The Canary Islands are water, sky, sun and soil. Water, because we're surrounded by it. We're an archipelago far from the Spanish mainland and Europe, but united by the sea. Water also because the trade winds bring us the necessary moisture that condenses and makes it possible to grow banana trees. Sky, because we're one of the best places in the world for stargazing, and because we have a huge amount of sunlight which produces energy thanks to the photosynthetic process. Soil, because our islands are of volcanic origin, which makes them packed with minerals.
Being on a crop-growing boundary is always a risk and also a challenge. A risk both due to the low temperatures and the wind. We also have years with huge difficulties, forcing us to channel lots of effort into keeping the banana industry in production. And a challenge because we want to convey to our customers all the hard work and meticulous care behind each banana harvested.
In the Canary Islands, it's very strange to find large farms. This fact, together with the distance from the Spanish mainland, makes it practically impossible for farmers to survive without joining forces to sell their fruit. That's why forty-three farmers decided to set up a banana producers' organisation back in 1992, and which today has more than seven hundred members. We know well that together we're stronger and that our enthusiasm to innovate and find more sustainable production and marketing models should be detached from traditional models reluctant to change.
Finca La Mocanera is located in the village of Mazo, on the small and volcanic island of La Palma (also known as the Isla Bonita), and owes its name to a beautiful tree near the farm, the mocano, a species endemic to our islands. Thanks to its beauty, it being the typical farm in terms of size and management, and because on La Mocanera to be the farm to represent us at CrowdFarming.
My name's Luz and I mainly grow bananas - along with some dragon fruit - here on this farm that has always belonged to my partner's family. This combination of banana with other crops is quite commonplace among farmers. We also have other species, such as the Canary aeonium and other native plants, that we let grow on the farms because they help us maintain an ecosystem with huge biodiversity.
Although La Mocanera is the farm that represents us all in this project, all the partners cultivate the farms following the same organic farming methods provide you with organic bananas all year round, always with a premium quality and grown with respect for the environment.
There are four islands in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma and Tenerife, and it's on the latter two where we have all our plots of land. We're at the closest point to continental Europe where bananas can be grown, which has made them one of the cornerstones of the Canarian economy ever since their cultivation became widespread in the nineteenth century.
Banana trees are usually watered by the sprinkler irrigation method, which is the best system for the plants, so it is the method we use at La Mocanera. The plants are currently watered every twelve and a half days, for fifteen minutes in winter and thirty in summer. Banana plants suffer both from underwatering and overwatering, so we need to be careful and provide the exact amount required. Meters are currently being installed on our farms to better understand and adjust water consumption.
We adapt our agricultural practices to the requirements of the Organic Agriculture Council, which certifies the farms from which we send your bananas. What's more, with the aim of being more sustainable, we minimise the use of phytosanitary treatments, we leave plant coverings favourable to the crop, and we manually remove any harmful ones. We make a cover crop with pine leaves to act as a mulch, we protect the roots of the plants with decomposing leaves, we fertilise the plants with our own organic preparations based on goat dung, and we fight pests using pheromone traps for palm weevils and regular spraying for whiteflies.
Meanwhile, if we find any substandard fruit, we shred it to make compost for farmers to reuse as fertiliser for their farms. That said, there is very little substandard fruit at the moment.
More than forty farmers are partners in our organic company. On top of that, there's a great team that supports us in technical aspects, administration, harvest planning and transport. What's more, all our staff are highly qualified and are employed with conditions above and beyond those set in the collective agreement.