Food products are tainted with chemicals and leave a heavy carbon footprint.
The road to our current food situation – one where edibles are lacking in nutrients, travel far and leave a greater carbon footprint – is long and winding. We can straighten it out. In Spain, the slow-to-grow agriculture sector (as compared with other countries at similar stages of development for over 200 years) puts Andalusia, where dry-farming is the norm, in position to lead the 4th Agricultural Revolution.
Because of the long history of cultivation, many food gardens planted in Andalusia end up serving as more of a drain than a sponge for water and nutrients. Much of the soil is over-ploughed and fertilized with synthetic chemicals, or not even planted at all, due of water shortage and ease of purchase at the supermarkets.
What are we doing about it?
Showing, Not Telling
It is in the garden where we demonstrate how small alterations – such as planting an on-contour swale instead of in straight, can dramatically improve cultivated land. Our garden is a successful pilot of our large-scale agro-forestry project.
You will see the same keyline cultivation patterns in our garden as our food forest. The garden’s sunken beds (like terraces) make it is easier to maintain pathways. This results in more-permanent beds where there is constant addition of organic matter that builds the water holding capacity.
Modified Planting Schedule
Some plants we direct seed and others we use our greenhouse to help mature.
Transplanting (growing seedlings in graduating trays before they are planted) prevents weed species from consuming the valuable resources found in healthy soil. Instead of watering an entire plot, we can tend to new plants selectively, offer greater protection for our nurslings from wind, temperature and other threats.
The garden provides chemical-free produce to the Suryalila kitchen and generates organic material for our own store of compost that enables the return nutrients to the soil. Our priorities are high value crops that we can grow well here that are hard to source locally and organically. This provides our kitchen with a variety of flavors and textures, and establishes a relationship with local vendors who provide us with additional supplies.