"When we built our earthship eco home we had no idea where it would lead. We simply wanted to live in the peace of the campo here in Southern Spain."
Hola, I'm Laura the artist and founder of the Keep It Wild Project in southern Spain. An art and conservation program set up to protect bees and other flora and fauna. Surrounding the earthship eco home I built with my partner, this Nature Reserve is located in the only semi desert in Europe, the Tabernas steppe in the Almeria Province of Andalucia.
I create art and crafts inspired by the flora and fauna I see in the reserve. Using natural and upcycled materials these pieces are not only rooted in the nature they originate from, they also actively protect it - with proceeds from the selection of originals and prints going towards buying more land to wild.
Covering nearly 20 hectares (50 acres) of garrigue land, in the only semi-desert in Europe, the project has been running for over 10 years, slowly increasing in size. There are a number of different habitats within the Reserve, from olive terraces, wild esparto grasslands, ravines and a newly purchased almond field (now starting it's process of re-wilding).
Since moving into the earthship in 2014 we have slowly expanded the land we own around it, letting it go back to wild. Not because we wanted more land, quite the opposite, as I said we just wanted to live a quiet, simple life.
But it was becoming clear this wasn't our path when we saw the steady destruction of the wild habitats in this beautiful valley. This semi-desert with it's surprising biodiversity of flora and fauna was being ripped up and vanishing before our eyes.
Huge corporations setting up industrial scale farms of olive and almonds where wild habitats are being ploughed into dust bowls.
Trees are planted too close together to survive in this semi desert - they're not appropriate or sustainable. Being watered from illegal wells, cutting deeper into the already straining aquifer, breaking it's stratas, local village wells are drying up.
The only way to stop this is to own the land.
This started our journey into creating a nature reserve.
But how to fund it?
Moving into our earthship changed my studio from a huge white, light-filled space to a cozy little nook in the corner of our 80m2 of living space.
As much as I miss my large studio, I don't regret the move one bit!
It has focused my mind and evolved my art.
Now I paint onto tea bags, I use upcycled packaging, foils, eco friendly paints. I make soft sculptures with vintage fabrics and the wool from our sheep.
And we use the profits from my sales to protect more wild land.
Take a peak at the short video on our YouTube Channel to see why we do this.