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MORAN: A sense of community around the farmers markets of Spain

January 25, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


November 16th is my date of birth. It also happens to be the date that I left Canada to explore the country of Spain. I began my trip in Barcelona, near Spain's northern border. I have bounced along down the Mediterranean Coast, escaping the cold, and am nearly at Spain's most southern border.

This region is named after a trendy antioxidant-rich tropical fruit. Pomegranate translates to Granada in Español. Granada is the name of the nearby major city and also the name of the surrounding province. I am staying in a village named Órgiva.

Órgiva is the first town I've been to where you can find at least a few people who speak English at every bar. The population of Órgiva and the surrounding Apuljarran valley (the Apuljarra is this region of the heavily subdivided Sierra Nevada mountain range) is probably up to a third non-Spanish. Órgiva attracts temporary and permanent residents who are seeking an alternative lifestyle, from transient dreadlocked backpackers to permanent residents living off the grid.

The Apuljarra is also the epicenter for WWOOF España. WWOOF is a collective of small organic farms and volunteers. Through this group, I have worked on four farms across Spain in exchange for room and board. This region has a higher concentration of hosts than any other in the country.

The high volume of WWOOFing is a byproduct of a friendly and open-minded atmosphere. One thing the people here are not is extremely wealthy. Instead, they are happy, healthy, sociable, and very welcoming. This applies equally to the native Spaniards and the residents of Northern European descent.

The sense of community can best be experienced at the local farmers market. The main plaza in town will be filled up with mostly organic produce grown on the surrounding hillsides. The streets will be overflowing with tables set outside from the surrounding cafes, bars, and restaurants as everyone gathers for their weekly social. This is a great meeting of minds where most people are practicing responsible, low-impact lifestyles abundant in solar power, compost, vegetarianism, and dogs. Everyone has at least two.

To the south is the Mediterranean Coast. To the north are the tallest mountains on Continental Spain (the tallest is on one of the Canary Islands). Most days there is a haze of humidity preventing visibility beyond 15-20 kilometers.

However, once in a while, the air is clear and from a high point a person can easily see Africa.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom


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