El Jable Lanzarote
Farming in the desert
The sand in El Jable is organic, which makes the plane fertile. The only reason it looks like a desert most of the year is because it doesn´t get any water. However, since ancient times, people figured out a very original and peculiar system how to grow high quality crops without using any artificial irrigation. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, watermelons, onions and other produce from El Jable is legendary over all Canary Islands. The traditional method of farming is so original, that The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations wants to include El Jable as one of the world´s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems spaces.
Organic traditional farming is completely compatible with wildlife conservation in El Jable. However, it is hard work and little money for the farmers and these gradually abandon their fields for more efficient activities. This is why we committed to help those who respect and practice sustainable cohabitation in El Jable, where people and wildlife can share the space.
PLANTING FOR THE bustards
The land he lets us use is as a frame to his field. The intention is to find out whether our “buffer plantation” helps to protect his crops from bird foraging. In our non-commercial plantation “for the birds” we prefer to use varieties that used to be planted in El Jable traditionally but are gradually disappearing, such as cereals, sweet potatoes, watermelons, squash, tomatoes and others.
Camera traps or foot prints give us evidence of our secret visitors and their tastes.
When we do field trips for school children in El Jable, part of the tour is a visit to the Planting for the bustards project. We hire the farmer to explain to them how the sand farming works and to teach them to plant.
The children enjoy it because they are planting “for the birds” but at the same time, they learn about their heritage, about why organic farming is important for the health of the people, the wildlife and the environment and last but not least, the farmer has a possibility of an extra income.