Our host, Suryalila Retreat Centre, is located in the heart of Andalusia, Spain. The compound, formerly “La Fabrica,” operated as a thriving olive and dairy farm during the last century. Changes in agriculture regulation eventually led to its closure. Suryalila owner and founder Vidya Heisel launched Danyadara, the non-profit appendage, in order to better steward the land and honor its legacy.
The main facilities of Suryalila sit on a relatively flat crest of a ridge sloping toward the northwest. The views are beautiful and expansive though each rolling hill bears the markings of industrial agriculture. We are strategically located in close proximity to protected natural parks and serve as a keystone linking the coastal and mountainous ecosystems. Our location is on the natural flyway of migrating birds so our skies are traversed by many avian species that rely on our land for food and shelter. In the distance, the white village of Prado del Rey sits constantly nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema.
September and October mark olive season in Andalusia and at Danyadara, we employ the age-old harvesting techniques on a selection of our trees. Teams shake olives onto a dropcloth before handpicking the remainder in order to obtain a yield that, once returned from the local pressery, will supply the kitchen with fresh olive oil for the year.
Olive trees have been an engine of Andalusian and Spanish economy for centuries. Their relationship with this land can be traced back to ancient times, and it is due to the olive trees that our buildings exist. Though we no longer employ the granite olive crushing stones and ceramic olive oil urns inherited with the property, we rejoice in their legacy.