THE HUALDO PROJECT

Background

Hualdo farm consists of a group of farms totaling 4,000 hectares under the same border on the southern bank of the Tagus River as it passes through El Carpio de Tajo and La Puebla de Montalbán. Its configuration and orography determined in the past a subsistence agriculture (as revealed by the different buildings and farmhouses that appear dotting its entire extension) but this ceased to be viable towards the middle of the 20th century. On the farm there were many families who made agricultural production in the different valleys their main sustenance. Global changes in the dynamics of the agricultural and livestock economy, led to the abandonment of smallholdings, although the areas in the fertile plain of the Tagus continued to be profitable for a time thanks to the availability of water for irrigation.

The property was concentrated mainly in the dry land, enabling more rational exploitation systems that used modern machinery, but even these had to be abandoned as early as the first decade of this century, as they ceased to be sustainable. It was sown to give certain sustenance to game and to maintaining the configuration of the territory, but without the intention of harvesting. Irrigation land, on the other hand, were transformed with imported techniques, both irrigation (pivots, dripping …) and cultural techniques (tipping tools or highly compacting machines). Until finally, the conventional agricultural model is also exhausted. Even if it was still economically viable (it is not due to the comparatively low production and the high cost of inputs), it is no longer social and ecological. In this last aspect in particular, the field has been ecologically decapitalized for years due to the implantation of an extractive model based on industrial chemistry and external inputs, the agro ecosystem has been simplified and impoverished, disregarding everything that is not immediately quantifiable (when agricultural processes are very long-term), soils degrade to become a mere substrate and, ultimately, the negative externalities of the activity are never taken into account.

  • Solar panels in the Hualdo Estate

Finca Hualdo: The Hualdo Project

In an attempt to locally reverse this situation, we have been designing an agricultural project that organically transforms the productive environment we manage without risking the economy of the farm itself: there is no sustainability without profitability.

But the transformation rates on the field are marked by biology and natural processes (tree development, seasonal and plant cycles, herd selection, greening of agriculture …). For all these reasons, this will necessarily be a slow and long term project expected to take 30 to 40 years.

Thus, the project itself has matured and deployed its capabilities: the first olive trees are planted in 1995, the sheep arrive on the farm in 2006, the mill is built in 2009, the first photovoltaic plant opens in 2018, the cheese factory starts in 2019 … At the same time, society’s demand and consumption habits and patterns evolve and become more sophisticated, so the project is iteratively aligning with the new parameters.

The idea is to integrate all the activities of agricultural and livestock production in increasingly closed cycles and less dependent on the outside: the manure of the sheep fertilizes the olive grove, the olive pit is used to generate energy, the whey of the cheese factory will help in the future to compost the mill´s pomace (skin, pit and other waste of the olives once being processed) which in turn will serve to improve the soils … In parallel, we are building new photovoltaic plants for pumping irrigation water, reducing our energy consumption and improving the carbon footprint.