In the fire that occurred in Bejís on August 15, 2022, 19,159 hectares of cultivated fields and forests were destroyed by the flames, causing significant losses both in the natural area, as well as in the soil, biodiversity, olive trees, almond trees and holm oaks as well as the projects and dreams of an entire population.
That is why, after assessing the dramatic situation we are experiencing, we are launching this crowdfunding campaign to focus our efforts on reversing the situation immediately, efficiently and transparently.
It must be taken into account that the activities of the primary sector are one of the most effective tools when it comes to fighting fires, since taking care of the territory we prevent them. Neither can we forget all the effort that all the members of the cooperative have invested throughout their lives, that is why we cannot leave them aside now that they have lost everything and have to *start from scratch. *
As the average age of the population is very high , many of the fields that until then were cultivated will no longer be cultivated. The cooperative is trying to carry out a project of land transfer and recovery of the olive grove, to take care of the cultivation of all the fields owned by people who cannot take care of it. In this way we help people maintain their legacy and be able to have our great EVOO for consumption. In addition we avoid the abandonment of land in order to prevent new catastrophes like the one that occurred.
If we want to recover the native olive tree and achieve a sustainable olive grove in the long term, we must reconsider the scarce crop that we have left and replant the burned area. The substitution process must be done following the criteria of ecological cultivation.
The Cooperativa Agrícola Nuestra Señora del Loreto located in Bejís (Alto Palancia, Castellón) was founded in 1947 by 42 members, dedicated exclusively to olive cultivation. Currently we are 170 members and We continue to be as before, a family and entrepreneurial cooperative. We work mainly with the Serrana olive variety, producing high quality oil. Our main characteristic is that we do not mix varieties of olives and we grind in less than 24 hours from the harvest. We carry out analytics and pass strict quality controls that guarantee that our oil is Virgin Extra (EVOO).
Before this catastrophe we were working on innovating in olive production, preparing an early olive oil EVOO of the native variety, whose harvesting takes place during the first days of autumn. From our cooperative we intend to produce an EVOO with a hallmark based on high quality Serrana olives, which we pack in our facilities with our brand “BELGIDIS”.
-PROJECT DESCRIPTION. CHARACTERISTICS AND STRENGTHS.
The olive tree replanting project is based on the Common Management Initiative (IGC) . It is an innovation tool that brings together a group of individuals or legal entities that own plots that, linked to each other through an assignment contract, express their willingness to be considered as a unit for the purposes of setting up a common management plan for the olive grove led by the Cooperative. This initiative is intended to group all the plots at risk to be cultivated through the Cooperative so that their abandonment can be avoided.
-AGRICULTURAL AND PRODUCTIVE APPROACH
This project is the initial phase of a long-term joint land management project that aims not only to recover the area burned by the fire, but also to generate new jobs and reactivate the economy of the population in order to fight against depopulation.
In this first phase, the aim is to carry out the replanting of the first 2 hectares of burned olive groves, for which it is necessary to purchase olive plants of the native Serrana variety, uprooting the burned trees, preparing the land for the plantation, the planting of the olive trees and the installation of its corresponding irrigation system.
Once the planting of the trees is finished, they will proceed to their city through watering, tilling, pruning, etc.
The Bejís cooperative seeks to reinvest and reactivate the productive territory, avoid abandonment and its negative consequences, and contribute to the agricultural and rural development of the area, in addition to improving the profitability of the farms and help business development. It is also intended to generate new jobs, strengthen the marketing lines that had been created before the fire and design other possible ones.
In turn, it will reverse positive effects on the economy in the area, and will activate positive externalities related to agricultural activity such as: maintenance of the landscape, reducing the risk of fires and obtaining a landscape attractive agroforestry with benefits for other economic activities such as tourism and restaurants.
Some of the short and medium term objectives are:
- Replant olive trees in burned areas.
- Replacement of irrigation hoses and pipes.
- Recovery of agricultural land and its activity urgently.
These objectives are activities related to the reforestation of the burned area.
The objective of the Cooperative is to obtain financial help for the purchase of olive plants, hoses for irrigation and labor for the uprooting of burned trees, land preparation and replanting. The project consists of planting and cultivating these fields to obtain EVOO.
The Bejís cooperative firmly believes in the recovery of the territory affected by the fire and that with everyone's help, the town of BEJIS can return to what it was. With this initiative we contribute to environmental care and the prevention of fires that affect not only our territory but also neighboring territories.
In this way, the responsible management of the environment, its rivers and abandoned farms are an increasing need to be able to live in rural territories and guard our green lungs.
Who are we addressing?
- People interested in psychophysical well-being in nature.
- Neighbors to promote practices of sustainable development in the network and to encourage reproducible practices in environments of abandonment.
- People to promote eco-tourism that adds value to elements of rural heritage and small producers.
- Travelers to create a link between local inhabitants and people from other environments, creating an open space for direct contact.
Currently we are 170 members and we continue to be, as before, a family and entrepreneurial cooperative
It is a part of the town, since we are all linked to it. We have formed synergies with associations related to rural tourism and the agricultural sector. In short, we are a population that wants to see the town again as it was.
At the head of the cooperative is Juan Vicente Clemente Pradas, who has held the presidency of the Cooperative for 4 years, a person of an entrepreneurial nature who grows when faced with challenges.
María José Iborra Ortega, administrator of the Bejís Cooperative since 2012, a proactive person with a great capacity for work, organization and management.
Agrarian management: Joan Sanz and Marta Izquierdo are young people who have given up city life to live in the town. And what they would like is to be able to work the land, one of their passions.
Management of the mill: Rosa Alcaide, Amparo Gil and Sonia Rodriguez are women who have been in charge of milling the oil for years. They are in charge of making the extraordinary oil that we have.
The rest of the partners and people who support us in this project to move forward the olive tree of are also part of the team BEJIS