About twenty-five years ago, Jesus Fernendez de Castro and
Transito Habas Sanchez, fresh out of college decided to
return to the land and put some of their optimistically
youthful ideas to work.
Jesus' great grandfather had bought the cortijo -
a 1000 olive tree farm - back in 1875, and installed a
stone mill to produce olive oil for local sale. The mill
was in operation until 1956, when it became more economical
to simply hire people to work the land and sell the olives
to the newly established local cooperative. Jesus'
grandfather dismantled the traditional mill and over time,
the family lost their direct connection to the land.
Jesus and Transito set out to prove it is still possible
to live off the land. Taking over the family farm, and
acquiring an additional 13,000 untended trees from absent
neighbors, they went to work to create a truly sustainable
farm that would support their growing family.
Working by the light of oil lamps as late as the early
80's, they studied and implemented organic agriculture
and animal husbandry techniques, built a new mill, and
worked with their local community to bring electricity
to the area.
Living so close, yet so far, from today's conveniences has
encouraged Transito and Jesus to rely on a mix of
traditional techniques and modern technology: rainwater
capture is the only water used on the farm, solar panels
supply all of their electricity needs for the majority
of the year.
Today, Jesus and Transito produce about 40,000 liters of
organic Olivar de la Luna oil a year from olives
harvested from their own trees. They raise 400 sheep that
groom the land (they seem to have a taste for olives) and
are sold for organic meat. Jesus and Transito have been
leaders in their community, promoting more sustainable
forms of agriculture and animal husbandry, and
consistently fighting to protect the land for future
1 liter or 34 ounces, 100% organic extra virgin olive oil
using cold-extraction from hand-picked Nevadillo Blanco
olives. Cordoba, Spain.