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In February I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit La Bolina, an inspiring project celebrating integration sustainability and regeneration, tucked beneath the snow capped mountains of southern Spain. Olly, Lucy and Rosie and I all went out together (My talented friends Ol & Lu are shoemakers (Ottowin footwear) and Rosie Carmichael - the wonderful  illustrator - all Bristolian peers and dears to me).

Olly’s sister Ruth and her wife Maria put us up in their lovely home and it was very special having some time with them - learning about their work and their lives in Spain. They were part of a group who formed La Bolina during a workshop in Northern spain (The Eroles project). The group had come together to start a project “which offered an integrated and holistic approach to borders, climate change, new economy, human rights and migration.”

A lot of the project is worked out of a small plot of land not far from the villages of Salares and Restabal. After getting a little lost trying to find it wondering around vast expanses of orange groves, and after a few slightly confusing conversations on my part, as I tried to explain La Bolina in my very limited Spanish to some locals, we found it.

Out of this small plot, tucked behind a orange sorting unit (I have honestly never seen so many oranges in my life) the vegetables are grown for the weekly veg boxes, which are sold to help fund the project. Sam and Gilbert who came to the project, seeking asylum from the Gambia let us know the plan for the day and we set out to do some weeding. It was not an average day on the land as there was a film crew there filming for the local news, so there was so many people around, but such a buzz and excitement in the air. After a morning weeding in the sunshine - a job I find extremely satisfying, we went up to the house where everyone is living and had a big delicious lunch cooked by Regi and one of the new volunteers Aurelio. We all sat on a long table in the courtyard for lunch - eating kumquats off the tree, sharing bread and talking about life on the project.

As well as the land, the project also teaches permaculture, agroecology and commercialisation for refugees and migrants in Granada. From long chats with Ruth & Maria (who I think are just superwomen) it sounds like there are so many arms and parts to La Bolina that I have merely touched on. Like all projects with a social mission it is ever evolving to accommodate the needs of the people involved and naturally is full of complexities. It was so inspiring to hear about all the work of  the project, the determination of all involved to make it a success and their openness about the challenges.

To me, La Bolina represents friendship, fairness, regeneration, co-operation and a can do attitude. I have a huge amount of respect for them all and wish everyone at  La Bolina so much love and luck.

You can watch the video of that was being filmed while we were there - here:

Do check out their amazing work!