By Lisa on Mar 23, 2015 with Comments 3
Today I visited an aloe vera farm in Mallorca with the Winter Activities group.
Don’t spend much money
Don’t spend much money
Don’t spend much money
That’s what I was telling myself.
Who was I kidding?
I spent 59€. And Toni spent another 56€.
The visit to the aloe vera farm in Mallorca
The aloe vera farm in Mallorca is really busy with group visits. And I didn’t even know it existed until we went there. We had to visit at 1pm after the groups had left.
We were met by Bernat and Ralph, two Germans who form part of the staff of six. In fact all the staff is German; it is a German-run farm. Both spoke Spanish and English, thankfully, because despite there being about seven nationalities in our group, none of us spoke much German.
We split into two groups for the tour as there were so many of us – at least 25. Ralph took a group in English and Bernat took a group in Spanish.
Woohoo! For once we get a guided tour in English. That was certainly a treat.
After we were literally given a taste of aloe vera with a shot of aloe vera juice with orange and banana, we set off into the fields. The property is approximately 400,000 square metres and has 200,000 aloe vera plants.
Visiting the aloe vera plantation and learning about the plant
All the plants here are of the Barbandensis Aloe Vera Miller variety, which is the only variety of the 600 types of aloe vera that has healing or cosmetic properties.
Ralph was very knowledgable and enthusiastic and he explained EVERYTHING to us, and was more than happy to answer our questions.
He showed us where they have a few plants under a shelter where they are protected from the heat and cold, and though they looked good, he said that for the purpose of the farm, the plants that are out in the open air are better because they get stressed by the changes in temperature and this is when they produce more nutrients.
The first aloe vera plants at this farm were imported to Mallorca from the Canary Islands and originally come from African climes like the desserts of South Sudan.
The aloe vera plants need five years before they are ready to be harvested.
Many of the plants that we saw were about 15 years old. When you look at an aloe vera plant, the number of layers of new stems represents the number of years. After about five years more, the plants begin to produce less liquid and nutrients and are therefore ‘retired’ and not harvested any more.
They don’t get rid of the old plants though; they have so much space that it’s easier to just leave them. These rubbery plants do not break down in compost either and are quite useless as fertiliser.
These plants are like cacti in that they retain water for their own use during drier weather. So they don’t need watering, feeding or keeping in very rich soil. They prefer to be neglected. Here at the aloe vera farm, in the summer if it does not rain for 4-5 weeks then they do give them a quick overnight soak, because here they are interested in producing as much liquid and nutrients as possible. If the plant has to start using its own stores then the object is quite defeated.
The aloe vera plants are not at all susceptible to plagues of insects due to the aloin which acts as a deterrent. So no sprays or chemicals are needed to protect the plant. This is a fully organic farm anyway.
Aloe vera contains aloin, which needs to be removed before applying to wounds or before use in cosmetics.
Aloin is a bitter compound which is found right next to the outer part of the plant, so when using fresh aloe vera, you must cut the part of the plant you are going to use and then slice away the outer skin, making sure to take the yellow layer of aloin too and then you are just left with the inner flesh, which is a colourless jelly.
A tiny amount of aloin is used as a bittering agent in drinks such as Campari or Aperol.
Harvesting the aloe vera
Here at the aloe vera farm in Mallorca they do all the harvest by hand, including this separation process.
There are six permanent staff in the farm but for the harvest they take an extra 10-12 more labourers, as they do for weeding too.
Once they have the usable aloe vera, they make a liquid at the farm and then it is sent to Palma for testing. Once it is confirmed that the aloin levels are zero, the liquid is approved for commercial use and is sent back to the farm. Then it has to be sent to Germany to make cosmetics.
The only thing that they add to this liquid before you can drink it or use it in another way is lemon juice, for preservation. Aloe vera doesn’t need anything else. So if you buy any aloe vera cosmetics that have a whole list of ingredients then it probably contains a lot of stuff that neither the aloe vera nor your body need. Always make sure that either ‘aloe vera’ or the name of the variety ‘Barbandensis Aloe Vera Miller’ is listed as the first or second ingredient on the label.
Aloe Vera products on sale at the aloe farm in Mallorca
Once we had had our tour of the plantation we were treated to another aloe vera shot – we’d be overdosing! – and we were shown into the shop.
They sell hand creams, face creams, pure liquid aloe vera and aftersun, as well as pure aloe vera juice for drinking, plus their own selection of aloe vera grappas.
If you like nice cosmetics then it’s worth a visit to the shop without necessarily doing the tour. After we’d finished testing all the creams and potions my hands felt like those of a soft skinned newborn!
Lunch at Rancho Grande
Once we had all spent up we jumped in the cars and drove three minutes to Rancho Grande estate in Son Serra for lunch. There were 17 of us for lunch so we had called in advance to let them know to stock up the barbecue.
We had asked them to do a special menu for us to keep things simple, and we were served the most delicious chicken and vegetable skewers I’ve ever tasted. The huge pieces of barbecued chicken were perfectly grilled and succulent.
All in all it was a great day.
Have you ever been to an aloe vera farm? For more information about the aloe vera farm in Mallorca, visit their website: aloe-mallorca.com.
And if you haven’t had a lunch at Rancho Grande in Mallorca then you really don’t know what you are missing.
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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....