Martijn log

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Quick Intro

I'll be developing a diversified small-scale organic farm near the town of Biar, Spain starting in April 2017. First year goals include:

  1. placing a shipping container for use as workshop / storage (no longer relevant)
  2. building an OSE inspired aquaponics greenhouse up against the container (no longer relevant)
  3. chicken, rabbit and oyster mushrooms systems
  4. bio-intensive 'no-till' drip-irrigated vegetable gardens using Jean-Martin Fortiers methods (see:

Thu Mar 23, 2017

Settling in

My partner and our two young kids moved into a rented apartment in Biar, Spain, at the start of March and are settling in quickly. So far I have;

  1. narrowed our farm property search down to 2 preferred options (NOTE: you need a minimum of 10,000m2 of rural property in order to get a building permit). Essential point for us are 1) close to town 2) access to irrigation water 3) decent soil 4) fairly flat or at least properly terraced 5) decent views
  2. met with the person responsible for agriculture and commerce in the local municipality and outlined my ideas for a small-scale sustainable farm- got very positive feedback. They say this is exactly the kind of innovative investment they hope to attract in order to develop and repopulate rural areas. She said she will help me get EU funding for my project through the LEADER program (, the next phase of which will start in about 2 months. (no longer relevant)
  3. Spoke quickly with someone at the municipality's technical office inquiring about regulations w/ regards greenhouse construction and small-scale animal husbandry as well as aquaponics and alternative building (I'm leaning towards pre-fab strawbale panels from a Spanish building coop (see ) (no longer relevant)
  4. Sent an email to the technical office after speaking with them in which I outlined my plans and asked a series of specific questions. That was 3 weeks ago and I havn't had a response yet despite 'popping my head in' to their office to remind them twice. NOTE: I've had feedback from a few sources indicating that the technical office and the head-architect are both slow & incompetent as well as strict.

Wed Jan 24, 2018

Finally starting

So we're almost a year on and finally we have the property we've been looking for. Instead of buying an empty piece of land we've gone for an off-grid house on a 2 hectare property (click here for image: Bureaucracy delayed the purchase for 6 months during which time I've been an anxious house-husband dealing with our 2 young children while my partner has been earning a salary. Advantages are that we (a) have moved in straight away 3 weeks ago and I am on-site 24/7, (b) no house building distraction, (c) irrigation water is laid out already to key parts of the farm.

Things I've done over the past month;

  • moving in & home improvement (insulating, painting, electrical stuff, putting together IKEA furniture, etc.)
  • harvesting the 150 olive trees that the previous owner wasn't bothered to harvest. A nice bonus income! It took 70man-hours. We collected around 1500kgs of olives which I sold for EUR 1,431.
  • started pruning both the olive trees as well as other trees on the property.
  • started designing the basic lay-out of the vegetable garden and staked out the 1st of the 4 plots I hope to bring under cultivation over the coming 9 months. Each plot has 8 beds that are all 75cms wide and 20meters long.
  • began clearing the plot of rocks and started digging the raised beds this morning. Current estimate is that it takes 12hrs to prep 1 bed x8 beds p/plot = 96hours p/plot. Thats 1 person working with only hand tools.

Things I'll be doing / thinking about over the coming month;

  • try to average 15hrs p/week prepping the garden beds
  • try to average 5hrs p/week pruning trees and hedges.
  • Greenhouse project (for aquaponics and seedlings) - where to locate it? how large should it be? how to heat it (remember I'm off-grid)? How to power it?
  • design & build first of many chicken coops. Design needs to be portable and no higher than 1.5m in order to avoid issues with local regulations.