It’s Green Postcards Blog’s very first European feature! Could there be a better way to start than with two gorgeous (and well-priced) villas overlooking a Spanish mountain range? Finca Al-Manzil is hidden on the sunny slopes of the Sierra de Montanchez, surrounded by olive and fig trees. Roman and Muslim ruins are only short hikes away along centuries-old paths. The villas offer a secluded home-base for exploring Spain’s Extremadura.
Finca Al-Manzil’s owner, Pippa Sharman, says that the entire property is powered by a self-tracking solar system. They keep their energy use down with efficient light bulbs and by skipping the air conditioning. (“We keep the houses cool by closing shutters and having a natural air flow,” Pippa says.) They lower their over-all carbon footprint by eschewing cars for horses during trips to the village.
Those horses are quite the environmentalists, by the way. They eat grass and acorns from the grounds (“…thus avoiding buying expensive and environmentally dubious animal feed,” says Pippa), and their manure fertilizes the on-site vegetable garden and fruit trees. Grey-water from the villas keeps the garden watered.
Al-Manzil uses non-toxic cleaning supplies, and the pool is cleaned with a salt-water system. The villas are similarly earth-friendly. In addition to traditional terracotta roof tiles and themic clay bricks, the woodwork comes from “locally grown and seasoned” chestnut, Pippa reports.
Pippa says she’s proud of the way they’ve cultivated Finca Al-Manzil’s woodlands. Three times a year they prune the trees and use the waste for firewood in the winter.
She would like to see her neighbors adopt more organic approaches as well. She’s concerned by the herbicide farmers use to kill the foliage under their olive trees, in order to make harvesting easier. “Instead, we encourage the use of ground sheets at harvest time and goats or sheep to crop the grass the rest of the year.” In the future, she’d like to start an organic olive oil facility in neighboring Montachez, to encourage local olive groves to go organic.