An "edible forest" to fight desertification


by Esteban Tejedor

Posted on March 22, 2020


In Cádiz (Spain), by the Sierra de Grazalema, an infertile land has been transformed into a forest where 15,000 trees and shrubs have already been planted, implementing a system based on biodiversity and the conscious management of natural resources. Now, animals like donkeys, alpacas, horses, sheep and chickens live freely in that area.

Vidya Jacqueline Heisel, British, was always clear that she wanted to dedicate herself to helping others find harmony and balance. That is why he has been teaching yoga for more than 40 years around the world: the US, Bali, India... and so on until he reached Spain in 2011 where, attracted by the exceptional beauty of the South of Spain, found the ideal place to establish her sanctuary, the Danyadara project.

However, the 20-hectare farm that surrounds the building presented a problem: it was 'dead’, as industrial agriculture had greatly degraded the fields, but she got to reverse this process. The use of organic fertilisers and sustainable farming systems, and the presence of fauna have been key. Having animal rotation on their farm, the use of pesticides is not necessary.

This philosophy has so far allowed them to recover seven hectares of an olive grove with specimens of around 200 years old that were semi-abandoned and to plant in just four years thousands of shrubs, aromatic plants and trees, including lemon, carob and strawberry trees.

For the time being, the project is supported by contributions from people who support the initiative and, above all, by the income derived from the workshops they teach at the centre. "We want to inspire others and share what we are applying here," says Evans, "it is our choice: we can create desert or create oases."

Her idea is, within 15 years, is to have a stable plantation and to be able to add value to her production through the commercialisation of derived products. "Instead of selling it to an anonymous international market where they pay very little for your work, almost less than it costs you to produce it, make products such as dried figs, jam, carob chocolate, carob flour... that have value within a more conscious and closer market."

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