Expats use traditional methods to reverse desertification in Andalusia

Published:  20 Apr at 6 PM
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Whilst the world battles against the coronavirus, expats in Andalusia are fighting the region’s desertification.

For a decade, Western Andalusia’s agricultural heartland has been under threat from rising temperatures, low rainfall and over-farming. Already, large areas are now deserted and arid, but a dedicated group of expats are determined to rescue the land using a system which reverses desertification and returns the precious acres to their full beauty and usefulness.

Some 20 hectares of formerly arid land are now a stunning green Utopia, demonstrating that sustainable farming techniques can reverse desertification and bring the land back to its former glory. Expat Vidya Heisel, her dedicated team of volunteers and biodiversity expert Jacob Evans planted a total of 15,000 unique shrubs and trees deemed suitable for their ability to maintain a healthy fauna and flora balance, and installed an irrigation system which uses minimal water and incorporates natural channels, locks, and dams to direct the water where it’s needed.

Another innovation dating back to times when agriculture and animal farming went hand in hand was the introduction of animal rotation, thus making the use of pesticides unnecessary. Sheep, alpacas and horses keep the grass under control and their manure is used to fertilise the crops, removing the need for chemical pesticide usage. If the soil needs a boost, organic vermicompost is used. Insects are attracted to the land via areas given over to flowers, keeping pests at a minimum and helping pollination. Nowadays, almost half of the land now hosts olive and fruit trees as well as strawberry beds.

The farm is open to visitors and relies on crowd funding, donations and the revenue from workshops and seminars on the methods used and why it’s essential to support this approach to reverse the deterioration of one of Spain’s loveliest regions. Many expatriates now living and working in Spain are wondering whether life will be the same once the pandemic is no longer a threat to health and the world economy, but the farm is now a perfect example of a combination of old and new which can reverse the damage being done by the present system.
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