Gardening

Visit to the Huerta de Montecarmelo: Orchards in Madrid

Very good to all Agrohuerters. Today I am going to tell you about the visit I made back in April to the Montecarmelo garden, a very special garden initiative of the Carmen Pardo-Valcarce Foundation that works for the participation of people with intellectual disabilities in our society.

Personal Keepers Montecarmelo

The garden of Montecarmelo

In case you don’t know, the Montecarmelo garden is a private garden, customers rent their 20 m 2 plot for the modest amount of €91.5/month and a yearly fee of €165… This amount can be high for certain pockets, but you are not only paying to have your urban garden in Madrid with everything that a garden requires: labour, seed and seedlings, installation of drip irrigation, water, technical advice, anti-weed mesh, structures against the cold and a very long etc… If not, you are also contributing to the project of the Carmen Pardo-Valcarce Foundation, a very important social task.

Workers in the Huerta de Montecarmelo of the Carmen Pardo Foundation – Valcarce

The truth is that as a retirement gift or a special birthday, it is worth giving away the possibility of cultivating an urban garden and at the same time collaborating in a social project that integrates people with intellectual disabilities, seeing it from that perspective is not expensive at all.

In addition, the Montecarmelo orchard includes other structures such as a dovecote and a chicken coop, each 20 m 2 plot has a different architecture and layout of the terraces and wonderful views, the countryside in the city, on the one hand you can see the mountains and on the the other large buildings… Within the complex there are also tennis and paddle tennis courts, a bar… Come on, you certainly won’t get bored there.

The visit to Montecarmelo

My colleague, Lucía Muñoz, visited the Huerta de Montecarmelo facilities some time ago. She can tell you more about how the orchard works, the ecological management they do, and the benefits that customers who pass by acquire… I want to focus on how It was my walk through the Montecarmelo orchard with José and Juan Francisco, two real cracks who explained to me from top to bottom all the work they did together with their other 13 colleagues in the 201 orchards of 20 m 2 that there are in the Montecarmelo orchard.

These guys known as «Personal Keepers» are the true joy of the garden as they are in continuous contact with customers and take care of their gardens when they can’t go. Honestly, I think it’s really crazy to take care of 4,020 m2 of land between 15 people, plus of making the seedbeds, tilling the terraces, adding compost to them and being attentive to the suggestions or requests of the clients, advising them on what is advisable to plant at different times, etc… The work of these gentlemen has a lot of merit.

The truth is that I really enjoyed walking together with them through the Montecarmelo orchard, we took a look at a lot of orchards, some empty, others full of things, how there are always customers of all kinds, some go more, others go less and that is note in the crops that are in the orchards… But in general, the very compliant and religious clients spend at least once a week to work a little in their orchards together with these «personal keepers».

When I visited the Montecarmelo orchard, at the end of April, they were still finalizing the winter crops, peas and beans, endives, garlic, onions, lettuce of various kinds and especially a lot of red chard was the predominant note in the Montecarmelo orchard.

I was struck by the fact that almost no one left this composition of crops, there was some loose tree species, some cactus lost but little else, almost all the orchards of the 201 had a very similar composition, which indicates the good work of these «personal keepers» by correctly advising on the crops that should be planted in winter, in this way not only does the client obtain a good and ecological product, but for them the work is much easier as they do not have to make seedbeds of a thousand different species and having to plant very different things in each garden. And being 15 people for 201 orchards, the truth is that it is appreciated that clients allow themselves to be advised in this aspect and do not ask for things that are too special…

Now, with spring, the Montecarmelo orchard will take a 180º turn, the terraces with peas and broad beans will become multi-class tomatoes, because, as they told me, they were already making seedbeds of such different varieties as: barbastro rose, cherry, kidney ox, crimean black, black leg… With such a variety of horticultural species, each orchard will vary greatly in terms of shape and composition, which will give a very curious mosaic that is well worth seeing.

The truth is that if you have time and money, the Montecarmelo orchard is a good way to invest in leisure, health and, incidentally, participate in a social project. You will be able to meet incredible people like José and Juan Francisco and enjoy all their knowledge and company when working in your garden,

All the best

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