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The 95-year-old from Spain's Alpujarras who still works the land with his hands: 'My farm gives me life'
Rural life

The 95-year-old from Spain's Alpujarras who still works the land with his hands: 'My farm gives me life'

Juan Antonio Viana, the grandfather of Bayacas, is still working on his farm in Granada province using traditional methods to provide for his family

Rafael Vílchez

Granada

Friday, 31 May 2024, 10:04

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Longevity is not uncommon in the Alpujarra area of Granada province in the Andalucía region of southern Spain. Diet, climate and social life are some of the keys to ageing well. In Bayacas (anejo de Órgiva), 95-year-old Juan Antonio Viana López is clear about the secret of his longevity: he never stops working in the fields and eating homemade food.

His father, Salvador, was from Bayacas and his mother, Isabel, from Carataunas. They had two sons and four daughters. The only one who is still alive is Juan Antonio, who lived in Carataunas until he was 13 years old. Then he came to live in Bayacas to work on his parents' farm. He spent little time at school, but it would be fair to say that he is a professor in the 'university of rural life'.

After eating breakfast with his wife, Juan Antonio goes to his farm where avocado trees abound. Here he has a farmhouse where he can have a quick rest. There is no shortage of laying hens and a very vocal cockerel.

Unlike many people from rural areas of Spain, Juan Antonio has not had to leave his village to find work elsewhere. His farm has produced raspberries, beans, potatoes, vegetables, peas and more. Viana was spared from military service. When he was 30 he married Francisca Gallardo Martín, who was born in Órgiva 88 years ago. They have a son and a daughter and two granddaughters. The rhythm of his life has hardly changed and there is nothing wrong with his memory.

Juan Antonio, who is now the oldest person in Bayacas, says that when he was young "there were three taverns, three flour mills and two oil mills in the village. The school was full of boys and girls. The people worked in agriculture and livestock farming. The festivities in honour of our patron saint San Sebastián were great fun. I am very well preserved because I have always eaten what the land I work gives me: potatoes, beans, cabbages, lettuce, onions, garlic, carrots, avocados, etc. I also have chickens."

He goes on to say, "Years ago I had many animals, one of them, a mule, lasted 35 years. Until a few years ago I had goats for good milk and rabbits and pigs for household expenses. I have left my homeland very little. I have only seen Granada, Almeria and Malaga provinces, and I have seen enough."

The nonagenarian farmer concludes, "My farm full of fruit trees gives me a living. The wine I drink is brought to me by my son from Albuñuelas. Now I am in the final stretch of my life but as long as I can, I will continue to work my land because that is what I have done since I was a child."

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