The average age of the heads of agricultural projects in Catalonia is 62.5 years old. A decade from now, many farmers will be retired, and many of them lack a generational successor to continue working the land.
La Beneta is the agricultural project of Marta Valls, Pepe González and Gemma Raventós: we are three young people who have decided to take over the organic fruit and olive farm of the farmer Joan Raventós in Hostalets de Pierola. We want to avoid the loss of agricultural hectares in the village were we were born, create a respectful project with the enviorment and make known the importance of agriculture for the preservation of our rural and ecological environment.
The sector is at a critical juncture, mainly due to the low profitability of agricultural farms, because of the power of large producers and distributors when setting prices. Most of the family farming projects have disappeared or have a good chance of disappearing in the coming years. Seeing that the trees that had been part of our environment were about to be abandoned - Joan was retiring and had no one wanting to continue the business - so, we decided that we didn't want that to happen.
The agricultural activity practiced on an extensive, with organic basis and in family-sized business structures has positive environmental consequences for the environment. We firmly believe that small farming is an essential actor in the fight against climate change and the environmental management of rural areas. In addition, with its disappearance, Catalonia and Europe face a difficulty in the supply of local and sustainable products, the loss of cultural identities and agricultural traditions and the problem of managing the environment of the rural or mountain areas.
If there are no farmers, who should take care of forests, flora and fauna, roads and forest fire prevention? The globalized market and an economic model that exploits the land intensively has disconnected us from the countryside. The small farming model collides head-on with intensive food production that destroys biodiversity, and abuses farmers who work the land. We believe that making projects like La Beneta possible is a political and environmental action for the future.
To make the Beneta a real fact we need to face an investment that is too big for our individual financial capacity, and since we strongly think that the project is worth it beyond our personal interest we ask you to join us. The rewards are designed so that we can meet and together generate a space of knowledge of farming.
The specific objective of the campaign is to finance the first major investment we have: Planting young, drought-resistant trees is essential for the viability of the project. There are fields on the farm where the trees are dead or unproductive due to the great drought that is affecting us. Planting peach and apricot trees with a drought-resistant foot will help us be more resilient in the future. There will be 460 peach trees and 310 apricot trees. We will reap the rewards, if all goes well, in four or five years.
As far as Beneta is concerned, it is - or wants to be - work in the field in the world of the 21st century. And it has as its founding objectives:
Taking over an agricultural project built with a lot of love, thus avoiding its abandonment.
Improve the quality of the land we work on, take care of it to return the organic matter and biodiversity it had before the implementation of chemical and pesticide agriculture.
Offer local and quality food products to the local market.
Manage the environment in which we work: maintain paths, banks, water courses, and firebreaks against fires.
Help pollinators, giving them shelter and food, keys to maintaining biodiversity.
Carry out educational work to extend the knowledge of the rural and agricultural environment to children and adults.
And, obviously, to live in a dignified way as farmers.
The project is aimed at all those who want to support local and organic food production, to build a food production and distribution system that is much more respectful for the environment and the people who produce it. Sustainability happens to feed us eating food coming from the place where we live and make the lives of those who lend us the essential goods (whatever they may be) dignified.
At La Beneta we also want to provide knowledge about farming, land management and knowledge of the environment, so being there can be a fun and educational option for those who want to know more about nature and farming through the various activities that we will organize throughout the year.