Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

After the flames

The inventory of damage from the devastating fires of October 2017 is extensive but fortunately not total. Rather than exhaustively describe it all (which is exhausting) the story is told in the images below.

Briefly …

  • The wee house and kitchen – both my own and volunteer/guest accommodation and facilities – were destroyed.
  • The cob bathroom was damaged – one half of the roof will have to be replaced, a wall reconstructed and a window replaced – but it remains useable.
  • One volunteer caravan was completely destroyed and the other had its windows melted.
  • The geodome greenhouse was burnt out but the framework is still good.
  • The 6 solar panels providing power to the west side of the quinta all burned. Some were completely vaporised, others were still capable of providing a small amount of power. Electric cabling burned out all over the place. The charge controllers, inverter and batteries survived.
  • The chute for the hydropower system was destroyed.
  • Water lines had burned out where the MDPE pipework was exposed at terrace edges and over bedrock. Some of it was still alight. The stuff burns like a candle wick.
  • 11 1000-litre plastic IBC tanks for rainwater catchment and water supply were totally or partially destroyed.
  • The vermicomposting worm toilet tank was partially burned but the worms survived.
  • Many tools, including the wonderful mulch-making chipper, were destroyed.
  • The trailer lost its tyres, lights and registration plate, but is repairable,
  • The communal building-to-be escaped with a couple of broken windows.
  • The yurt and poultry coops survived unscathed, as did all the poultry.
  • Unbelievably, the car – which I had to abandon on the track because our way out was blocked by the fire – was almost completely untouched.

There are more details dotted about the place – on the geodome greenhouse page, the buildings page and elsewhere.

The buildings were all uninsured because none of them were finished and I’d been told I couldn’t get insurance on unfinished buildings. The Portuguese government compensation payouts have amounted to less than €5,000 against losses of around ten times that amount. I don’t yet know if I’ll get help rebuilding. With the wee house and caravans destroyed, my plans to start running courses here in 2018 have had to be shelved.

But I will find a way. We will rebuild. Even if it means relying on donated materials and volunteer/student labour, we will put this quinta to rights again. If you’d like to come and join in, or help out from a distance, please see the Volunteering and Get Involved pages.

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