass grows on the land between our trees. This abundance of water and our proximity to the Bidasoa River mean that have more water than we need. Despite watering our plants in the summer with micro-sprinklers when needed, we've never run out of the water that the confederation allocates to us.
Work on the farm is very varied, with the weather giving us surprises every year. This makes our profession dynamic and exciting, but also very hard. This includes accepting that just one frost can make us lose almost all our harvest or heading out to prune the plants in the cold and humidity of winter. Despite all this, though, it's exciting to be a farmer and grow this fascinating plant.
Trying to combat the grass by ploughing or using herbicides doesn't make sense in this valley where rainfall is so abundant, so we treat it as an ally. We mow it several times in the spring and summer, and we leave the clippings on the soil so that it gradually becomes organic mulch, which in turn prevents evapotranspiration. Any substandard fruit, which is minimal, is used for juices and jams, while the fruits removed during thinning and the pruning remains are incorporated into the soil as organic matter.
The three of us actively work on the project, but we wouldn't cope without the rest of the team, who work with us all year: María Jesús, her son Asier, Vicente, Andoni and Jaime.