At her farm in Toledo, Spain.
As we drive into the countryside southwest of Madrid towards Toledo, our excitement grows as we watch storks flying over their nests which, in turn, are built atop church steeples and electricity pylons scattered around the landscape. Not far from Madrid, but far enough to feel removed from the city, there is an awe-inspiring sustainable farm whose surrounding fields glow on this glorious spring day.
Six years ago, Blanca and her then partner, miraculously survived an accident in which their car was flipped over by a train. She recalls the event with unbelievable stoicism, even though it was one that changed Blanca's life. She considers their good fortune to be a true miracle. Blanca named her farm exactly that: 'Dehesa El Milagro’, or 'The Miracle Medow'.
At around that time, Blanca had found a huge plot of land that she wanted to buy, and which would fulfil her dreams of living and working in the countryside. This also pushed her to realize a deep-seated passion, which had remained unexplored until then. She had always been interested in sustainable agriculture, and when the time was right, she applied her boundless energy and compassionate outlook to turning the old estate into the magnificent location it is now.
Dehesa El Milagro is one of the only few vertically integrated sustainable farms in Spain. Blanca raises cattle and sheep for meat, rotating the green fields on which the animals feed. Her chickens also roam freely, laying their eggs in mobile coops on-wheels. Their methodology is greatly influenced by fellow sustainable farmer, Joel Salatin, head of Polyface, a farm in the U.S. with, some would say, revolutionary ideas, grass-based and beyond organic farming which respect nature's own cycles.
Now her team are also raising turkeys and chickens for poultry. Furthermore, they grow their own cereal feed (barley, oats, wheat and more) and grass to complement the animals' diet. Half of the land is cultivated and the other half is parture on which the herds rotate constantly to promote grass growth and good soils, following the principles of regenerative agriculture. This allows Blanca to achieve her goal to of maintaining the farm as a patchwork of exclusively green pastures.
They grow vegetables free of pesticides, which only require organic fertilizers, and are composed of farm scraps and other green composts. Experience has proven that they cannot grow every vegetable variety economically viably, so they have reached out to other specialist green farmer/suppliers in order to serve a growing group of online clients who religiously order groceries from them on a weekly basis. Produce like carrots, which are complicated to farm with ease, are regularly supplied by these third-party partners. By incorporating the produce of other farmers - who otherwise would be forced to sell to larger distributors thereby compromising their own revenue potential - Blanca's farm is actively supporting the local economy.
It is just wonderfully inspiring to hear Blanca talk about her journey, and how through the help and support of equally passionate professionals, she has managed to be the very best at what she does, while still learning and evolving: maintaining a healthy balance between productivity and a learned respect for the soil itself, which truly holds the key to her livelihood and ambitions.
She talks about collaborative work, joining forces with expert advisors and councilors, who each navigate their respective ways through this fairly new trend in Spain. Her friend and partner, Arturo Grinda, is an architect and executor of this tightly-knit system, which achieves a balance between fields, animals and the workers themselves, who spend their days harvesting and taking such great care of Dehesa El Milagro. Blanca points out how much her team means to her, the loyal clients of a complex logistics puzzle that she has created from the ground up, while also managing to sustain a positive and productive relationship with neighbors and local providers alike.