I have this project
that you can read on this link:
But I wanted to go into details about the property situation and your ideas on how to work the hole property.
We are located in Denia (and this is important) a mediterranean town. It has been an important town since the greeks and the romans, due to it's fishing and hunting around, and the development of agriculture. But in we had two "booms" wich made the town (now, more a small city
- 45k inhabitants - than a town) to pivot full throttle into the touristic model. First, in the 60s, the so called "desarrollismo", where Franco Dictatorship wanted to open itself to the world, and replaced the old generals in the government with the so called "technocrats" to develop the country , investing in public corporations and touristic campaigns and construction. This, in the 60s , made in Denia a first boom of development around the sea with horrible buildings and all that involves. Then, in the 2000, the "brick and mortar boom", when the now democratic government impulsed the mortgages market and credit, so everybody wanted to have a "close to the beach apartment" going into debt etc. This intro is important for my situation.
My property was bought by my great grandmother, and then given as a gift
to my grandma. It was a gift because it had a citrus plantation and my grandparents made also a small farm with cows (my grandad was from Cantabria, where everybody wants to have cows). At that time, it was very well located. Isolated, but not far away from some rural roads that connected it to Denia's downtown and to La Xara (another close town, smaller). The growth of Denia in the 60s did not affect us, but the one in the 2000s made the town grow with some industrial development in the old rural road, with industrial estate around. We are in between worlds. When I cross the house door in the morning and look straight, I see some other small houses (4) and, after those, the first buildings of the town. If I look to my left, I see more rural properties, and, further, some beach buildings, but as something in a convenient distance. If I look to the back part of the house, I see rural properties, citrus plantations and mountains. And if I look to my right, I see industrial estate. So we are in a crossroads in between worlds.
And it is easy to think
that, if some day everything goes nuts again with urban development, we are the nexts (with some neighbours) to be "conquered".
Well, my grandma worked with the citrus, and then there was a big agriculture crisis, so she stopped working the land
and then she died.
The original property was 3 hectares (wich was a "big" plantation there, because the "minifundios" system, there are lots of small owners). 1 hectare was inherited by my father. But this includes the one big house, one small and some parts for recreational uses (swimming pool, garden, etc) wich occupy 0.7ha. And 0.3ha of "abandoned orchard"). 1 hectare belongs to what is called a "comunidad de
bienes", wich is a shared property, belonging 25% for each brother, my father included. So it is my father, two brothers and my cousin (cause my aunt died last year). This 1 ha is abandoned orchard and nothing else. This "Community" has to be undivided for 10 years since my grandma died, so in August 2024 any of the brothers could ask for the division. And 1 ha was part expropiated by the Town Hall for a road to the beach, part sold, and part is a small piece of isolated land. So not useful (and belongs to this "comunidad").
My grandma considered that agriculture was dead (with a lot of pity) and gave the house to my father because he was the only one who was helping with it's cost (is a more than 100 year old house), and the "abandoned orchard" was of little value.
There are no visible marks or borders between properties. We know where our part (my dad's) ends with very official measures (from this rock to this pine tree to this wall) but we can freely walk around. And in fact, my dad is the admin of the Comunidad and he can decide what use to give it. My uncles have no special interest on it, dont enjoy it, they have their lives. They put money every year for cleaning dry weeds in summer (danger of fires) and pay some town taxes, that's all.
Also, there is an important thing. The old tree grove is PROTECTED by the local
government, wich means that those trees
can't be taken out and you can't build anything on a diameter of 27m around each tree.
As you can see on the link that I placed at the beginning of the post, me and my brother had always the idea on recovering the agricultural use of the house. It was a shame for us, and for our family memory, to leave it just that way. So we started to play with the 0.3ha that it is at our free disposal. So there is where I am doing things and learning. And that is good.
But now, and here comes your part, we'd love to start working in the "Family Community" hectare.
So, where is the problem, if your dad is the admin? You might think. And you might be right... but the problem is in... LOCAL POLITICS
In the Mediterranean, most of politicians have the "tourism mindset" and they think that agriculture is not good anymore and that tourism is the only way (wich is false, and it is also not good anymore, but they have this mindset, maybe is generational, my grandma and her mother thought that "agriculture was the only way" and they never questioned it). And the town has plans
to change the land classification in the area.
I don't know how it goes in other countries. But in Spain, you can have four types of land:
- Rural, wich means that you can only use it for agriculture or farming. Wich is the current status
- Industrial, wich means that you can only use it for industrial estate
- Urban, wich means that are buildings and well, streets, and all that you can find in a city
- And "Urbanizable" wich means that it is not urban yet but, if all the owners in an "to be urban" area want to develop something, they can make it urban paying for it.
And well, the town has plans
to make "urbanizable" our land and other neighbours land. This does not mean that it is going to be urban development any time soon, it can also happen that nobody wants to make it urban. This is a long process and with a lot of steps and legal issues and me and some neighbours are fighting to leave it as rural. Anyway, if something happens, it is unlikely to happen in the next 10-20 years.
BUT, the only suspicion about a land becoming "urbanizable" makes the land increase its value. And here comes the thing.I need you with the brainstorming. How could I work the whole property?
1. I could just start tomorrow working it and planting trees. Without asking permision. And if enough
time passes, this trees could be considered and ecological value and part of the protected tree grove. My uncles will not notice, they don't even come. I could have right now lions and dinosaurs there, they will not know. But, what if I start to work there and in August 2024 they want to divide it? Or, what if they dont want to divide it, but some day they just want to sell
it, if everything becomes urban land? My work will be destroyed.
2. I could offer something to my uncles and cousin for using the whole land. Something that locks any future use. But it will cost me something. I mean, if I want to tell them "look, I need this to be not touched for 20 years", they will ask for some rental or whatever.
3. Or I can try to buy them out. The possible reactions are unknown. Maybe some of them can think that this is a rural land and it will be forever (wich is what it is today) and sell it for rural price, wich is affordable. Or maybe some of them think that it is going to be super expensive with the urban thing and dont want to sell it for rural price because they might be expecting to earn a lot of money
4. I could also use it as a learning lab for me, and instead of moving full time there (I divide my time between Denia and Madrid) with my family, I could take whatever I am learning and buy another property in a more isolated are with less people
around and less potential development danger. This is tempting, although I have two problems with it. One is that I promised my grandma before she died that I would take care of the property (my grandme was IN LOVE with her house, she loved every tree, every flower, every orange, although she stopped working it, she loved the persimmons, and the figs, and the birds, nothing was more important for her), so there is this promise and the sentimental value (wich I'm sure you can understand, being this a community
of romantics) And two, somehow I want my property to be an example for permaculture
, agroforestry etc, and I think that my location can be good to make people SEE WITH THEIR EYES (they can see it from the road) that you can do different things with your property, and that it can be an alternative to tourism. I don't want to break my promise and my emotional link, but also don't want to deal with family ambitions (wich I consider legit, in the end they are not even there anymore, so why do they want to keep an abandoned orchard?) and it is very tiring to fight with politicians
So, if you have arrived here and you are not bored... What do you think? Any idea of how to proceed to keep on with the project and extend my agroforesty acquired knowledge to more land? I know that here I can find people who has worked and started cool projects without having, at the start, all the property they wanted. So maybe you could give me ideas!