Permaculturing in Portugal

"I think if we could get Earth in a living and stable state, not a constantly degrading and dying state caused by our actions, then we have won some right to go to the stars. But at present I don't think we'd be welcome anywhere else in the universe. You wouldn't welcome anybody who'd laid waste to their house and wanted to live in yours, I'm sure."
Bill Mollison

This has been one of those dreams which, instead of fading away gracefully with time and age and 'sense', got progressively stronger and more insistent, so its eventual realisation became not just completely irresistible, but utterly inevitable.

The dream? Living a self-sufficient, "green" and Earth-friendly lifestyle, designing and building our own autonomous house from natural, benign, locally-sourced, renewable and/or recyclable materials, growing all our own organic food according to ecological and permaculture principles, generating our energy from renewable and sustainable resources, caring for the environment by working with nature rather than against it, and preferably amongst a community of like-minded people.

It often felt like something with a life of its own. Sometimes it felt like a crazy utopian delusion. Yet simultaneously it felt like a deeper undercurrent of wisdom pushing me out of dreaming into action: being the change, walking the talk, living life in full conscious awareness of the unity of all life and the presence of life in everything. A wiser, deeper, more authentic way than this brief modern flirtation with an illusorily 'objective', fragmented, superficial, mechanistic and lifeless conception of existence which is leading to so much misery, death and destruction in the biosphere and is simply unsustainable, whichever way you look at it.

The way of the heart, rather than the head. The way of the smile, not the frown. The way of yes! why not? rather than endless lists of reasons-why-not. The way to an abiding sense of wholeness, sufficiency, gratitude, joy, which is so hard to sustain in an environment where the stress of affording rents and mortgages, energy and food bills and the relentless imperative to consume-consume-consume-because-too-much-is-not-enough makes grim treadmilling slaves of us all.

How were we to find 'our' place though? The piece of land and community where we'd be able to do this? The answer eluded me for a long time until, in late 2008, the land found us instead and the dream somehow tumbled into reality.

I'm still amazed at how it happened the way it did, but now we – that's me and my children, both in their presence and in spirit – have taken on responsibility for Quinta do Vale, 2.5 hectares or so of beautiful mountainside in the Serra do Açor (Mountains of the Goshawk) in Central Portugal. We'll be guided by the sun and the rain, the stones, the trees and the wind whispering through them, the living waters that tumble through the land, the birds, the soil and the plants that grow in it, the sound of laughter, songs, silence, inner nudges, serendipity and 'coincidence', permaculture principles, the creativity and experience of others who are doing similar things here and elsewhere around the world, and the warm and generous people of this place.

This site records our progress: our triumphs, our disasters, what we feel about it, what we do about it. It's our virtual scrapbook, repository of working ideas (I can't lose them if I put them here!), and a means of letting friends and family stay in touch with what we're doing. In time I hope it will become a useful information resource, helping others improve on our successes and sidestep our failures. If you share the dream but not the reality, I hope it will offer some inspiration and encouragement. And if you don't, perhaps there will still be something here for you when the western economic system ploughs full speed into the buffers at the end of the line ...

"The point is, if you are not standing on solid ground in terms of not just food storage, but a plan for sustainability, then you and your family are in serious danger. This is not a game, and it is not to be taken lightly. It is not something to be shrugged off and postponed for some undefined “later date”. If you have not already started the process of prepping for economic downturn or collapse, then you need to start today."
Giordano Bruno

This site, like our project, is a work in progress. At the moment one or two pages have little to say for themselves, but that'll change. Please check back for updates.

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Espero para fornecer uma versão Português deste site, quando ele é mais completo, e quando eu puder escrever melhor Português. Por agora, o link acima irá dar-lhe uma traduçâo do Google.

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