Regenerative aromatics: internship at La Junquera

June 10, 2021

My name is Ana Marquez Barrenechea, an MSc student at Wageningen University.

The last four months I have conducted my internship at  La Junquera, an abandoned village and Lighthouse Farm, located in the southeast of Spain, with around 20 beautiful people, and many horses, cows, dogs, cats and chickens.

During this time, I have been able to participate in numerous activities related to regenerative farming and gardening, such as planting trees, planting a vineyard in key line design, tending the vegetable garden, and taking care of the chicken coop by cleaning it, collecting eggs and proving water and food for the 16 chickens and 2 roosters.

From the beginning of May, I’ve focused on the vegetable garden and have planted a great number of vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, aubergines, and pumpkins. Most of the vegetable beds were mulched in order to mitigate weed growth and promote water retention, a very important aspect of regenerative production in the arid climate of southern Spain.

In addition to the field work, I have been writing a manual on regenerative aromatic production in the Mediterranean, as part of a broader project funded by EIT-Food. This manual is designed to help farmers set up and maintain  regenerative aromatic production, which includes many perennial shrubs such as lavender, thyme, rosemary and sage. There was not a lot of literature available on this topic, so in order to get the required information, I have combined literature review with semi-structured interviews by visiting six aromatics farmers  across Spain

My research on regenerative aromatics was especially important for La Junquera because the farm already has 15 hectares of native aromatic species such as sage and lavender, and they want to explore the business potential of this sector. Southeastern Spain is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and aromatic plants play an important role in preparing for the future because of their resilience and adaptation potential. They often grow well on agricultural land and natural areas that are considered too degraded for other crops.

The learning process for me in this period has been incredible. At the beginning I didn't have much knowledge about regenerative agriculture and aromatics, but in this time I have been able to learn a lot about different agricultural practices, crop management, and production processes. I couldn't be happier with my MSc Internship experience!!

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