My name is Amanda, I work at Naranjas del Carmen and today I had the opportunity to accompany Fede, team leader in the field at our farm El Carmen.
Note: the working hours vary depending on the season. As the summer is hot, to avoid heat waves, they start at 6:30 am, have a break at 9:30 am and finish at 3:00 pm. The rest of the year, they start at 8:00 am, take 2 breaks and finish at 5:45 pm.
8:00 am Team meeting to plan the tasks of the day. We start by eliminating the tomato plants that we had planted during summer between the rows of orange trees. We crush the plants and plow the land. Plowing is an effective measure to allow better water flow. We control the number of times we do it per year to prevent the natural structure of the soil.
10:00 a.m Time for lunch. Fede and some field workers go to the village cafeteria, other field workers take their break in the field. A good sandwich, olives, peanuts and coffee. It’s only been two hours, but fieldwork makes you very hungry. Lunchtime is a great time to share experiences with other farmers. Older farmers reminisce about past times, pass on their knowledge or get angry about the price the intermediaries charge them.
10:35 Fede and his team load the compost onto the tractor trailer and head to a plot of orange trees to spread the compost we prepared in Campillo de Julia. There are “cracks” in the soil near the trees that they made a few days ago. These “cracks” intentionally cut partially the roots, which makes the trees form more new roots. This makes it easier to absorb and transport nutrients and water. We try to drive the tractor only in rows where the soil is dry to avoid soil compaction, which makes it difficult for roots to access nutrients. Fede coordinates this field work and checks the consistency of the compost.
14:00 We take our second and final break. This meal is usually lighter than lunch. Some people take the opportunity to pick up their children from school and eat with them at home.
15:00 Fede’s phone rings. A leak has been discovered in the irrigation system and Fede comes immediately to fix it. All the irrigation pipes are checked regularly for clogs and leaks. After all, even the smallest hole can waste our most precious resource: water.
17:30 Fede asks his team to collect and clean the tools they used during the day. As the team changes from work boots to shoes or sneakers, Fede takes note of the tasks accomplished during the day.
Fede warned me that we wouldn’t be bored and we weren’t. No two days are alike in Fede’s life in the field. On this day, his cell phone rang several times whether it was to ask him questions about how to solve a problem in the field or the next task on the work list. He always answered with confidence and, as a good leader, set an example for the team. If someone has to get his hands dirty, he is the first to do so.
Fede’s favorite time of year is the orange harvest. Being a native Valencian, I guess it’s in his blood. I am also very curious to see what the beginning of the harvest will look like.