We care for the land and trees

Here at Cova Fullola we take a different approach to caring for our land and trees by using regenerative agricultural practices and holistic management styles across the farm. 

We do not use any chemicals, even organic ones on our trees.

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We do not use
chemicals

Some of our trees are estimated to be up to 500 years old. For the majority of their lives synthetic fertilizers and pesticides did not exist. They were fertilised simply with wood ash and the occasional load of organic manure, so we continue to treat the trees in this traditional style. Additionally, we cultivate indigenous microorganisms and apply them to the ground, along with biochar, to build the soil. This regenerative act is part of our response to the years of erosion we observe on the terraces. The only substance we use is a pheromone to divert 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 in many olive groves. The use of irrigation on olive trees produces fruit with a much lower oil content and less complex flavour. We address increasing desertification and reduction in rainfall by fostering rich plant life among the olive trees. This reverses erosion and increases the capability of the soil to retain water, boosting the resilience of the grove to the effects of climate change. All wild plants are welcome to grow here, and aromatic ones such as fennel, rosemary, thyme and immortelle, are said to give the oil a hint of flavour. We strim the grass lightly around them once or twice a year to support their cycle of growth whilst mitigating fire risk.

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Soil Regeneration

Amongst the aromatic herbs and grasses grow a huge variety of nitrogen fixing species of plants, creating ground cover and green manures which work in partnership with healthy microbial life to feed the soil.  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 well over 15 years, and our soil is thriving. One of the most important and exciting ways we work to regenerate the soil is by making biochar! Read on to find out more... 

We sequester carbon

Amongst the aromatic herbs and grasses grow a huge variety of nitrogen fixing species of plants, creating ground cover and green manures which work in partnership with healthy microbial life to feed the soil.  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 well over 15 years, and our soil is thriving. One of the most important and exciting ways we work to regenerate the soil is by making biochar! Read on to find out more... 

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Biochar - closing the carbon loop

It is normal practice here for farmers to burn all prunings and sending huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. We learnt about making biochar soon after arriving here and every year we turn our prunings into microbially rich, water retentive carbon. We compost the biochar with manure and food waste and inoculate with indigenous microbes before applying under the trees. Biochar has a huge capacity to regenerate soil, make it more resilient and host a wide array of microbial life. We will be writing much more about this soon, explaining the whole process from start to finish

We prune differently

In this area, since the introduction of synthetic fertilisers and chainsaws, 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 them to rely on fertilisers. This is good for short term profits, but bad for the long term resilience of the trees.

 

We were taught to prune in a new holistic way which takes into account the increased intensity of sun and changing climate to protect the longevity of the trees. We feel so grateful to have the wonderful honour to care for these trees. Although we are caretakers for a small portion of their long lives we prioritise the health of the ancient trees over the production of fruit.

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We encourage wildlife

Cova Fullola is a 20 hectare valley with an estimated 8 hectares of tended olive grove and 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.

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We are off-grid

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

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