This year has been very rich within the volunteer community at La Donaira.

In “the Nido” on the farm lives a dynamic team of 8 to 12 volunteers, more commonly referred to as “the Woofers”, a bunch of international volunteers helping La Donaira in all possible fields of action. This year was filled with passion, exciting projects, novel dynamics and many incredible friendships.

We’ve built two new gardens from scratch, The Jedi garden has been started in February 2018. This garden is cast into a rocky terrain over a 200m2 area, and has been integrated into the landscape in a very unique design. Any visitor would feel as if hiking up a trail on the mountain rather than being in a garden, and yet it is a place where anyone can harvest kales, radishes, carrots, salads, rutabagas, mountain savoury, fennel, aubergines, beetroots and tomatoes from beds all around.

The Jedi Garden. Beds named from left to right: Jabba the Hut, Ewok, Chewbacca, Luke, Princess Leia, Han Solo, R2D2.

On the other side of “the Nido” we have built the Patata Garden. In a blink of an eye its function is revealed: growing productively healthy organic fruits and vegetables. Permaculture techniques, Fengshui and a lot of good energies have been gathered and released through its creation since March 2018. This garden is set upon a 500m2 former cow ranch, where cow manure had been accumulated and compacted into the ground for the last 5 years. Located between the Nido and the Horse stables for a synergetic use of the manures, the garden has already produced 80% of the volunteers self-sufficiency in summer vegetables its first year, and the second year is planned to triple its production. These two gardens surrounding the Nido, alongside with the already existing medicinal garden and vegetable garden in the Hotel are the opportunity to share a priceless tour about permaculture and all its components: water management, growing techniques, beds formation, soil fertilization…

Antoine from France, working on the “Dan Tian” of la Patata : central power of the garden.

One random Saturday rainbow summer harvest.

In March 2018 we have been making our own lip balm: with bee wax from our beehives, olive oil from our olive trees and essential oils. Volunteer Marten from Canada worked on this project, and since then we kept on producing in small amounts. The lip balm production that did not pass the quality check is used to wax the wooden tables, or even waxing our leather!

In September 2018 we have planted our very first four avocado trees. Around the Patata Garden the planting turned into an ecstatic ceremony to wish the best to our baby offspring (See the journal entry, Fresh Avocado) …

Since October 2018 Valérie from Germany is the new Farm Tour Manager. She is in charge of showing the farm around to our clients, and she also works hand in hand with Ortega, Francisco and Jacinto — the three animal herd masters on the farm. She is both gaining and passing the knowledge she is acquiring on the farm, and can lead you through to pick up the chicken eggs and walk around goats and sheep under utmost care, knowledge and safety.

A happy-family farm tour in la Donaira.

Led by Louise, our Dutch horse volunteer, our first batch of homemade soap came out the chemistry lab in November! Made with our own olive oil produced on site, our own herbs from the gardens, and our own clay from La Donaira’s soils, the first batch of soaps is more than promising! We just need to wait for permissions to upgrade the small production into a bigger one to become a soap-self-sufficient hotel.

Led by Eric and Xafi from France, new walking/biking routes were designed for our clients since September 2018: guests will have the chance to discover those tracks by themselves or with a guide. Bikers must have prior experience since the terrain is difficult!

Woofers Keenan(USA), Devon (Canada) and Maxime (France) planting signs for the new rutas.

Our path-maker Keenan from the USA has built a path to the top of the mountain…! By foot or on a horse, directly to the top of the summit! This is one epic journey leading to a majestic 360-degree view of la Serranía de Ronda. This is La Donaira’s new present to all horse lovers for 2019.

As for this year 2019, we will mainly focus our strengths on the new intensive food production garden that our woofer Andrew has started; alongside with more woofer trainings to give the best on-site experiences possible to our guests.

If you are interested in volunteering in La Donaira to work in gardens, construction, cuisine, or with our clients, contact us on www.ladonaira.com or directly via email: voluntariado@ladonaira.com. Looking forward to meeting you !