“A world in which human activity is as beneficial as that of bees and trees.”

By Therese Alhaug. Photo Lena Saugen. Videography Therese Alhaug.

Finca La Donaira is situated at the top of the Serranía de Ronda, in Andalusia; surrounded by a rolling terrain ranging from rocky crags and old oaks. Here, horses, cattle, sheep, goats and chicken wander together, while a team of German draught horses, mules and donkeys help out to work the land. Not to mention, the bees. Maybe the most important inhabitant. Sustainable agriculture is in centre of attention at the magical eco-resort hidden on top of the mountains in Southern Spain.

“The coming and going of volunteers, experts and guests from all walks of life brings fresh thinking – a kind of philosophical polyculture that sows brilliant new ideas about better ways of doing things in all areas of life, which also includes the horse keeping.”

La Donaira’s biodynamic farm, which is based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner, remains the lynchpin of everything. When the farm was taken over in 2005, they set to work on regenerating the soil – something that remains integral today. Their soil school teaches farmers and volunteers better practices through lectures and workshops by experts in permaculture.

La Donaira’s vision is clear: “We have to learn to propagate and protect the miracle of life’s evolution, become the stewards of life rather than its predators, evolve to understand the delicate interdependencies that allow us and the rest of the biosphere to thrive. “A partnership of life on Earth, a mutual celebration between evolution and intelligence” as David Orr calls it in “the Trial”.

“All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.”

Geoff Lawton

La Donaira’s approach to agriculture is open and experimental; a blend of tradition and innovation but based on permaculture design principles. The same principles form the basis of everything they do at La Donaira, from ecological education and interior design to collaborative art festivals. Add a nine-room cortijo designed and decorated with the refinement of simplicity, a natural spring pool, an outdoor riding arena for dressage lovers, tailormade Lusitano breed, an indoor spa, classical music, and organic food of the best quality from, and I promise you it is worth a stay. Not only for your senses, but also for taking time for self-reflection.

EQUILIFE visited the eco-friendly boutique resort; in August 2019, to meet up with the owner himself, Mr Manfred Bodner. A conversation not only bringing attention to his passion for Lusitano horses, sustainable agriculture and natural horse keeping, but also to our role as human beings in the natural world. A conversation of great importance.

More info on La Donaira

Therese Stub Alhaug
Therese Stub Alhaug


Therese is the editor of Equilife, and is truly dedicated to equestrian sports and horses. She started riding as a little girl, and enjoys her free time with her two horses back home. Portrait interview is her favorite topic, as it has the gift to inspire others through peoples stories, knowledge, training and general life-philosophy, and certainly, their lives with horses.

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