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Welcome to the Spanish Dream!
Thanks for stopping by.We are sure you will want to join us on this fascinating journey, with all it’s twists and turns, it’s ups and down’s, it’s successes and it’s spectacular failures.
To make sense of this introduction, please download our free 30 page ebook ‘Another Peasant Valley Sunday’ above.We know you will really enjoy it.However, if you prefer to get stuck straight into the blog posts, let us transport you to the present day, where we live in the mountains in the Valencia region, and are attempting to grow some unusual crops.
The Plant Project Part 1
As I write, we are filled with excitement and trepidation as we await the arrival of a lorry full of plants for our latest project.After several false dawns due to inclement weather and the failure of a lot of seedlings at the Dutch nursery, we will hopefully soon be getting five thousand moringa plants, and 1000 stevia plants to begin our new project.In a couple of days, another 50 trees are arriving, which means that we will also be attempting to grow our own avocados too!Oh – and we are also planting a load of goji berry plants as well.And we will be sending over a load of tigernuts…..
If you know about any of these plants, you know why we really want to grow them!
Later, we will cover the extraordinary benefits of these plants in more detail, one by one
In order to try out this project, we enlisted the help of Paco the gardener and his son Javier, known as Javi.The family have a house in the campo (countryside) about 10 minutes from us, and the property is nestled in a valley with its own micro climate – so it should be good for growing non-native plant species.It is all a big experiment, and we have no idea how it is going to turn out. However, as we are recording it in the blog, you can enjoy the journey with us, along with the failures and successes, and the trials and tribulations.
The pictures show the spare land on Paco’s property being secured and rented, and prepared for the arrival of the plants.The good news is that Paco and his wife Rosaria have a lot of land.The bad news is that they have very little money, like so many in Spain, following the recession (it is called ‘crisis’ here). The town was once famous for its glass making, led by a company that exported glass all over the world. Paco had worked as man and boy in the factory for 40 years, most of the time in unbearable heat from the weather combined with the glass furnaces.Then one day, they company simply closed down, leaving him without a job. The social security type system is really strange here – if you lose your job, you get benefits according to how long you were in work, from a few months to a couple of years, then the benefits simply stop.
Can you imagine that?All the people on benefits in the UK suddenly losing everything? How would you cope, when you have to feed and clothe your family still, with NO money?So Paco turned to gardening, but his body is quite exhausted after years of toil in adverse conditions, breathing in glass dust.He does what he can, when he can, and they survive on his wife’s meagre pension.So I was overjoyed when I realised we could rent some land off him, to our mutual benefit.He is over the moon, and we are delighted to be able to help their wonderful family, whilst having the land on which to grow our trial crops.
Whilst on the subject of money, pensions etc., we bumped into our elderly neighbours in the supermarket the other day. They were in the meat department, and they had picked up one of the packets of chicken which they showed me. It consisted of a pile of chicken bits and pieces for about 1.50 Euros. They explained that they boiled these up, then bagged them up into three or 4 meals, which they had with rice – every single day. It was all that they could afford.
The maternity system here is very different too. Javi (Paco´s son, our handyman) and his wife Davinia had been trying for a baby for 10 years without success. Javi then lost his job due to the recession. Davinia was working as admin at a company, so they still had an income. In Spain, you can work up until the birth if you want to, but after the birth you are only allowed 4 months maternity leave. If you don’t go back then, you don’t have a job or income. Nothing. So the family rally around and share baby duties to allow the mother to go back to work.
Javi is quite fortunate.We had a lot of work to do here, so we gave him the work. As a result, he set up his own handyman business, and is now working 7 days a week, both on our jobs here, the eco projects, and ad hoc work for the Spanish community.
We just love it when we can be of mutual benefit to people. It is what life, work and friends should be about.Unfortunately there are too many people in this world who simply take, and don’t give back. That is such short term thinking.
Back to the project…..
Moringa need very little water, and thrive in poor soil. It is a tropical/sub tropical plant, and it is a question of time to see whether it will grow here. Stevia should be fine in this climate, and avocado has now started to be grown on the Spanish mainland, although, further south than the Valencia region. Goji berry plants should thrive as well here. Avocados need far more water, so we will need to strike a balance, to get it right. And tigernuts grow really well in Valencia (funnily enough, so does rice) – whether or not we can grow tigernuts successfully is a different matter…time will tell!
Karen and Trevor Blake
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