|The flat green fields we can see from the Corredera.|
The Las Lomas site, originally part of the Medina Sidonia empire, was purchased in 1900 by José Mora Figueroa y Daza, the seventh Marquis of Tamarón, who named it ‘La Finca de La Janda.’ In 1910, it passed to his eleven sons.
|Drained wetlands, and now fertile growing areas.|
His dream wasn't achieved easily, but by 1967, the area was finally drained using Dutch technology, and developed as high-quality farmland, part of a business empire which has made its owners one of the wealthiest families in Andalucía. Las Lomas, stretching between Vejer and Benalup, is now among the great latifundias of Andalucía and one of the most extensive farming organisations in Spain, a modern and highly mechanised set-up, which boasts, among other things, the largest leek-processing shed in Europe. Its cattle bloodlines are said to be the finest in Spain.
Las Lomas was one of the sites enjoyed by General Franco, who visited every year to hunt and enjoy the prospect of a peaceful countryside. Witnesses remember him travelling slowly from Madrid with his escort, rather like a Royal Progress, and have commented on the insensitivity of his people, who, in those times of hunger, shot hundreds of animals in a single day, and joked that they were 'tired of eating'. Many local people enjoyed having their photo taken with the Caudillo.
|General Franco enjoys a quiet sojourn on the hill that was made for him, |
'La Cuesta de Franco'.
In tandem with the reclamation of the land came modernisation and mechanisation, and this intensified at the turn of the century as local workers moved away to live in other areas. The processing plant we visited was opened in 1988.
|A pheasant takes its time crossing the road.|
|Las Lomas doesn't use wooden packaging, but outside organisations sometimes prefer it.|
|Miguel Ángel Romero with some of Las Lomas' organic produce.|
|Immaculate cauliflowers for export to the UK|
|Boxes waiting to be filled with grapefruit for export.|
Las Lomas produces a range of vegetables including some, like parsnips and kale, which are hard to find in Spain. There's a beautifully juicy red grapefruit and spring greens, rarely seen in the shops here. Leeks are Las Lomas' biggest seller, though they weren't in season yet. Last year, Las Lomas sold 1.4 million leeks, and orders for this year are already up to 1.9 million. A chart on the wall reveals which of the women were the champion leek processers last season.
|A well-organised space.|
|The first tractor was introduced into the complex from the UK in the 1950s.|
|The watering machine creeps slowly across the fields, providing a carefully |
metered supply according to temperature.
|Spanish sparrows in a field of wheat.|
In the past, Las Lomas was a thriving small community, and about 150 people still live there. There's a large manor house which accomodates the present owner, José Mora Figueroa, a descendant of the Tamarón family and also a member of the Domecq family from Jerez. A secondary school for country children was opened in 1970 and has strong links with the company, which manages an organic garden for the school and offers support to its students. And the Prince of Wales comes regularly to play polo on the competition ground. There's a lot more to that stretch of flat land than meets the eye.
For information about the birds of La Janda:https://theresagreen2.wordpress.com/habitats/open-countrysidefarmland/la-janda/la-janda-bird-
Thanks to Marcel Snyders for the photos.