By Lisa on Feb 23, 2015 with Comments 0
One of our recent visits with our Winter Activities group was to an organic farm in Majorca. The farm is Son Barrina near Llubí and is cultivated by volunteers using the permaculture method of organic farming.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what permaculture is; read on and all will be explained.
And if you are interested in visiting an organic farm in Majorca then read on too…
This was one of those winter activities with food, which are always the most popular kind, so there were about 25 of us in our group who rolled up to Son Barrina, after finding our way down a long, narrow and fairly pot-holey dirt track (thanks for that, Google Maps).
We were greeted by American Alfred and Mexican Daniella, two of the volunteers from PermaMed (Permacultura Mediterranea) that take part in the organic farming at Son Barrina. They were to be our hosts for the day and they would be teaching us about the work they do at Son Barrina and about the ideals of permaculture.
What’s the first thing you are asked to do at an organic farm in Majorca?
When you visit an organic farm in Majorca do you know what is the first thing you are asked to do?
I’ll tell you then:
The first thing you are asked to do when you visit an organic farm in Majorca is to move one of the haystacks!
That’s right, no sooner had we arrived and it was time to roll up our sleeves and get pushing!
They had already asked us when we arranged the visit if we would like to do some digging for them. The answer had been a unanimous and resounding NO!
Yet here we were, five minutes in and earning our keep already.
Actually, I just took photos of the haystack effort and watched as Toni and a few of the boys took charge of the (very heavy) haystack and moved it to where Alfred and Daniella indicated.
Why you need to move hay at an organic farm in Majorca:
And shortly after, we found out why we needed to move this haystack about 20m to another part of the huge plot…
We were instructed to grab a load of the hay and follow Daniella and Alfred to a clearing, where we were to set the hay down and sit on it in a circle.
Okay, this was getting extremely hippyish and we started to worry about what a visit to an organic farm in Majorca entailed.
Would we all have to hold hands and kiss the earth? Would we have to do a rain dance? We all sat down on the ground on our hay, looking at each other dubiously.
Luckily we didn’t have to do any of the above. And thankfully the ‘cult’ in permaculture did not turn out to be just that. Soon all was explained…
Once we were all settled, Alfred and Daniella introduced themselves to us and began to explain about their project here. They had to start by explaining what permaculture is, as no one in our group really knew. And then they were able to talk about their specific project at Son Barrina.
First they told us a bit about themselves. It turned out they had only been living in Majorca for four months, having come over from Barcelona after learning about this project and wanting to join it.
What is Permaculture?
The word permaculture comes from “permanent” and “agriculture” and was coined in the 1970s by Bill Mollison, an Australian who is considered the father of permaculture.
Permaculture is a move to try to sustain human activity and to create communities that are self-sufficient and organic, with the idea of cycles that will grow and continue to sustain themselves.
For example, I have a friend who grows her own crops. She eats the vegetables and feeds the off-cuts, left-overs, etc. to her donkey (Martin). The donkey lives on her land and his manure is used to fertilise the new crops. The crops will grow, feed the people, be recycled through Martin and find their way back into the ground to sustain the next crop, and so on. This could be considered permaculture, even though my friend probably isn’t aware of it.
You can learn more about permaculture (and with much better explanations than mine) from the following websites:
Permaculture’s use of the circle method:
Alfred and Daniella explained to us the way that the plot at Son Barrina is designed in concentric circles. This is one of the methods of permaculture. Normally with this method there are five concentric circles.
You can put whatever you want in each circle, depending on your project but normally you follow a general layout: the centre is known as zone zero, where a building or house is. Zone zero is for people. The next circle out is for small crops that require a lot of attention, followed by animals, followed by small fruit trees, followed by bigger trees that protect the whole area and require very little attention and can be left alone.
So the things closer to the centre, or the people, are what require the most attention.
Then, the whole thing is also divided into segments to allow for crop rotation and easy organisation. I found the two diagrams below that will help you to understand what I mean.
How Son Barrina organic farm in Majorca uses permaculture:
At the plot at Son Barrina, in the centre, which is called zone zero, they plan to build a wooden structure with cover, like a hut, all made out of reused materials.
The next circle is where crops are planted that need constant attention such as herbs, vegetables and other small plants which are edible or produce fruit or vegetables.
Then they will make a mobile chicken run for the next circle, which they can move from place to place as they need to fertilise the different areas.
Next they have fruit trees and then higher, woodland trees such as pines.
At Son Barrina they also plan to add a sixth circle, which will be dedicated to typical plants and trees of Majorca. This was at the insistence of Julio Cantos, the person in charge of the project at Son Barrina.
Check out the website of PermaMed to learn more about the Son Barrina project and to see some diagrams of the planned circles. Unfortunately it is only in Spanish.
Organic farm shop Son Barrina
After our chat in the hay, we were let loose on the Son Barrina organic farm shop, which sells ecological products grown on the land and also from other places. As well as fruit and vegetables there is ecological rice, quinoa and pasta, jams and chutneys and tea and chocolate, plus much more.
Then it was time to eat. We were fed a delicious pumpkin soup followed by vegetable curry with couscous. It was delicious too and there was a nice organic tea to finish off with. We all left absolutely stuffed.
What to do if you want to be part of this organic farm in Majorca
If you would like to know more about this organic farm in Majorca or if you would like to take part, just show up at the farm any Wednesday and ask for Alfred or Daniella. They will be more than happy to show you around and show you where to start digging.
The idea is that everyone who participates takes a share of the produce for free. Well, it’s free but it’s very hard work. Hard but exhilarating.
Wednesday is kind of their community day, when anyone can just show up and join in, so that’s the best day to just turn up.
Otherwise you can send them an email via the contact section of the PermaMed website.
Maybe you have already had experience with permaculture or organic farming. If so, please share in the comments.
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You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.
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....