What are freshly planted onions and aubergines doing on Spanish golf courses?

by Lorraine Williamson
Huerta golf course

PROVINCIA DE VIZCAYA – “Amid the climate crisis, this precious resource, water, is being wasted on toys for the rich,” Extinction Rebellion and Jauzi Ekosoziala activists wrote in a video recorded on a golf course in the Basque Country. 

“The rich and their leisure activities that waste vital resources are a luxury we cannot afford,” said the activists featured in the video. They have invaded the golf courses of Neguri in Bizkaia and Gorraiz in Navarra at night to plant vegetables such as onions and aubergines. A video was made of that action, which they then shared on social media. 

Activists in the Basque Country, Navarra, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza took part in the action. In addition to planting onions and aubergines, they have also filled holes with cement and hung banners with texts such as “Water is a common good” and “Warning: Drought! Golf course closed for climate justice”. 


In Navarre, an area that has been particularly dry this summer, activists have reported that “nearly 40,000 hectares are affected by water shortages”. The situation is so serious that as a last resort in times of drought, many farmers decide to replace crops such as maize and vegetables with crops that require less water, such as wheat, barley or sunflowers. Yet in many areas of the region, it is not even certain whether there will be a harvest due to the lack of water. 

By planting a small vegetable garden, the activists want to symbolically demand that water should be used for essential things. A golf course may not use as much water compared to other activities, but it is a water consumption for the enjoyment of only a few people, while there are restrictions on agriculture and drinking water consumption. If everyone played golf, how much water would we need?” asks one of the activists who took part in the action and wishes to remain anonymous for fear of possible reprisals. 

Cogesa Expats

In Neguri (Vizkaya), the activists also intended to perform a symbolic act on the golf course. Here they covered several holes with earth. “We didn’t want to destroy the holes, but we did want to create a small vegetable garden because we think it’s important to show that the water used to irrigate these fields can also benefit agriculture,” said one of the activists. 

“One hole of a golf course uses more than 100,000 litres of water per day to maintain the surrounding grass. It is intolerable that this kind of elite recreation is still allowed, while the countryside suffers millions of losses due to water shortage in their crops”, Extinction Rebellion regrets. 

Daily watering of 437 golf courses throughout Spain 

The activists have also stated that “437 golf courses are being sprayed every day” across the country. “This figure comes from the environmental organisation Ecologistas and Accion and represents a water consumption higher than the combined populations of Madrid and Barcelona, for an entertainment enjoyed by only 0.6% of the population,” they warn, demanding that there will be “immediate democratic planning for water use and the use of truly democratic and participatory tools to decide on our resources”. 

Earlier, a similar action was conducted on a golf course in the south of France near Lyon 

Also read: Here in Andalucia, no water comes out the tap at night 

Baycrest Wealth

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