First of all, I’d like to give you a brief description of my projects ...
What is Quinta das Moitas? What am I creating here?
The vision for Quinta das Moitas is to regenerate this once abandoned farm into an abundant landscape using strategies derived from syntropic agriculture and permaculture principles. It is also part of an initiative to engage neighbours in joining efforts to regenerate and conserve shared landscapes, into healthy and productive eco-systems where animals (wild and domestic) are treated as integral partners. This project is called Earth Neighbours.
What is Earth Neighbours? What is the vision?
Earth Neighbours is an initiative about connecting people and facilitating access to abandoned land, focusing around existing regeneration projects. It’s about facilitating communities of people working together in synergy for the restoration and the conservation of land, essentially creating neighbourhoods that contribute towards autonomy and abundance and also towards protection, by way of design. They can be seen as immune cells, responding to a world of great change.
What has happened now? Why am I seeking funding?
On July 18, 2017, Quinta das Moitas suffered a terrible blow. A bush fire, approaching from the West broke the sacred boundary at the chapel and engulfed virtually the whole of my farm, where I'd spent the last 6 years planting and nursing trees, turning my reforesting efforts to ashes. On the bright side, the immediate area around the buildings, the core of the farm, remained untouched, however we did lose a caravan used to accommodate volunteers, a new yurt cover and extra canvas belonging to my partner, and half the bee hives.
Disaster or Opportunity?
It is a crisis, no doubt, but also an opportunity to reach out and to make a sincere and concerted effort to protect this place, its animals and the people staying here, from the risk of fire in the future. This responsibility can not be taken lightly. Any contribution towards reaching this goal will be greatly appreciated. The next sections outline a staged plan of what will be put into action, depending on the amount of funding that I receive.
Replacement of yurt, caravan and hives -
We need to fix the yurt, find another affordable caravan for work exchange guests and purchase some new hives. Luckily we’ve had a friend offer us some of their second hand canvas so most of the material for the yurt repair is already covered and mainly need to cover the labor costs for this. Harald, my beekeeper will freely give me some new swarms come spring provided I can get new hives.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1500.00
Clean up, work day -
I will be organizing a community work day and inviting all friends and interested parties to come and help clear the fire damaged areas of the quinta. The work will involve removing all remaining fire damaged organic matter and either putting them into piles from which I can then later use to create bio-char or laying it all down along contours of the land to help prevent erosion. ALL will be welcome (young and old, local and foreign, in shape or out of shape - no one will be judged by what they can or can't do - all help is appreciated). This will also be an open invitation to all who want to learn more about this project is about. The morning will involve 4 hours of hands on work clearing fire debris then we will break at lunch time and have a shared meal followed by socialising and discussion. Later in the afternoon, starting from 6pm there will be the opportunity to celebrate the theme of renewal and regeneration with some roots reggae sounds. Event date to be confirmed.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement: none
Animal yard with shelter -
Construction of an animal shelter behind the barn in a fenced in area. This will house a small number of grazing animals. Fencing will be sourced from a local supplier and viable wood from another nearby reforesting project where mature pines (pinho bravo) are being cleared to give space for young natives such as oaks and chestnuts to come through.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €600.00
Animals and mobile fencing -
To purchase 12 sheep, 2 goats and a mobile fencing system that can be used to create small fenced in cells that are moved around the perimeter of the land to manage the grazing animals to help keep the grasses and brush under control. These will be used particularly in areas that are most fire prone due to the prevailing east-south easterly and westerly winds. These will be used as a shared resource with my immediate neighbours Claus and Rachael.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1100.00
Please note: ALL funds listed below will be used in collaboration with my current and future Earth Neighbours such as Claus and Rachael, who have suffered losses from the recent fires. The funds raised will be shared between us in working together to create effective fire break solutions.
Fixed fencing to create a corridor around perimeter of farm -
Fixed fencing of grazing corridors would keep grass and any other fire prone matter to a safe level, effectively creating fire a break solution for our and other farms that further down the path of the fire. The cost of fencing has been estimated at €140 per 50m. Depending on the available funding we’ll work out how much of an area we can cover. A minimum fence length of 250 metres, I.e. a 100m long by 25m wide corridor would be ideal.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - Starting from €700.00 for minimum fenced area as described above.
Planting out with fire retardant plants -
The idea is to create animal corridors (or alleys) around the perimeters and certain areas of our farms. This will involve planting the alley walls with low fire risk shrubs and trees, obtainable here in Portugal, such as Oleander shrub, Paulownia Tomentosa trees (which is good for my bees also), as well as Robinia Pseudoacacia (which some consider to invasive, but which has huge benefits in the context of reducing fire risks). It will also involve rigging up a simple irrigation system to help establish the young trees. Buying animals and plants will only be possible in November when hopefully the rains will generate enough greenery to keep the animals happy. Claus is already working on germinating Paulownia seeds and we are investigating other suitable, fire retardant species available in Portugal some of which might be provided as donations. Most of what we are asking for here is to cover the costs of a basic irrigation system which can double as a fire fighting system.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1200.00
Share in Community Wood Chipper -
The last stage of the plan is largely dependent on the amount of funding that can be raised. It is not a crucial step, but would be highly beneficial if it can happen. It involves stacking and shredding the partially burnt sticks and stumps into charred wood chips for use as mulch. Shredding diminishes the combustibility of the organic matter and contributes towards increasing soil moisture. The issue is getting hold of a wood chipper. There are various options available, but in a recent local meeting aimed at creating a community fire response team, we discussed the purchasing of a communal chipper to be shared among several farms, which could cost around €6000. If we can raise €1000 then we can participate in this community share program.
Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1000.00
Implementing these steps successfully ...
The degree to which all of the above can be implemented depends on funding. Establishing this campaign as a relief fund for Quinta das Moitas addresses that issue. It also aims to serve as a demonstration for how to create effective fire breaks that provide added value such as wool, milk, honey and wood.
How can you help?
I hope this gives you a fair idea of my intentions. If you resonate with the project, feel inclined and are in a position to make a donation then I will consider that a blessing. If you’re not able to make a donation but would still like to help then you could do so by sharing this campaign and also visiting my support page that describes many ways in which willing contributors can help.
Thank you / Obrigado.
Peace and Blessings to ALL.