Can Serafí is a 4 hectare farm located 50 km. northeast of Barcelona along the Mediterranean coastline. For centuries its south-facing slopes have been farmed, most recently with a conventional production of strawberries and peas, which thrive in an ideal microclimate for year-round agricultural output. It enjoys abundant water from four wells and a 10 million litre water tank at the top of the property.
The farm can be easily reached by public transport or car from the major Catalan cities of Barcelona and Girona and their high speed train stations and airports. A creek winds down from the forested Montnegre i el Corredor Natural Park above, passes by the farm, and can be followed by foot or bicycle 1 km. to the village Sant Cebrià de Vallalta and then another 4 km. to reach sandy beaches and the nicest town of the Maresme coast, Sant Pol de Mar. The local council is planning to declare the creek a green corridor and promote it as a hiking path connecting the park to the sea.
Ca l’Aulet, considered Catalunya’s most inspiring alternative school, is situated on the property just below Can Serafí. Every school day 100 children from ages 3 – 12 arrive to experience the highly-respected “educación viva” pedagogical approach of its director, Jordi Mateu.
At Can Serafí we will create a small community project based on three pillars: Land, Education, and Solidarity. Here we will put more carbon into the soil than the atmosphere all the while growing delicious food; regenerate the depleted soil into an ecologically vibrant and agriculturally productive one; offer cutting edge social and ecological courses and events; live and work together based on newly emerging organisational models; and practice solidarity with people who have a lot to offer our society.
* Regenerative Agriculture: integrating annual and perennial crops with animal rotational grazing and biochar (see “MontBio” below) to give life back to the depleted soil. Focus crops: lemons, avocados, apricots, plums, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, spirulina, honey, dried herbs, hops, artichokes.
* Market Garden: some production going to veggie boxes for the families of Ca l’Aulet, some going to the veggie box scheme of the Aurora del Camp farm. We will also seek to create alliances with specific restaurants to produce for them.
* In 2017 Alfred and his colleague Albert Vila won a Lush Spring Prize for Regenerative Design for their project MontBio <http://12pdesign.net/montbio/>, which promotes the intelligent use of carbon for ecological, economic and social regeneration; climate change adaption; and truly ethical consumerism
Our community project is bringing back the ancient tradition of making charcoal in the coastal mountains of Montnegre i El Corredor natural park.
However, we intend to put carbon in the ground instead of the atmosphere – meanwhile regenerating the Mediterranean ecosystem, reducing wildfire risks, and building a circular economy among the mountain inhabitants.
MontBio has permission to recover “waste” wood from forestry operations that would otherwise be burned, in order to create a high value, carbon negative product. Can Serafí is a perfect site for this project, and we can use the people power of this training program both to make the biochar and distribute it throughout the farm in order to regenerate the depleted soil.
* Community Gardens: making available garden allotments to the elderly residents of Sant Cebrià and the families of Ca l’Aulet
* Create opportunities for Ca l’Aulet parents to take responsibility for certain land-based economical activities
* Permaculture and related fields will be the backbone of the educational program at Can Serafí.
* Can Serafí offers the perfect location to offer Arts & Ecology after school activities for the children of Ca l’Aulet. We will build an Eco-Labyrinth to demonstrate ecology (water, soil, forests, plants) and have a studio for painting and arts.
* We have made a Strategic Alliance with Barcelona’s Nest City Lab <https://apocapocbcn.com/en/about>, an innovative project that includes 400 m2 of permaculture space with an edible forest, an urban farm with aeroponic towers, a yoga and mindfulness space, a media center, a vegetarian industrial kitchen, a wellness space and a coworking for craft entrepreneurs, startups and small companies.
We will intermingle knowledge, skills, and best practices between urban and rural contexts.
* We are discussing the possibility of renting a building at Can Serafí to Ca l’Aulet for their “Secondaria” school (ages 11-14), as they are expanding and no longer have enough facilities for this age group
Nest City Lab Coordinator: Val
We have been inspired by the La Bolina project <https://www.labolina.org> who provide training in agroecology and permaculture for refugees while regenerating the local economy and community of a depopulated village in Southern Spain.
We have the opportunity to create a similar project here. Our colleague Neus works with young refugees and is searching for a site to offer training in agriculture and sustainability and later to help the trainees search for job opportunities.
We also have a great opportunity to put into practice a great social enterprise based on the Circular Economy model and developed in the Netherlands by Siemen Cox
The business is the cultivation of oyster mushrooms grown on coffee wastes collected from local restaurants and cafés. We would offer training to the refugees in how to grow the mushrooms, and they would collect the coffee grounds and then deliver the mushrooms to the restaurants. Another aspect is for them to build mushroom cultivation stations using recycled materials, which are displayed in the restaurants for the clients to see…this has been a smash hit in the Netherlands, both restaurants and their customers love seeing how the mushrooms that they are eating have been grown.
Click here to visit Rotterzwam.
Business Plan and Sources of Income
Aside from sources of income derived through educational and agricultural activities, we also would organise an agro-tourism option for families visiting the Maresme coast who want to have a different experience than the hotels can offer. Can Serafí is truly a perfect location for this, given its location, climate, and the family-friendly atmosphere we will create there.
Not many projects combine the social with the ecological, but that is one of our core beliefs: a healthy ecology depends on a healthy society, and vice versa. We are inspired by projects such as La Bolina and CERES <https://ceres.org.au> who recognise this connection.
The project will be overseen by an advisory board with some of the most talented and inspiring people in their fields.
We will organise a small housing cooperative with at least 2-3 families/individuals organising the project and living at the site with children, along with other people staying for shorter periods of time.
The owner is a 75-year-old farmer who was born there and spent his life farming the terraces. Since he is no longer able to maintain the farm, he really wants to sell the farm quickly. Though there are two other buyers interested in the property, he says he wants to sell it to us because he knows that we will keep it as a farm and not just turn it into tourist apartments.
We have identified the bases of the project we will build, so even if this farm is sold before we are able to obtain the financing to buy it ourselves, we will search for another one that meets our criteria like this one.
To make this dream a reality, we are looking for special people who would like to donate or invest in the project, especially those who would like to have a connection with us, come to stay there with their friends and families, and participate in the development of the project. In our portfolio we go into the details, but we know there are people out there with access to funds who understand the gravity of the problems of the world but want to live fun and fulfilling lives while doing what is possible to create positive change. We invite those people to join with us in making our vision for Can Serafí a reality.