By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe Practical holistic gardeners and authors living in Spain for over twenty years referred to in several publications as the ‘Good Life Couple’.
How We Are Self Sufficient in Spain
Meat – We rear chickens, quail and partridges for eggs and meat and collect large snails for cooking after being fed on rosemary leaves for three or four weeks and breed eco rabbits. A snail farm is planned!
Fish – Although we would love to rear trout to eat we have insufficient land and no stream near the property. We therefore combine walking with fishing several times a year to top up the deep freeze with trout from the mountains and fish from the beaches. The latter unfortunately becoming more difficult each year.
Fresh water –We invested in a Grosse GIE unit for purifying town and spring water rather than buying water in plastic bottles and collect from local springs.
Healthy drinks – We have daily herbal infusions in place of tea or coffee and prepare twelve litres of the ancient Asian health drink Kombucha each month flavoured with various fruits and herbs from the garden. If you look up Kombucha on the web it is made from pure teas and the Kombucha fungal/lichen (another plant!) pancake growing on the surface consuming the extracts from the tea leaves. Dried and fresh fruits and herbs are also used to prepare fruit liquors for Christmas and flavoured white wine for summer evenings.
Olives and olive oil – We have picked our own olives for years and are now regenerating an abandoned olive grove to be able to produce our own ecological olive oil.
Wine – Although we harvest grapes for eating we don’t have the space for a vineyard so have searched out an enthusiastic fellow Expat couple who have converted much of their 12000 square metre plot into a productive vineyard that within four years of trial and error now produces wine as good as much of the locally produced commercial wines. We look forward to tasting their first Reserva wine before the end of the year. Crianza is already put aside for Christmas.
Healthy snacks – As described in two earlier articles we dry freshly harvested organic fruit and vegetables for a tasty energy rich fruit, vegetable and nut mix for tapas, snacks and lunch when walking or fishing, driving or travelling by train or air as well as for use in salads and cooked dishes.
Honey – With the decline in the local production of artisan honey – largely due to EU rules re harvesting and local sales – we have arranged to sponsor a hive in order to have a regular supply of honey combs direct from the hive plus natural propolis one of the most effective fungicides in our garden.
Fresh oxygen – Not forgetting that the food we all take in every second of our lives is oxygen as a major constituent of the air we breath in we live as active an outdoor life as possible – which of course is most day’s in sunny Spain – and mountain/beach walk for regular exercise to keep us fit for gardening and build up appetites to make growing our own worthwhile.
Slow food – The International Slow Food organisation – of which we are members – now places as much emphasis on the need to preserve and stimulate the growing and local consumption of quality traditional food stuffs with a fair reward to the growers as the preservation of third world traditional produce for world wide fair trade export. There is not better way to achieve this than by growing your own. Ecologically for health and at the same time reducing your weekly food spend , shopping travel time and costs.
Many of our experiences and ideas are presented in our latest trilogy of books Your Garden in Spain, Growing healthy fruit in Spain and Growing healthy vegetables in Spain.
In our books we not only give advice to owners of villas and smallholdings but also to those with only apartment terraces or roof gardens. In both cases much can be grown in containers and recently we were amazed that a lady sitting alongside us on a long distant train took out her pet chicken from a wicker shopping basket to feed it when the ticket collector wasn’t watching. The chicken had been taken on holiday to Seville and was now going home to it’s terrace coop in the centre of Barcelona where she claimed to grow herbs and tomatoes. So where there’s a will there’s a way!
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe October 2009