~ From soil to sky ~
Many modern-day methods integrated in agroecology and organic farming have been derived from the collective knowledge of farmers from all corners of the globe. The use of these techniques in cultivation is done so in a bid for products of high quality, in terms of both health benefits and flavour.
Fertilisation of the soil
~A sustainable system~
Arable soil is an ecosystem in itself. The correct management of this ecosystem is fundamental in achieving a sustainable system of agriculture. Keeping the soil alive assures its fertility and sustainability in the long term, the key to this being its content of organic matter. For this reason we use shredded plant trimmings, crop leftovers, ground cover, manure and compost. No unnecessary work is carried out on the soil and we encourage the development of mycorrhizae (symbiosis between fungi and roots) – the soil’s natural bio-fertiliser.
Hedges increase biological diversity and in this way they have a positive influence on pest control, since they serve as a habitat for birds, along with other predators and parasites. Over the 20th century, a large number of wild plants have disappeared from farming areas. This simplification of the agricultural landscape is now recognised as one of the principal causes of the worsening problems with agricultural pests. In our cultivation areas, our individual fields are surrounded by protective hedges. These are made up of over 20 species, including flowers, aromatics, medicinal plants and other native species. There is never a moment when something is not in flower.
Knowledge of the need to rotate crops dates back to the very origins of agriculture. In order to maintain soil fertility, the soil was allowed to rest following the harvest. Later on, the system evolved with the introduction of new crops, and it became necessary to learn about and combine their characteristics in order to keep the soil fertile. In terms of plant health, an absence of these rotations will lead to an increase of pests and disease. It also leads to one of the most common pathologies found in modern-day intensive monoculture: soil fatigue.
Crop association is one of the most effective techniques in organic farming and involves planting two or more species in close proximity, leading to a relationship that is both competitive and complementary. It not only influences the population dynamics of insect pests, but also suppresses weed growth by shading the ground, and through allelopathy amongst other phenomena. In addition, the correct crop association leads to a better cycling of nutrients in the soil, bringing improvements in productivity. For example, mangetout, being a variety of pea, benefit from being grown alongside brassicas and carrots, though not onions or garlic.
Weeds and pets
Controlling adventitious plants (weeds) is one of the most important problems to confront. We use only mechanical and manual solutions, although having the soil free of plants is not the objective in organic agriculture, since they play an important role in the agroecosystem. Our objective is to maintain the diversity of natural plants, without putting the crops at risk. For this reason we allow adventitious plants, but regulate them as is necessary. The basic idea is to be aware of the natural ‘seed bank’ in the soil and select the preventative techniques according to the crop rotation. All the methods described above also have a major impact on pests. Diversity keeps the crops healthy and and also provides a natural habitat for essential predators. Should we find it necessary to use any further plant protection, it will be of natural origin or very low impact, and we will be duly monitored by the CAECV (Committee for Organic Agriculture in the Valencian Community).
La huerta: Valencia’s historic farmland
2000 years of tradition
The foundations of our project are set in the heart of the historic huerta of Valencia, a truly singular area of farmland found in the green belt surrounding the city. It is a living cultural landscape and a district in its own right – an agricultural landmark.