Here we are creating our vision!
Finca Alexandria is located in la Gomera, the second smallest island in the Canary Islands. The Finca has a total surface of about 2.5 ha. of terraced land, at 800 meters above sea level on a hill facing south and partially protected from wind. The land has not been cultivated since 1960 and, as a consequence, the terraces have come down. There is an asphalt road that leads to the plot except for the last 100m, since the Finca is only accessible on foot.
For centuries, wine, fruit trees, cereals and vegetables have been cultivated in terraced land in la Gomera. The breeding of cows, pigs, rabbits, goats, laying hens and sheep was only meant to serve self-sufficiency and barter. Peasants were obliged to leave the island mostly due to economic reasons (building boom, drought). The terraces have not been cultivated since the sixties and now they are almost exclusively used as free pastureland for goats. As a consequence, the natural stonewalls of the terraces are damaged or have completely fallen apart.
The remaining vegetation is now grazed by goats. The water springs were never kept in good condition and run dry. The ground, due to the lack of trees and bushes, is exposed to erosion and therefore raining water runs down too quickly or simply evaporates. Cultivating terraced land seems not to be worth for local peasants. However, Finca Alexandria aims to show that creating a self-preserved and sustainable fruit and vegetable garden in this territory is possible by means of permaculture.
what we are currently building, what have already built, and what we will build
The construction of the infrastructure is the most important step to begin with. First, we built fences to protect the land from goats, also paths and the first natural stonewalls where built, some terraces were restored, and three water-collecting ponds and an irrigation system were created. Several terraces were planted, from which we have already harvested the first potatoes and cabbages. There are more than 60 little fruit trees and 20 walnut trees growing on the plot, as well as vines, herbs, and other perennial plants. We are now working on the construction of several greenhouses for young plants and tree cultivation. And our 10 laying hens have a beautiful home.
In order to finish the Finca following works still need to be completed:
- The construction of further terraces
- Completing the irrigation system
- Medicinal garden with biologists from several universities
- The construction of a kitchen house with a library
- The construction of a refrigerated room
- Raising further eco living spaces
- The construction of a workshop
- The construction of a drying room
- Alternative sources of energy
- Stables for goats and sheep
- Storehouse for hay and animal feed
- Acquisition of animals: 2-4 goats and sheep
- Complete cultivation – Trees, Bushes, Vegetables, Herbs, Animal feed
Our = Who (Alex, friends, helpers and associations)
Alex Banhuber, whose vision has encouraged many people to participate, directs the whole project. The core team is formed by good friends: Sabrina Bosshard, Janine Laube, Patrick Schlecht, Peter Kaiser and Ilde Cruz Cruz, who seasonally work on the Finca; and it is supported by voluntary helpers (Wwoofers and HelpXers). The core team has different craft, social and strategic skills and know-how in the fields of natural stone, wood, and metalworking, as well as in gastronomy and botany. The helpers are involved in the team, acquire a great deal of knowledge and spread our network on the long-term.
We have a good relationship with the local population, we appreciate their knowledge, and we try to involve them in the project as much as possible. Currently, a wide network of communities interested in permaculture, to which the Finca has close contact, is being created and spreading along the Canary Islands. Another important partnership is the “Comunidad de Regantes de Chipude” (irrigation water association of Chipude).
Until now, the acquisition and construction of the Finca has been exclusively financed with private money. Buying the plot of land, technical equipment and building material has entailed the highest spending. The labour force entails no costs, since we only work with voluntary helpers.
The Association Finca Alexandria Switzerland
A non-profit organization was created in 2015 in Switzerland in order to support the Finca. This association is meant to give friends and interested people the possibility to support the Finca financially. The Association provides total support to the Finca and aims at obtaining as many financial resources as possible for the construction and maintenance of the area. No wages are paid with its funding.
Become a member!
Members get 20% off in all services offered by the Finca.
Patrons get 20% off and an additional special dinner in Switzerland.
Vision = what kind of place is the Finca meant to be
The aim of Finca Alexandria is to become a self-preserved and sustainable permaculture meeting place, where acquired knowledge and experiences are shared. The preservation, multiplication and promotion of ancient endemic crops and vegetables, as well as the cultivation of fruit trees, windbreak bushes, fruit bushes and animal feed plants are the centre of attention. Another aim is cultivating, preserving and making known traditional Canarian crops and medicinal plants. The project attempts at showing how an eroded land, which has not been worked for 50 years, can turn into a fertile fruit, vegetable, and herbs garden with a great variety of species by using the appropriate farming method.
On the long term, a community in which its members keep encouraging one another is meant to run the Finca. The Finca should enable self-sufficiency and be a space to pass on knowledge about plants and permaculture economic system. There will be an edible forest, the resources of which will be used sustainably. We take special interest in cultivating healing herbs and medicinal plants as well as in the multiplication and preservation of seeds for the future.
Achieving energetic autonomy (solar and wind energy) on the broad sense is our goal. We also want to create a library that offers visitors and participants a wide range of German literature on botany, medicinal plants, permaculture, social sciences and philosophy in general. All incomes generated by our educational opportunities (guided visits, conferences, workshops, overnight stays) will be invested in maintaining and further developing the Finca.
Our team works since April 2011 in the project Finca Alexandria. The construction of the infrastructure has absorbed most of the time, also the construction of the access road, the terraces, the paths and the water-collecting ponds.
The realization of the complete concept of the Finca, will take, depending on the financial resources, from 15 to 20 years.