How we care for the land and trees
Here at Cova Fullola we take a different approach to caring for our land and trees using regenerative agricultural practices and holistic management styles.
We do not use any chemicals, even organic ones on the trees.
We believe that a healthy, vibrant and diverse ecosystem can provide everything that the trees require to survive and thrive. We have trees that are estimated to be up to 500 years old and for the majority of their lives synthetic fertilizers did not exist. The only nourishment given to the trees was ash and the occasional load of organic manure, we continue to treat the trees in this traditional style. The only substance we use is a pheromone against the olive fly which does not come into contact with the tree, soil or olives.
We do not irrigate our olives
We are amazed and horrified to see the huge amount of water used on many olive plantations. The use of irrigation on olive trees produces fruit with a much lower oil content and less complex flavour. We are attempting to tackle the increasing desertification and reduction in rainfall through fostering rich plant-life among the olive trees to increase the water retention of the soil and reduce soil erosion.
We believe in regenerating the depleted soil and healing the land
We cultivate and foster local nitrogen fixing species of plants, create ground cover and green manures which feed the soil and increase its resilience to changes in climate. We only cut the terraces twice; before harvest and before summer to reduce fire risk; even then, we are very selective with what we cut to increase biodiversity. We had no idea before we came here that most non organic groves (and even some organic groves) scrape the ground bare, removing all plant life and top soil, to facilitate easy harvest and chemical application. We endeavor to regenerate the soil at Cova Fullola and every year we are rewarded with visibly increasing diversity of plants, insects and birds. We are lucky because we have learnt that there has not been chemicals used here in over 15 years, and our soil is thriving.
We use no machinery on the land; only a chainsaw and strimmer
We decided at the start of our journey as stewards of this beautiful valley to not use a tractor, quad or any machine which compacts the soil, it means a little more work for us but we believe that the soil is more important
We prune differently
In this area, since the introduction of synthetic fertilizers the style of pruning olive trees has changed greatly. Now commercial trees are normally pruned in such a way to stress the trees into over producing fruit forcing the tree to rely on fertilizers. We were taught to prune in a new holistic way which takes into account the increased intensity of sun, changing climate and longevity of the tree. We feel so blessed to have the wonderful opportunity to care for these trees and although we are caretakers for a small portion of their long life we prioritize the health of the ancient trees over the production of fruit
We foster biodiversity and polyculture
We sequester carbon through making biochar from our prunings
We prune our trees in January and February which creates a huge amount of wood and leaves, normally this is burnt, wasting a fantastic resource and sending tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Anything that we can't use in the stove or use for olive leaf tea we turn into biochar. Biochar is an ancient process of creating nutrient laden charcoal which has the ability to hold a huge amount of water. We use biochar to regenerate the soil, putting much needed organic and carbon matter back into the earth. This allows us to regenerate areas of land which have been depleted and have a fantastic vegetable garden using only a small amount of rainwater. To find out more about biochar workshops at Cova Fullola click here
We manage the forest to encourage the wilderness to return
Cova Fullola is a 20 hectare valley with an estimated 8 hectares of tended olive grove, 2 hectares of olive grove abandoned for roughly 50 years. The rest is native succession forest with various species of pine, juniper, holm oak, kermes oak, service trees, wild cherry, almonds, figs, apricots, hawthorn, carobs, native palms and mastic just to mention a few in the wilderness. There are a huge diversity of birds here which only exist because of our regenerative practices and our wilderness. We also have a large variety of mammals like wild boar, deer, gennet, squirrel, pine marten, badgers, weasels, stoats and rabbits. We love the wild area at Cova Fullola and we are so happy to be able to work encouraging diversity by clearing areas choked by invasive plants, thinning young pine forest to allow oaks to grow, repairing terrace walls for access and marking paths through the wilderness to allow us to enjoy exploring the land hoping to catch a glimpse of the diverse flora and fauna.
We are 100% Off Grid using only rain water and solar power
We have tried to ensure that our oil is as good for the planet as possible and we produce as little carbon as possible at Cova Fullola. If you are interesting in getting involved or offsetting your carbon by donating to our reforestation programme please get in touch