In the heart of Ibiza, where vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches dominate the scene, a different kind of revolution is underway. Meet Jessica Dunlop, a visionary farmer who left her London roots behind to embark on a mission to combat climate change and transform the island's food landscape. Through her local wheat farm called Can Purtell and her role as project manager of Banc De Terres D'Evisisa (the Ibiza Land Bank) Jessica is connecting young farmers with available farmland land and cultivating a sustainable future for Ibiza.
From London to Ibiza
Jessica's connection to Ibiza had been established long before she made the island her home. Frequent visits over the years had instilled in her a profound love for the land and its people. However, it was her concern for climate change and the decentralization of food and consumption that ultimately led her to take a leap of faith in 2019 and start her own local farm on the island. Though she was new to the farming world, she carried within her the farming legacy of her great-grandfather. As fate would have it, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown provided Jessica with an unexpected opportunity. She did a deep study and research into the world of agriculture. It was during this time that the seeds of her next venture, Can Purtell, were sown.
Jessica's discoveries during her research were eye-opening. ''Due to COVID, there was time. I was living on top of a mountain and I was going nowhere. I spend a lot of time studying abandoned land on Ibiza. 77% of the island is actually farmland, around 40.000 hectares of which 9.000 of which is being farmed. ‘’There has been a progressive abandonment of farming in favour of tourism, hospitality and real estate. All of that has been a huge impact on the landscape and also the food supply on the island.''
The Face of Change
Jessica's journey didn't stop at starting her farm. She became the face of Banc De Terres D'Eivissa, a program that aimed to support and empower young farmers on the island. Through this program, Jessica has helped bring together a community of young and local farmers, fostering a spirit of collaboration and knowledge sharing. It was about supporting one another rather than competing—a true farm-family bond.
Through her involvement as the project manager of the Soil & Biodiversity program of Banc De Terres D'Eivissa, Jessica has become a source for positive change on the farm world on the island. This program not only assists young farmers in leasing land from private landowners from private owners, but also fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing among them. She has recently started a Soil Health and Biodiversity program which supports farmers that are reactivating disused farmland from Banc De Terres D'Eviissa with building soil health and increasing biodiveristy in their fields during the first 3 years through payments for biodiversity, knowledge sharing and training.
During our conversation, we found ourselves seated amidst the golden wheat fields of Jessica's farm, Can Purtell. The wheat was nearing its harvest, a breathtaking sight that painted the landscape with shades of gold. But, she must say that the farm infrastructure is the biggest challenge on Ibiza. Despite this challenge, Jessica remained undeterred, seeking solutions to overcome the hurdles.
Seeding Sustainable Practices
Can Purtell became her labor of love. Jessica experimented with different species and varieties of crops that had yet to be utilized on the island. She became a pioneer in cultivating these climate-resilient plants. Through the Land Bank, she secured her fher first plot Can Purtell and since then has taken on neighbouring fields. Can Purtell’s long-term goal is to introduce a high-quality, locally grown, organic hay to the island. Jessica dreamed of a day when other farmers would join her in growing hay, knowing that a local market awaited their produce. It was a vision that could reignite the farming spirit, encouraging farmers to reclaim abandoned lands and fostering a sustainable agricultural future for Ibiza. She is now also growing heritage and local variety wheats for milling to provide organic locally grown wheat for bakers and pizza makers on the island.
About Banc De Terres D'Eivissa
Banc De Terres D'Eivissa provides access to land for new farmers and existing farmers who want to expand or diversify their production. It promotes long lasting relationships between landowners and tenant farmers where expectations of both parties are met and there is an agreed use of the land. Since the relaunch of the project in September 2020, 54 hectares of disused farmland are under agro-ecological stewardship by 9 farmers.
We got you Covered
When you book with Covered, we contribute €10 to the Health Soils and Biodiversity Program run by Banc De Terres D'Eivissa. We also ask this from the homeowners (also €10) and from you as a customer. A total of €30 per booking. Together we can make a small difference. We like to give these farmers a hand to make this happen and through this article you will get more insight into the project behind this colaboration.
Pictures are made by @Medsea Studio.