Coinciding with Gran Canaria’s second “Landscape Days” event in Las Palmas, the Lopesan Group’s Veneguera project was awarded for their work “in the defense and improvement of the landscape of this zone on the southwest of the Island.” Yerou Lobo , the man responsible for the group’s agricultural affairs, collected the prize from the President of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales.
The Veneguera estate consists of 2,800 hectares which have been cultivated in this way over more than a century of agricultural activity. It is thought Its microclimate, ideal for subtropical crops, and its water wells, helped the development of the primary sector in this area during the first half of the twentieth century, when up to 3,000 workers took care of the land, as share croppers, and supplied themselves with the produce of the estate.
It is perhaps worth noting also that this area is where some of the earliest evidence of cultivation have been found on the island, with the Veneguera valley having a special place in the agricultural history of Gran Canaria.
After a period of time in the hands of a bank, when the farm land was left untouched for many years, the Lopesan group bought shares in the company Costa Canaria de Veneguera (which now owns the property) in February 2014 with the aim of boosting agricultural activity, that had been negatively affected in recent years, and in their own words to “preserve its landscape.” Today, the hotel group are the majority shareholder in this venture, along with another 120 participants, all of them Canarian.
3 years since its acquisition, Lopesan have increased production levels. Of the 57 hectares of land devoted to the primary sector (agriculture), 9.4 hectares have been added including mango, avocado, citrus and banana plantations, among other fruits, which were found to be in very short supply, but whose productivity has now been restored. New crops have also been introduced including limes and pomegranates, and other exotic fruit nurseries are currently under trial such as pineapples, longan and soursop.
Through the Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos (COAG) Canarias, one of the largest professional farmers’ and agrarian organisations with whom the Veneguera project have been recently affiliated, the farm intends to create its own seal of quality, and produce a study of local history and its rich botany in order to offer tourists the opportunity to visit in the future. A vineyard of 1360 malvasia vines is also flourishing, in a “pilot project” with which the farm hopes to gradually introduce itself into winemaking activity.
In addition to providing fresh produce to Lopesan’s hotels, the Group say they are also contributing to the commercialisation of the local agricultural industry and consumption of local produce through an agreement with the Government of the Canary Islands to promote the Canarian agricultural sector and the tourist market. With the arrival of this summer’s manga harvest, fresh mango juices will be introduced in their hotel buffets while Meloneras restaurants will make it the star dessert of the summer season.
Lopesan boast a multitude of new collaborative agreements established in just a few years, including commitments with non-profit entities. The Food Bank of Las Palmas receives a truck full of varied fruits from Veneguera each week which, along with other food provided, is distributed to families and people without resources through 135 charitable organizations, 25 of which are social kitchens. With their participation in fairs on the southwest of the island, besides promoting the demand and consumption of local produce among tourists and locals, they say they have helped the Food Bank and other groups in need in the area with money raised from the sale of the products.
An agreement signed with the Cabildo, has seen Lopesan begin work on reforestation of the Veneguera and Tabaibales farms, located in the Rural Park del Nublo, to repopulate about 800 hectares over the next ten years with 200,000 pines and sabinas.