We found the farm (quinta) and land/garden in a run down condition but instantly felt the natural oasis it had once been and could be again. In essence everything was already there;
- the land with its 5 terraces, retaining water and reducing erosion
- the native vegetation such as olive, almond, fig, carob, loquat, pomegranate and orange trees
- the old house, situated on the slope in the middle of the plot, built of thick taipa blocks some 150 years ago
- the old well and water basin, providing water for irrigation and hopefully in the future the primary source of water for the house
During the renovation of the house we inhabited the safari tent we set up at the back of the land. With our outdoor shower, solar cooker and the starlit sky we experienced how little one needs to be happy. Meanwhile we brought the land back to life. We started with the old orange orchard. The 52 orange trees needed tending to so we provided them with a bed of mulch and created drip irrigation. To create a forest garden we planted new fruit trees, which provide shade and create a diverse ecosystem.
With the renovations near to completion we moved into the house at the end of 2013 and are now living in Portugal permanently. It has become a comfortable, spacious house, with use of local/natural materials. Solar panels provide warm water and electricity. The fireplace heats the whole house during those chilly and damp winter evenings and the thick taipa walls with clay render ensure there is a constant climate inside.
After 5 years now we find many things have changed for the better, the effect of all the efforts to regenerate the land is clearly visible. We are still focussing our attention on the annual vegetables, the perennials, the soil and seeds, planting even more trees and shrubs. Meanwhile the chickens and ducks lay their eggs, the two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs help us dig up the soil and take care of the kitchen scraps, the dogs guard the land and keep us company and the cat hunts the unwanted creatures.
We have plenty of plans and projects for the future:
continue creating more abundance by planting trees and shrubs, organising workshops to connect schoolchildren with nature again and also continue providing tours for interested people searching for some new inspiration, and much more…. All for the purpose of creating a closed ecosystem in the end and exchanging knowledge and experience.
For more detailed information on some of these topics you may have a look at the Blog section.