The Alpujarras are a magical sprawl of villages, terraced agricultural land, and natural park which covers the fertile Southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia. The region is renowned for its cultural, ecological and historical riches, enabled by a unique combination of Mediterranean climate, varied altitude, and the abundant fresh water that flows from springs and rivers fed by mountain snowmelt.
Known in the English speaking world through Gerald Brenan’s wonderful ‘South from Granada’ and our esteemed neighbour Chris Stewart’s ‘Driving Over Lemons’ the area has long been a hub for a diverse and thriving international community drawn to the area by its natural beauty, the openness of the historical Spanish community, and the opportunity to live a more harmonious and sustainable life.
This community is centred in Orgiva, the administrative and cultural capital of The Alpujarras. In addition to everything else it offers, Orgiva is fast becoming a hub for alternative education, home to several excellent groups working to create legal alternative schools and an active cultural association - Girasol Libre - working to support and unite families and projects.
Unión De Los Ríos
Banana Mountain is hosted by Unión De Los Ríos, an association focused on the creation of a new land-based centre for practice-based research in education, ecology, the arts and sustainable technologies.
The centre is based on an ancient farm in a quiet corner of Las Alpujarras where the Rio Trevelez and Rio Guadelfeo meet on their way from the High Sierra to the Costa Tropical. The farm is seven hectares of enchanted fields and terraces nestled between looming rocks above and an ever-changing river bed below.
The focus and aims of the association and the space it manages are broad, expansive and intentionally open-ended. Underpinning and connecting these expansive aims is a solid foundation of commitments to social and ecological justice, care for the present, and collective actualisation.
Up to now, Banana Mountain has predominantly lived outside. Central to our future plans is the creation of significant new infrastructure, a collaboration between the adults and young people of our community, non-formal education project Sunseed Desert Technology, and award-winning multi-disciplinary collective Assemble. Together, we intend to make simple, beautiful buildings that model sustainable construction and embody our values and ideals.
New infrastructure is important. It will enable our community increased access to the commons of human knowledge and the tools of our culture. Far, far more important is what is already here and we hope always will be. Wildflowers after spring rains. Skittish Ibex chancing a drink at the river. Pomegranates spilling autumnal treasure onto thirsty sun-baked earth. Our school will not be located in a valley. Our school will be the valley itself, and we will be an active, vital part of it.