In October 2020, we adopted a new mascot: Zamzam the donkey!
Horses, mules and donkeys have been used in Andalusia for over a millennium to cultivate the land, and they have many benefits over their newer mechanical counterparts. Excess grass is eaten and turned into valuable fertiliser instead of being strimmed; they do not use petrol; and they weigh less than tractors, which compress the soil, inhibiting root growth and beneficial microbial activity.
During his first few weeks, Zamzam transported fresh grass using traditional basketry saddlebags to make a new biodynamic compost heap, as well as a large quince harvest, which has since been made into chutney and jelly (an Andalusian speciality, usually eaten with fresh cheese). He will play a key role in the winter olive harvest, moving many kilos from all over the land to be taken off to the organic mill and pressed into olive oil.
Zamzam has also been ploughing a new field, where green manures like clover and vetch will be sown to feed the chickens and Zamzam himself. This field has never been cultivated before, so it was full of knotty grass roots, but he made short work of it, turning about 3,000m2 in only an hour. The plough is a traditional cast iron and wooden structure, whose weight naturally cuts into the hard, clayey, stony soil we typically have in this mountainous region.
Best of all, Zamzam has really brought our community and volunteers together in true Azáhara spirit – even the cats and Vito the dog come to see what’s going on! He’ll also be able to offer donkey rides at future kids’ camps.
Zamzam would love to have your support to keep him in oats and alfalfa – any amount is appreciated! Send your donations to PayPal.me/culturandalusi. Many thanks!