Responsible tourism: Cooking & walking holiday in Andalucia, Spain
Our objective is to maintain a low impact, sustainable business which employs local people, using locally sourced or home grown produce, allowing visitors the opportunity to sample traditional village life in a non-obtrusive manner, and to explore the hills and mountains along the ancient network of mule tracks , with zero or minimal effect on the fragile eco-system.
We make sure all our guests are fully informed about the importance of water conservation and are given information about local farming and watering. Guests are given the opportunity buy local produce as well as given directions to important cultural or historic sites.
We maintain a 4 hectare finca, or local farm, working with local people and using traditional agricultural techniques. As such we are members of the watering community, an ancient, near sacred body responsible for the upkeep of the network of water channels without which the whole massif would quickly desertify. Our farm is recognised by the soil association as organic, using goat manure from the village and compost from kitchen leftovers. We are members of an organic growers group, and are active members of various pressure groups campaigning against unregulated intensive farming. All our properties are built from locally available materials, using magnesium clay (launa) as insulation over the beams of poplar trees grown for this purpose on our farm.
Everyone we employ lives within the village. The same is true of the builders and tradesmen we have worked with to restore several local houses. The bulk of our purchasing is done at the nearest market town, and we actively encourage our guests to visit local shops which offer wine, honey, olive oil, tapestry work, sun-dried foods, carpentry and ceramics all produced within the community. We are currently in the early stages of an ambitious project to create a charity based work creation scheme whose aim is to create 10 full time positions for the conservation and maintenance of the local landscape.
Unusually for a foreigner David has worked as a local counsellor and this year 2014 we also employ somebody down at our organic farm.
At the start of each tour guests are fully briefed on different aspects of life in Spanish villages as well as given guidelines and suggestions to minimise damage to the environment out on the trails. Spanish customs and social mores (behaviour at Spanish fiesta for example) are discussed.