The Heart of our Valley
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Photographs by Rachel Fox
Nestled in the heart of the Soller Valley is the soul of the place. Many people enjoy this area for the seaside and the mountains, others for the shopping and great food and still more for all the activities on the door step. While all this business goes on the heart still beats with age old traditions and in the dip of the mountain where Biniaraix meets the Fornalutx road all is revealed.
The oil press is the first sign that you are in different world and parking your car in the Agricole car park begins the visit to the real heart of the Soller Valley. This is a world of olives, oranges, lemons and many fruits and vegetables grown right here. The shop is open daily and many people do their weekly shopping not in a supermarket but on their doorstep. They buy fruit with a carbon footprint of 5 minutes as the produce comes from the market gardens that surround it. Wine is decanted from casks into plastic bottles and there are many here who simply won’t drink anything else.
This place reflects what we do well here and the Valley of the Oranges is introduced to another generation of people who get to understand the heartbeat of the place. The Agricole has lived to tell its tale by the efforts of local people who do not want their traditions and history to die. Did you know that this is the place that all the local smallholdings in the mountains bring their olive crop for pressing?
The pressings are either individual or collective and they all have a story. Some of the local hotels organize olive picking for their guests and then they take what they have picked to the Agricole and have their own personal pressing. The oil they take away bottled is under their own name and gives them great pleasure to have been part of the full process.
Capvespre also live on this site and is another group dedicated to making past skills live and be incorporated into 2016. Capvespre are a government funded environmental and conservation organization that share the Agricole’s space. They host meetings, seminars and create interest into the rural, self sufficient world of Majorca. They host Marmalade workshops and teach folk to bottle and preserve the gluts of fruit and vegetables that are grown here. Local people send their children here to learn the traditions of the past and many holiday makers join the classes. This is a wonderful facility and every year they bring new courses and subjects to the people who are interested.
The year starts for Capvespre on 1st February 2016 and from then on they have special tasting mornings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call into the shop and taste the local dishes on offer and learn how to incorporate them into your favourite recipes. The staff here are delighted to share their local knowledge and products with you.
As you head out of the door please don’t get in your car and drive away. Just across the road in the same area is the orchard “Sa Vinyassa”, with 18.000 m2 of orange and lemon trees to share with you. This is another privileged spot, under the impressive rocks of the Alfabia ridge, between Fornalutx and Biniaraix. Please stay awhile and walk the orchards and get to know the history of the orange trees of Sóller. You will enjoy a peaceful environment and a special micro-climate, while you are served a ’just squeezed’ organic orange juice, and a typical snack.
The Agricole, Capvespre and Sa Vinyassa are treasures of our world and pull us back to where it all started. This is the bounty that created wealth and industry and exports to Europe and beyond. This is where the life source of the Soller Valley was created. Many people here understand this very well and are anxious that local children do too. They are gratified that day trip visitors and holiday makers find their way to the edge of Biniaraix to see all this for themselves.
I would urge you to have a trip to the Soller Valley this spring. Spend time in this trio of delights between Soller and Fornalutx and I guarantee that your first visit wont be your last. Add on to the visit lunch in Soller, the Port or in Fornalutx and you have the perfect day trip. If you make the journey by train, then you will have touched many of the unique places in our Valley in one day.
The Agricole is unusual because its not a museum or theme park but local people living from their land in time honoured tradition. They are delighted to share this with you and I am very happy to share the news.