I am grandma Magdalena, Magdalena Bonillo. My sons, Jose Carlos and Candido, came up with the name. We started planting the trees on the farm the same year my granddaughter was born. In recognition of my new title as a grandmother, thanks to her, we decided to name our project 'La Abuela Magdalena'.
The farm is located in an area of scrubland where there are old olive and almond plantations. The predominant natural species is esparto, which was used by local artisans to make household utensils and for farm work. My family used the land to grow carobs, a staple food for livestock, and barley to make flour.
Today, the agriculture in the area has changed dramatically. In the surroundings there are quite a few citrus groves, which are mostly lemon trees. We opted for tangerines to break away from tradition. My son Candido, who is an agricultural engineer, has helped a lot with setting up our project. He has a great deal of experience in the innovation that is proving successful in the region.
Thanks to the contribution of professionals like my son, Arboleas and its surrounding areas are starting to be able to reverse a catastrophic trend: the migration of our children in search of opportunities. The inland villages need new initiatives and investment from those who live in the cities and affluent areas in order to preserve our heritage.
The water for our farm is obtained from a community of irrigators, which has a well in the fertile plain of the Almanzora river. Naturally, we make the most of every drop of water based on my son's analysis of the crops' water requirements and the characteristics of the soil. For this purpose, we install self-compensating drippers that deliver the exact amount of water required.
Another innovation introduced by my son was the cultivation method we are using. He is well aware of the consequences of some practices versus others, as well as the advantages they offer for the soil, environment, and budget. Therefore, in 2020 we started the process of cultivating our tangerine trees organically. The journey so far has not been too difficult. Common knowledge and history already put into practice many of the techniques that today appear as novel and revolutionary, although it does explain to us the reasoning behind everything. The grasses are home to insects that protect the trees from pests and diseases; they also protect the soil from erosion. Larger pests, such as fruit flies, end up in traps. We give the soil "life" through the incorporation of organic matter from logging and manure. In general, preventive agriculture helps us not to use pesticides.
The work on the farm is carried out by all members of the family. These days I do less rather than more. It is my children who take the initiative and arrange for everything to go smoothly. One of my continued responsibilities though, is that during the harvesting season I make sure that all the fruit is sold, and those that do not meet the minimum quality criteria are given away to family and friends.