Producing plants from the seed on our rooftop. Then we bring them to our finca!
Interview with Thomas, who founded the Ventana Azul Hostel in 2012. Find out more about our newest projects in the countryside of Gran Canaria, only 12 minutes car drive from our Hostel in Las Palmas!
How did you come up with the idea to start an ecological fruit & vegetable garden?
Well during the Corona Pandemic in 2020 like many other people, I had a lot of time to think. I could observe in the media the downsides of globalization. How Europa nowadays depends in many aspects on the fabrics of Asia. That made the problems that mankind has with globalization clear again one more time. But the idea of growing our own ecological food is not new to me, it’s in my head since a few years. Actually we had a nice urban garden in the very centre of Las Palmas, in Tropical House hostel that we started there 4 years ago but which we had to stop due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Salva from Italy planting salad in March 2021
What’s your motivation for this project?
I think especially on an island it’s very important to try to be as self-sufficient as possible. It’s very risky to depend too much on importing. Especially during a crisis. Gran Canaria has a huge potential for agriculture. Because of its soil, its climate and the good access to sweetwater. Diving into agriculture on Gran Canaria is a real adventure for me because there are many interesting stories to hear and things to learn. The system of old aqueducts that are still used today and the way canarians share their sweet water, tells a lot about how precious this element is for the local population.
My motivation is to try to improve the world just a bit and maybe motivate others to grow their own ecological food back home.
Getting seed into the ground. Surrounded by our still small baby banana trees.
How could you finally put into reality this idea?
Well in the end Claudia, a new friend from France reminded me about the project of José. The finca where we started our Ventana Azul garden is at the same time the headquarter of Joses Mundo Creativo project. They are organizing trips to clean the island and they are also working to create their own food. I have known José for many years, since he at the same time as me started his own hostel in Las Palmas. José is doing many interesting projects, like also a new and creative travel platform called … (put link). After talking with José i had the feeling we are moving into the same direction and there was no more doubt how and where to finally start my second ecological garden. Also my friend Juliette presented me to Salva who will be the person to help us to start this project. And José presented me to Charlie from Argentina who will take care of our green babies after setting up the garden. Thanks to their education and special skills we have high hopes that our garden will not turn into a disaster 🙂
Sunset at the Finca of MundoCreativo in Tenoya.
You want to tell us a bit more about the location?
For sure! It was quite a long search to find a piece of ground close to Las Palmas and not too far up in the mountains as it can get quite chilly there and all my beloved tropical fruits couldn really grow there. Well the Ventana Azul garden is located inside the finca of MundoCreativo in the authentic village of Tenoya. Only a 12 minutes drive from our hostel! That will make it very easy to deliver our free food to the hostel.
View from our ecologic finca in Tenoya.
Wait a minute, free ecological food?
Haha, ok i didn’t mention this yet. So the idea is actually to produce our own ecological food and include it for free in the price which our guests are paying for their bed at Las Canteras Beach. We want to do this to anchorage them to start similar projects in their country or maybe just to make them feel loved a bit more 🙂
So how will the hostel be connected with this ecological garden?
Yes, as I said we will weekly deliver free food to the hostel but we also want to organize events and talks about sustainable and ecological farming inside the hostel. We think in the year 2021 companies, as well as every single person, have a big responsibility to take more care of our home, this planet. The gift of having a company like a hostel is also that you can just reach out to many more people than a single person. I lately just realized that more than 10,000 people have been staying in our hostel in the last 9 years.
Also, after the pandemic is under control, we will start to organize visits and little trips to the MundoCreativo finca for those guests who are actually interested to see where their delicious ecological food is coming from. We are also planning with José to connect the cleaning trips he is organizing with our hostel. But we need to be a bit more patient until we finally win the fight against Covid19.
Automatic watering system installed.
Which kinds of fruits and vegetables will you grow in the Ventana Azul Garden?
Well what makes farming especially rewarding and interesting on Gran Canaria is the fact that you can literally grow anything on this amazing island. Due to its warm and perfect climate even tropical fruits like mangos, dragon fruits, bananas and plantains are growing in those valleys close to the sea level. I personally also love the huge fig & avocado trees that are spread all over the island. Our production will also include more traditional fruits like strawberries and raspberries. Then we will have the full range of vegetables like potatoes, onions, salad and zucchinis.
You want to add a few more thoughts about the new Ventana Azul garden?
Yes, actually i have more things to say haha. Well I also think that to grow your own food is more than just getting healthy and local food. Food is also a way to connect with our people. IN a world that due to digitalisation ironically seems more and more connected and isolated at the same time, I think that sharing something that matters in real life is a big plus for my life. And I hope it can be for others too. During the Covid lockdown many of us have been isolated in their homes and their only excuse to leave the house was to buy food. I hope that we will not forget these hard times, when we sit together in our garden and connect with each other. Not only go to the Ventana Azul garden to get our food, but just to share our time, tell each other stories and be there for each other. Just be a bit more human maybe. So the idea is also to turn it into a meeting point between local friends and curious tourists. Some of my friends already stated their interest to be a part of this.
How would you define a bit more detailed what you mean by “being human”?
Well what i want to say is that hopefully this project will help some people to get back a bit more to our roots. Food as a gift from the ground. We trade time for food. That’s why it’s especially important for Ventana Azul that the food should be for free. In a world that sees its own resources eaten up by a borderless and totally unleashed capitalism, maybe we can try to create a little bubble where money is not constantly present. We will see if this is only an illusion.
How do you think it fits together to create his anti-capitalistic project being yourself a part of the capitalistic word? As far as I know your guests all use airplanes and they also pay for their stay.
Yes, we are a part of the system. I am aware of that fact and for me personally at least it’s a conscious choice. I don’t want to live an outsider’s life without travelling or other convenient stuff of the modern times. But at least I would like to balance the damage that i am doing to our planet by being one little piece of this puzzle called modern society. The way I earn my money and live has some bad consequences for this planet, I am aware of that. But I am a person who generally doesn’t like to think in black and white. Yes, I am black, yes I am white. I am good and I am bad. I am just human. Well maybe not enough right yet. Maybe after creating the garden a bit more again 🙂