Finca El Poleo is located in the small village of Granja de Torrehermosa (which lies in the province of Badajoz bordering Córdoba), which was traditionally a cereal farming village but has recently been badly hit by rural depopulation. When you break down the name in Spanish, you can see why it's nicknamed the village of the three lies, because it's not a farm (granja), it doesn't have a tower (torre) and it isn't beautiful (hermosa)!
Farmers used to call a pond near the farm Charca El Poleo, because pennyroyal (poleo) naturally flourished near the pond (charca). This pond is very close to our farm, hence the name Finca El Poleo.
This farm is our favourite and also our flagship. We'll allocate all its production to CrowdFarming, but we'll use the harvest of the other farms in our project if necessary. Don't worry, though, as they all follow exactly the same quality standards and you'll always receive your fruit on time. Finca El Poleo was initially an olive grove, a crop that my family have spent years working with. But this farm without conventional fruit crops made me think that it was ideal for growing organic fruit, so I decided to change some olive trees for fruit trees in the quest for the perfect balance between fruit farming, olive growing and the natural environment.
Finca El Poleo has an area of 83 hectares divided between olive groves and stone fruits. In the fruit part, we grow plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots and flat peaches. The fruit farm has a somewhat unusual layout, following the contour lines of the land, with wider rows than usual in fruit farming, which means that the trees can retain water better and that we can reduce irrigation needs by preventing serious water runoff that would also erode the land.
In order to increase biodiversity in our crops, we leave plant cover on the ground and keep around 12-15% of the farm uncultivated. When the hot months come around, we mow the grass on alternate rows, incorporating the mowed grass as mulch, which helps us reduce evaporation-related water loss and optimise irrigation efficiency.
We have four wells on our farm, but we only use one of them. To minimise water consumption, we drip-irrigate all our trees with two short waterings per day. In the hot season (May-September), each tree consumes approximately 16 liters of water per day.
To understand our work on the farm, we should look at the production calendar. Once the harvest is over, we conduct green pruning to help us aerate the tree and give more light to future fruits, which will have a very positive influence on ripening. We then start dry trimming, which defines the branches that will bear fruit in the following season. These winter jobs are supplemented by regular composting with humus and manure. Once spring comes, we leave the trees to flower and be pollinated by our bees and other insects, which then forms the fruits. Afterwards, we thin out the trees several times, reducing the number of pieces of fruit per tree to guarantee the right level of ripening. After all that, it's time to collect the fruit.
We prepare the fruit and the orders at our facilities in Puebla de la Calzada, a village near the farm. These facilities are fitted with solar panels that provide an energy self-sufficiency of approximately 60%. To minimise food waste, we use edible but unmarketable fruit for the baby food and juice industry. Meanwhile, we use decaying fruit to feed our worms, which we'll later take to the crop so that they decompose organic matter on the ground and the sheep manure, which creates the best natural fertiliser for our trees.
Our permanent workforce is made up of about ten people, some of whom have been with us for more than seven years. This figure reaches up to one hundred at harvest time, which is when we need more workers. All staff are contracted according to the collective agreement and we offer our workers flexible hours to achieve a work-life balance. To certify our commitment to our staff, we hold the Global Grasp certificate.