It is difficult to speak of a homogeneous profile among the people who make the leap from the city to the countryside with the desire to start a new life. The economic crisis, with the consequent increase in unemployment and its special impact in the big cities, pushes more and more people to seek a simpler and more harmonious way of life , which requires less means to survive and has more and better prospects for future
Industrialization emptied thousands of Spanish towns in past decades and now the crisis is reversing the process. The rural environment, which has been struggling against depopulation for years, is now becoming the focus of both professionals who can work from anywhere, teleworking , and those who live in the city have been unemployed and They look for an opportunity in the rural world .
Abraza la Tierra is a foundation that provides free advice to people interested in returning to the rural world. Abraza la Tierra is a foundation founded in 2010 that operates in several Spanish autonomous communities (Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Cantabria, Aragón and Extremadura) . It is a non-profit organization and does not charge anyone for its services . Since July 2004, they have been working to settle the population in rural areas, trying to revitalize in this way the social and business fabric of our peoples. They advise and inform people interested in returning to the rural world.
The heavy paperwork
Eva González , her coordinator, clarifies: “We do not give home or work, we inform and help those who arrive in the field free of charge “. But, in addition, they are taught to manage procedures for possible aid , such as the Leader Funds, a program of the European Union that has been promoting business in rural areas since 1991. These aids have added 1,700 million euros between 2007 and 2013; they cover 30% of the capital, but they oblige the interested parties to request bank loans, which are often denied despite having the support of European aid. Last October 31 ended the deadline to apply for these European grants and now we must wait until the new programming period begins, which runs from 2015 to 2020. For this 2014 the applicants will have to settle for state aid, of the Autonomous Communities and the municipalities , which means getting lost in an endless amount of paperwork, with random results. Embracing the Earth also monitors the reception and integration process in the town.
Eva warns that it is misleading to think that there is no crisis in small populations . “In the villages the conditions are more advantageous at the economic level, given that the rents are much lower than in the city and the possibilities of self-employment and housing are much greater,” but he acknowledges that on many occasions there tends to idealize rural life and he forgets that not everything is pure air , birds singing and walks in spring. That is why he emphasizes that “the first thing that must be taken into account when considering the change of life is that it is essential to have a car and driver’s license “.
From Embrace the Earth, they often remind us that, when it comes to looking for opportunities in the field, we must be very clear about where we are going and agree with all the members of the family. From there, they recommend in the organization, they should ask themselves several questions: “What am I going to live in? Can I live with a telework? What am I good at?” .
The type profile are couples with higher education,
of large cities, about 35 years old and without children “ Since 2010 the number of petitions they manage has increased exponentially .” The profile of the typical applicant -describes Gonzalez- are couples with higher education from large cities , especially Madrid, about 35 years and without children . They contact hundreds of us, but many are not in a financial position to change their residence and start a business. “The coordinator of Abraza la Tierra insists that ” life in the countryside is not easy , you have to continue paying bills and it is essential have a life and subsistence project “.
The experience of these support organizations certifies that at present there are few people who can integrate and move forward without problems, in relation to those who want it. There are hardly any offers of employment in the towns, so the options are to open the way by setting up a business of their own .
According to the last census of inhabitants of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) , the population of municipalities with less than 100 inhabitants has increased by 12.9% in the last 10 years, and has also grown, although only 0.2 % , that of the localities between 2,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. In addition, since 1998, year after year, more people leave the cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants to settle in populations of less than 10,000 than those who follow the opposite direction. In any case, the official figures of population movements are scarce , so we can not speak of an exodus to the people.
Agriculture and livestock are the majority occupations in the rural world, although there is a growing tendency to diversify with new business ideas that are being added by the generations that are being incorporated, such as organic farming , rural tourism or companies that work for agriculture. empowerment of appellations of origin .
Social, ecological, vital profitability …
Carmen Ibáñez, together with Andrés and Mario , her husband and son, respectively, undertook a path of no return 10 years ago. Their concern for the human being prompted them to develop, in practice, a model of alternative and sustainable life. This is how El Rincón de los Cerezos was born , in the municipality of Berzocana (in the region of Las Villuercas, province of Cáceres), as a real, practical and viable experience .
It is an enclave of bioagroturismo , with ecological agriculture and livestock, beekeeping and rural house . They offer lodging and food services with the possibility of carrying out courses and workshops that bring the visitor closer to the way of life and work of an agricultural and livestock farm, according to an alternative model of sustainable environmental management . Interested visitors can join the operation of the farm by participating in all their daily activities.
Carmen is emphatic in stating that the family is the one that has brought forward the project that, she says, “is not completely profitable, but barter tools work well, and economically profitable is not a concept that we manage, it is socially profitable , ecologically, vitally, emotionally and, moreover, it is emancipatory , because it allows us to live up to date with dignity “.
It is important not to embark on anything that you can not do with what you have “ Regarding the help they had, Carmen has it clear:” It is important not to embark on anything that you can not do with what you have. We have to rely on social networks , which allow access to land, to know places and people. This facilitates access to rentals, loans or other alternatives to start. Surely there are aids today too, but they are often traps from which you turn badly. “
Regarding the adaptation to his new life, he explains that “everything was much easier than you imagine”. “You can not choose here and you have very different resources for the education of children than in a city, which is sometimes a privilege and sometimes a limitation,” he says.
The project. .. Que Te Quiero Verde is a firm commitment to the recovery of rural mountain areas through their native crops and products . The pink tomato of mountain , cultivated in reduced plots and with rigorously ecological methods, is exceptional and practically unknown in the markets of massive consumption. Its cultivation in La Puebla de Fantova , a small town in the Aragonese Pre-Pyrenees, in the Ribagorza and located 700 meters above sea level, is a first step for the valorisation of uses and methods of traditional crops, through its native products. This way of working has a high added value and, in addition, supposes an important motor of local development for the area.
“Under the brand … Que Te Quiero Verde is intended to produce a limited amount of pink mountain tomato to later distribute it, especially in consumer cooperatives of organic products in Madrid and Barcelona,” says Javier Selva , Madrid photographer and promoter of the project of the Same name as the brand. Javier is the visible head, but only one more of all the people who are working for this project to generate wealth in a territory that struggles to maintain itself: “Consumers are increasingly sensitive to traditionally produced products, in an ecological way and This is why they have supported this idea through the crowfunding platform [ Namlebee collective microfinance], even with more contributions than we requested . ” They asked for 5,000 euros and in forty days they got 5,115.
The distribution of the money is transparent : 3,500 euros will be allocated to the construction and assembly of the greenhouse to protect the plants from frost and hail. Another 1,000 will be dedicated to the system of irrigation and ecological treatment of plants. And 500 are for the purchase of autochthonous plant from the extraction of the best pink mountain tomatoes.
Soon we will launch more news with the men and women of the area “ ” For now, the pink mountain tomato is the only product of . .. That I Love You Green , but soon we will launch more news that have to do with rural tourism and other initiatives with men and women in the area. We will work with people who have decided to bet on living in the mountains and keep their towns and landscapes alive, ” Javier explains, full of pride, and in March and April the soil preparation work will begin:” We will place the plant , depending on the cold and conditions, between April and May, and we hope to eat our first tomatoes in July or early August. “
There are other ways of returning to the rural world, although all have in common the respect for nature and the search for a simpler and more harmonious life . Lost in a corner of the Granada Alpujarra , in the municipality of Cáñar , on a slope of the Natural Park of Sierra Nevada and near Órgiva, is a hippie town called Benefit . Some 200 people of different nationalities live here, on lands bought years ago and organized by permaculture themselves: they alternate in a sustainable and balanced way their homes with plots of cultivated orchards. No alcohol, no hard drugs or weapons , and total respect for nature. And of course, without discrimination based on race, sex or religion . Sharing food is another of its norms and they are strictly vegetarian . But in their own home, each one is free.
They are not the only ones. The self-managed utopia of Lakabe is internationally known. He was born in the eighties as a dream come true. An abandoned and recovered town in the north of Navarre, in an idyllic environment, one hundred percent self-sufficient and offering a high quality of life to its inhabitants, within a philosophy of natural life.
As in Matavenero , a small town at 1,000 meters altitude, in the Bierzo region (León) . His philosophy of life is respect for nature and organic farming . Decisions about the community are made by consensus . Among its inhabitants there is a doctor and a psychologist and they have a school for young children. The elderly go to the school in the nearby town. As they say on their website, Matavenero offers a space where you can get to know yourself, learn from Mother Earth and experience the coexistence of different ways of seeing life.
The peoples lose theirs
The Law of Rationalization and Sustainability of the Local Administration was approved by the Government last July without any consensus and taking advantage of the holiday period. Under the pretext of saving and rationality, a total of 3,200 smaller entities and 1,024 mancomunidades will be dismantled . This means that rural public services – previously managed directly in the villages – are diverted to Provincial Councils . Another of its consequences has even more importance and repercussion: the natural resources that belong to the towns, the communal goods, mountains, lands, etc., will also pass into the hands of the Provincial Councils . This means that, subsequently, the large private companies of agribusiness , tourism and services may manage and benefit from the heritage of all.