Finca Casa Cañada gets its name from the times of the “Mesta”, when in the XI century sheep had great economic importance in our country. The export of wool and the Castilian manufacture of cloths caused the transhumance of herds throughout Spain. These areas of the passage of shepherds and sheep were known as cattle routes and today, give the name to our farm, which saw thousands of sheep pass by.
Our farm is in the municipality of Villamalea, about 10 km from the urban centre, in the province of Albacete. The plantation of pistachio, almond, jujube, acerole, cermeña (small pear) and olive is surrounded by Mediterranean forest and thicket. In addition, we have a naturalised collection of hedges of more than 250 species native to the Iberian Peninsula.
We are in the surroundings of the Natural Park of the Hoces (gorges) of the Cabriel River, with the largest wild canyon in the Iberian Peninsula (about 30 km, with no roads or paths). Here live faunal species such as the otter, the genet, the wildcat, the mountain goat... which makes our farm a unique place.
Today, our region enjoys good economic health because the agricultural property is very distributed in medium-sized farms. In Casa Cañada we were the first producers in our region in Biodynamic farming, due to which we have contributed to its dynamization. Presently, many farmers have transformed their cereal and vineyard crops into the cultivation of pistachio or almond trees.
At Casa Cañada we are proud to be a family business and continue our grandparents' passion for agriculture, who cultivated these lands of vineyards and cereals. In recent years, we have been replacing the vineyard and cereal with almond, pistachio, and native forest species.
We are committed to extensive dry land farming. We want to combat today's biggest agri-environmental problem: the consumption of groundwater to produce fruits that have always been grown under dry land farming methods, such as pistachio, almond, or olive. Rainfall in our area is about 350 mm per year and our trees live with this amount. However, our forest nursery needs water for the development of younger plants. To do this, we have designed a water accumulation system using small dams. Our inspiration came by discovering in our farm Arab vestiges of water use.
The agricultural management on our farm is carried out under the certifications of Organic farming (CAAE), Biodynamic farming (DEMETER) and Bio-Integral farming (ARBORIGEN). In this way, we carry out sustainable agriculture that seeks the balance between the natural environment and the intervention of man in it. We apply our principles starting from the roots, using as rootstocks traditional native varieties that survive in dry land agriculture.
We want to take care of our soil and for this we let the grass grow for 4 months a year. The remaining months the scarce rains in our area force us to reduce the presence of weeds through several shallow ploughs. Thus, we avoid competition between our crops with the other plants and guarantee a good harvest. In addition, with the ploughing we incorporate the grass into the soil as organic fertilizer and improve the water absorption capacity. We are currently experimenting with legume plant covers, although we have not definitively implemented this system.
My journey in Casa Cañada started with a forest nursery, so we have never lost sight of the importance of maintaining the original flora and fauna of the area and the Iberian Peninsula. By restoring botanical-forestry of borders, hedges, slopes, road boundaries and marginal areas of the farm we promote habitat creation for insectivorous bird and small predatory mammals that control potential pests. In our farm you can find a minimum of 20 different species of trees and shrubs native to the Iberian Peninsula.
On our farm we do not have renewable energies because we do not need irrigation pumps or other machinery, we do not consume any energy. In addition, we are zero waste, taking advantage of any by-product or waste that can be generated on our farm. The remains of pruning, exocarps, and shells are composted and serve as nutrients for our crops. On the other hand, pistachios and almonds of smaller calibre or pieces are used to produce pastes, oils, and turrons.
The selection of the best product for our CrowdFarmers is done by relying on an external company, that is certified in Organic and Demeter. Thus, with the best technology, we separate impurities and empty fruits through blowers and classify the fruit by calibres using optical technology. Finally, a team of women makes the final visual inspection of our farm ensuring that there is no fruit that does not fulfill our quality parameters.
Our team consists of six fix people, reaching up to 25 people in the harvest season, and this is how we contribute against the rural exodus that hits the rural areas of our country. Some have been with us since the start of the project in 1990. All our workers receive a salary according to the collective agreement. As a family business, we are flexible and do not mind extending our workers' paid leave period if they need it.