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help exchange   Host 40542
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Genalguacil, Málaga
All Year: No
Area (ha): 10 Ha
Persons: 6
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 40542
Country: Spain

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Last Updated: February 1, 2017

This is a 10 hectare smallholding, 6 of which are sloping woodland and the rest, about 4 hectares, flat irrigated land. The woodland area, like much of the rest of the surrounding countryside is mixed Mediterranean woodland and includes cork oaks, stone oaks, carob trees, wild and grafted olive trees, pines and a long list of undergrowth shrubs like strawberry trees, heather, wild pistachio, lentiscus and myrtle. Below on the flat irrigable area the vegetation includes other species like southern nettle tree, sweet chestnut, pecan, walnut, white and common poplar.
The smallholding is really spectacular as its boundaries are: to the northwest, the Genal river; to the northeast, a section of the Gran Senda de Málaga public footpath (655km around the entire province of Málaga) where the latter joins the Genal river; to the southwest, with the Descansadero de La Escribana (an ancient public livestock resting place for nomadic grazing rights) where the Almarchal river joins the Genal river, and to the southeast with the Almarchal river and other neighboring farms.
Since Sarah and I were fortunate enough to be able to buy the smallholding in 1989 we have tried to manage it in the manner most in keeping with the environment that our pockets would permit. We found ourselves with a house in ruins and very little else. Since then, we have rebuilt the house with our own hands. We built stables, a barn. a chicken coup, a pigsty and other outhouses necessary to be able to live in the country.
We are omnivores as we believe that it is necessary to have manure to be able to enrich the soil and to be able to cultivate the soil properly. Apart from a number of horses that may or may not be there at any one time (we let the stables), we have around ten ewes and their accompanying lambs, about thirty hens (we sell eggs to our friends nearby) and we have had pigs, turkeys, geese and rabbits. We also have four cats to control the rats and a dog to keep the foxes away, and, yes, they all have names and pension plans!
Since we have 4 hectares of irrigated land and plenty of water, we also have a community garden where all our nearby friends that do not have land of their own or have no water can come and grow their vegetables.
Near the house there is an abundance of fruit trees producing oranges, mandarins, lemon, grapefruits, plums, pears, apples, apricots, peaches, persimmons, figs, pomegranates, avocados, almonds, pecans and pistachios.
As far as wildlife is concerned, we are overrun with wild boar, there are otters in the river and we are visited from the woodland above by roe deer, mongooses, badgers and pine martins. Similarly, because we are near the Straits of Gibraltar the bird life tends to be as diverse as it is spectacular.
There are a number of projects that Sarah and I would still like to carry out. These include the following: we would like to invest in solar energy by installing a bank of photovoltaic panels, we will continue to plant trees, rebuild the stone walls and improve every aspect of La Escribana that affects its productivity whilst continuing to care for the environment and those aspects that affect the aesthetics of the smallholding.

Additionally, although we have never officially applied for organic farm status, since we bought the smallholding in 1989 we have never used any artificial fertiliser, herbicides or pesticides.
Lastly, a word about the hosts: I have a degree in Pure & Applied Biology, but I have been a translator and conference interpreter since 1988, i.e., I am self-employed, as is my wife, Sarah, who is a chartered physiotherapist from Kings College Hospital, London. We have two children: Antaeus, who is 28 and Laura who is 26. Laura lives very nearby and we see her quite often, and Antaeus lives and works in London. This means we have plenty of spare rooms in the house!
It is only fair to mention that since both Sarah and I continue to work, there are many occasions when we cannot always be around or with the volunteers that come to help us out, even if we are always there mornings and evenings. Despite this, we do everything possible when around to accompany, help and, of course, share our knowledge with our guests. Additionally, and because of the time restraints we also prefer volunteers that come for at least two weeks at a time, and we have had volunteers in the past that have stayed with us for more than a year!
This year specifically, from January onwards, we have to clear the undergrowth to be able to harvest the cork, so that the cork oaks will be safe in the event of a fire after they have been harvested in the summer, and we invite members of HelpX to share our lives with us throughout the entire spring of 2016, assuming you like it when you get here. We will, however, ask for at least a two-week minimum commitment.
Helper accommodation is in our house, where there are an additional 3 rooms available: two of them with double beds and one with two bunk beds.
Our house is both cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We have solar hot water in the summer and hot water and central heating from a 20 Kw heat exchange unit running off the fireplace in the winter. There are two bathrooms and a separate WC, Wifi and all normal mod cons are also available.
Other tasks that you may be asked to help with include feeding the animals, building dry stone walls, cleaning out the stables and the sheep shed, growing food, harvesting carobs and olives, processing produce, collecting and stockpiling firewood, cooking, strimming, and having a good time!
La Escribana is taking on helpers now, January 2017, and for the rest of the spring until May.

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