Lesaka is not the place one would immediately associate with the cultivation of avocados. However, it has an avocado plantation that is proliferating thanks to Xixo Ayestaran, the first Navarrese producer of organic avocados.
The story dates back to 2017 when Xixo Ayestaran moved to Gardelsoro and began to take an interest in different crops, such as pistachio and grapes. In his search, he also thought about growing avocado, a fruit that -in principle- would not resist Lesaka's climate. Everything changed when he learned that the Asturian town of Valbuena already had a plantation of this fruit.
“The climate there is very similar to the climate here, it's even a little colder than here. So some friends and I got in touch with the Asturian company. We visited their farm in 2019 and they gave us very useful tips to grow the plant during the winter," he stated.
That was the start of it all. In 2020, they traveled to Malaga to look for suppliers and acquired 800 plants, 300 of which were planted in the Xixo farmhouse in August 2021. Nearly 220 of these plants survived last year's winter thanks to the techniques he learned in Asturias.
The good results motivated the farmer to plant more trees in May this year. As a result, now he has 700. “People laughed when I said I was going to plant avocados in Lesaka. And they're still telling me they won't bear fruit. But if they endure this year's winter as they did in 2021, they will bloom in 2023 and I will be able to market the first fruits in 2024," the farmer stated.
The climatic characteristics of some areas of northern Spain are becoming increasingly attractive for the avocado sector. Xixo said the moisture and soil quality of these areas were great.
For the time being, the producer intends to market his organic avocados in southern France. "I am combining my activity as a farmer with the manufacture and assembly of aluminum windows, but I aspire to plant up to a thousand trees and live on the income they generate in the future."