Save The Citrus: The Ibiza Charity Fighting Food Waste With A Healthy Dose Of Community Spirit

Save The Citrus Ibiza

If you drive or walk around Ibiza during the winter months, it’s impossible not to notice the island’s lush orchards. Orange and lemon trees are bursting with brightly coloured fruit; a sight that makes you marvel at Mother Nature’s abundance. 

Take a look at the ground, though, and you will likely see a generous amount of fallen citruses covering Ibiza’s striking red soil. You might ask yourself what happens to all the surplus fruit that the local farmers can’t keep up with harvesting in time?

Step forward Save The Citrus, a charitable organisation that dispatches volunteers to Ibicencan farms to help pick the vitamin-laden produce and distribute it to local food banks. 

Launched by Salacia Dawn during the pandemic, when the island was in desperate need of fresh food donations, over the past three years enthusiastic Save The Citrus helpers have collected thousands of leftover oranges and lemons that might otherwise be left to rot on the floor.

We spoke to Salacia about the joyful project, which raises awareness about food waste, fosters community spirit and injects a healthy dose of vitamin C and charitable spirit into the lives of Ibiza’s residents. 

Salacia Dawn, the founder of Save The Citrus.

Thank you for your time, Salacia! What is your connection to Ibiza?

Ibiza is my second home. I have been visiting as a tourist for over 10 years, and eventually decided to move here in September 2020 – during the pandemic. Ibiza has been the place where many of my visions and projects were born through the sheer openness and inspiration of the island.

I took a leap of faith and left London with only a small bag while there was a short window of flights. They closed the airports not long after I arrived, and that was that.. I was in. 

What do you love most about the island?

I love the diversity of people and projects. It is incredible how much is being created on a relatively small island. And I love how supportive the community is in helping each other to expand their ideas. Everyone naturally comes together, co-creating events and workshops. The community gives the island a sense that anything is possible. You say it out loud… and it happens!

And on a personal level, I love how you can flit between cocoa ceremonies, foraging and underground raves. The contrast is what makes the island magnetic. I am mostly drawn to the ‘healthy-hedonistic’ side of the island along with the incredible nature, the trees, the sea and sunsets. I feel very close to nature in Ibiza. 

How has your project Save The Citrus been received?

I have been supported many times throughout its creation. 

Whenever I would ask for help in local groups, I would get a response immediately – whether it be someone lending transport, their hands, a spot to showcase Save The Citrus at events, warehouse space, fridges for storing juice, equipment such as an industrial juicer… the list goes on!

What inspired this project?

The idea came about in 2018 when I had driven from the UK to Ibiza to sell a drink I created in London, called Sign. Call it synchronicity, but Sign contains both orange and lemon. When I was promoting the drink at the Amorevore food festival, it was brought to my attention by Gaby and Chris from Ibiza Produce and Casita Verde that the island has a food waste problem. 

I learned that only 2% of local produce was sold on the island, while the rest of the fresh produce was imported from the Spanish mainland. I was quite shocked, to me it didn’t make sense. I headed back to London with the intention of one day coming back to Ibiza to create Save The Citrus, a well as a health drink. 

When I returned during the pandemic, I realised that thousands of people were in need of fresh food donations. I decided to put the drink production on hold and focus my energy on starting the charity, as that seemed far more urgent. That is when Save The Citrus was launched. 

Save The Citrus orange harvest Ibiza
Thousands of ripe oranges are at risk of going to waste.
Salacia and Pepe, the owner of the first farm Save The Citrus began to work with.
Salacia and Pepe, the owner of the first farm Save The Citrus began to work with.

How did you organise it all? 

It was very challenging. I knew what I wanted to create, however, in the middle of a pandemic a lot of meetings and farm visits had to be put on hold due to the restrictions. It took a lot to gain momentum. 

One day I visited my friend, Linda, from ‘Linda Ibiza Design’. It turned out that she lives directly behind a farm, and she said they had thousands of oranges on the floor. We both laughed at the synchronicity!

Within minutes, I was meeting Pepe and Maria – Ibicencan farmers who have more than 1,000 trees! We took a walk around the farm, which at the time had more oranges on the floor than on the trees. I asked him if he would mind if I picked them up and took them to the charities. 

He was delighted. He told me that they had been sitting at the dinner table two days earlier, saying how wonderful it would be if some young folk drove past and saw the opportunity to support them. Then I knocked on the door… The magic of the island works like this!

How did the project grow from there?

After the initial meeting with Pepe and Maria, I came back regularly – sometimes twice a week. I was alone to begin with, as it was still a strange time to be moving around the island with restrictions, but it wasn’t long before volunteers showed up. I would share the collection dates with friends and other Ibiza communities. Sometimes there were two of us, other times there were 15. We now have a WhatsApp group of 80 volunteers. 

Which organisations and charities do you work with?

In 2021, we were supporting the food banks Food For Ibiza and Caritas. Now we spend our time delivering to Caritas in Ibiza Town, San Antonio and Santa Eulalia, and we have also started to make drops at La Voz in Ibiza Town.

Over the last two to three years, we have grown as a team and we would love to eventually branch out to other facilities that would benefit from fresh produce – such as schools, prisons, or orphanages. Whoever needs support and would benefit from fresh local citrus fruits.

Caritas Ibiza food bank
Caritas is just one of the local charities Save The Citrus supports.

How can people take part?

From December to March, we are arranging collections at least once a week. We mostly go on Wednesday or Thursday mornings from 11:00 -13:00, and we have a WhatsApp group and Instagram page to share meeting times.

What does a typical collection day look like?

We meet at 11:00 am. Sometimes we share citrus-based snacks, such as orange slices dipped in chocolate, orange cake or orange and carob muffins with tea and coffee provided by Linda, a friend and neighbour of the farm. 

We each take a box and collect oranges from the floor, unless Pepe asks us to clear a tree – which sometimes happens to help him prepare the tree for next season. 

We finish around 13:00 and then two or three volunteers drive to the charities to drop off the fruit. Around 14:00 we’re all done.

What do you enjoy the most about leading this project?

I love this project because I see the benefits for everyone who is involved. From the people volunteering to the people receiving. Each part of the charity connects people to the nature around them, to the local produce and to each other. 

I have seen people turn up to the farms a little glum or disconnected – and leave with huge smiles, feeling deeply connected to nature and other people. 

I love how this project creates many nourishing connections between different communities. The Ibicencan farmers, the citrus crew volunteers and the people in Ibiza town relying on food donations… We are all connected through the abundance of citrus!

Save The Citrus orange and lemon collection
Crates of ripe fruit get collected on local farms and distributed to food banks and charities.
Volunteering with Save The Citrus on Ibiza.
Immersion into nature and community spirit are just two of the positive aspects of volunteering with Save The Citrus.

What have you learned from creating Save The Citrus? 

I have learnt that we all desire to support each other, however, it can be a challenge to know how to help each other with so much going on in the world. It can be overwhelming to know where to start… or to know how to make a difference. 

Save The Citrus creates a simple, but powerful way to help people on our doorstep. It is a win-win for everyone involved. Time spent in nature, in community, giving and receiving, nourishing each other, being amongst the trees, fostering the relationship we have with ourselves and nature…

All of this creates more awareness of the reality around us and supports mental and physical wellbeing.

How big is the team now?

I have to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Aurika and Lynda, who have been managing the project this season. They have been gathering the citrus crew every week, saving thousands of fruits whilst doing the drop off to Caritas and La Voz. They made a huge difference to the project this year. 

What is your vision for the future of Save The Citrus?

As a team, we would like to see the charity grow and evolve. 

We have some ideas of how we could further support and help those relying on donations. For example, we would also love to invite them to the farms to get them involved with picking the fruits and to create an opportunity to be with us in the groves.

We would like them to be in nature as a community, as they spend the majority of their time in the towns. They love helping us take the fruit in from the van, they want to be involved. 

To help make this happen we hope to raise some money to buy a minibus for next season. 

Furthermore, over the next few years we would love to start creating some local products using surplus citrus, such as marmalade, cleaning products, sweets, health drinks, cakes, natural medicines… the creativity goes wild when we are together in those orange groves!

We would use the profits to pay local farmers for their surplus, and to further fund our venture. We are open to anyone who would love to volunteer, sponsor the cause or partner with us!

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer or donate to Save The Citrus, please get in touch through Instagram @savethecitrus or www.savethecitrus.com.

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