One of the very best things about life in the Alpujarras has been learning how to work the land and enjoying the abundant produce given back as reward. We feel incredibly lucky to own a small-holding of about five hectares, some ten minutes walk from Mairena in an area known as the Alfaguara, which in Arabic means, we're told, an abundance of water. A delightful stream runs through the centre and two irrigation tanks and a naturally rising spring allow us to tend more than a hundred olive trees as well as numerous almond, cherry, medlar, apple, pear, persimmon, orange and apricot trees. Grape vines grow wild and with the very minimum of attention give us more grapes than we know what to do with. Whichever month you visit us we are happy for guests to visit the farm - whether it is to spend an hour helping with the olive harvest in January, or picking oranges to supplement your picnic in March, or gorging on almonds, figs, grapes, pomegranates and walnuts picked straight from the trees in autumn.
Over the years we have worked with the locals who have patiently (mostly!) shown us how to irrigate, plough, prune and tend the land in the age-old tradtions of the village. Often people join our early evening strolls down to the finca where we're happy to explain the complex but fascinating irrigation systems first set up by the Moors, perhaps pick some fruit, then wander back to the villages past the olive mill, where you can see how oil is made traditionally, and taste the very special and particular taste of Mairena olive oil.
For the last 3 years we have enjoyed formal recognition from the Soil Association that the finca is organic. Not only does this mean that all our produce is natural, seasonal and delicious, but an absence of herbicides and pesticides also makes for an extraordinary variety of flowers, bugs and bird life. There is a small ruin on the finca that we keep as a bird hide. One drawback of our organic status, of course, is that all the weeds, hedgerows and grasses need to be controlled in the old fashioned way, ie. by hand………………it goes without saying that our visitors are more than welcome to assist in this surprisingly satisfying labour! The same goes for the dry stone walls, which need regular maintenance. There are, we should mention, plenty of hammocks and shady corners to rest with a book afterwards!