This is going to be our third Ecosystem Regeneration Camp and our motivation is up!
These camps are always a rewarding experience of learning, action and networking. The participants have various backgrounds and get together in the motivation to act as regeneration agents, building on tools and knowledge. Time is spent in understanding ecological principles, practicing key techniques and deepening potential networks of action and support.
A large part of the people joining these camps have their own land or are in the process to get it. Some are part of networks and projects that get hands on the ground to make it greener and fresher. The general energy is of focus and care creating an atmosphere of collaborative action learning.
For Quinta Vale da Lama this opportunity brings a boost in the practical expression of our projects. We invite participants to feel at home and contribute in daily routines, care and celebration. For these camps to happen takes the work of many; the ones that care for the farm and growing food, that bring life to the campus site, care for the kitchen, manage registration and communication, keep the tools and materials. Walt Ludwick as Farm Owner and Developer together with Hugo Oliveira as Ecosystem Regeneration Design Consultant work at the core of the camps bringing in the results of designs and techniques in progress, practical examples and the theories that frame what is being done at Vale da Lama.
Walt shares that “As farm developer, i am working for regeneration at 3 different levels:
At the global level: To show by our example how it is possible to buck the trend of desertification that is our context. Even if we can’t reverse climate change at the global level, we’ve all got some microclimate(s) within which we can build, creating ripple effects all around whose reach can be really surprising!
At the local community level: By reaching out and engaging the regeneration-minded people around us, to work with our diverse capabilities at a common purpose, we are developing a network, a Community of Practice, that IS making a real difference in the world, in fact.
At the personal level: I do it because… Well, as a “ReFarmer,” this is what turns me on!”
He points out as two examples from Quinta Vale da Lama particularly significant:
“Our Food Forest, planted in context of a course with Ernst Gotsch and heavily renovated in our ERC of last spring, shows how profoundly you can transform a patch of bare ground in just 7 years. Of course that’s an intensive system, with benefit of permanent irrigation…
But on a more extensive scale, the AgroSilvoPastoral system we implemented on our farm’s dry north slope at last November’s ERC is already showing great improvement, with over 100 carob trees (out of 104 total planted) now firmly established and thriving. This being a rain-fed system, we’re working with some patterns -e,g. structural swales and hugelkultur, deep mulch pits and biofertilizers, around trees planted in half-moon retention berms- that should enable us to retain soil moisture for longer after winter rains and temporary irrigation are gone… And we’ve deployed a smart grid of soil sensors to see if we can’t prove exactly that.”
Responsible for the design and implementation of the examples above Hugo Oliveira holds the facilitation of the camps with a dynamic and participatory approach. He explains his motivation for facilitating these camps in the following way:
“ Faced with climate instability, drought, fire events and degenerative practices of land management, i’m strongly motivated to share insights we’ve been having while regenerating this semi-arid landscape, here at Vale da Lama.
We regenerate ecosystems by rethinking our place in them. And each landscape has its own inner storyline of regenerative potential. In this widely deforested landscape with low levels of organic matter in the soils, and within a mediterranean climate condition with around 500 mm of yearly rainfall, most falling only in the colder months, Agroforestry practices are of great relevance, by increasing poly cultural tree cover, we increase the shade and create cooler microclimates, we increase organic matter with leaflitter and chop-&-drop of support species, deep roots will reach lower levels of groundwater, perennial cropping system will provide produce spread in the year, we can increase habitat for biodiversity, create edges, windbreaks, wildlife corridors, and so much more.
Being an encourager of Experiential Learning, i’m enthusiastic of hosting these Camps with its broad Active Learning component, where most of the week we put our hands in the soil and practicing regeneration as we go. Hundreds of trees and shrubs will be planted with your help, and in one week of grassroots action we’ll be able to mitigate a small portion of the causes of climate change by sequestering carbon in trees, while we create abundance locally as well as inviting biodiversity to join our plentifullness.”
During this Ecosystem Regeneration Autumn Camp among we will be creating a Coppice & Fodder Woodland that will host Nature connection activities, serve as Windbreak, produce wood for multi-purposes such as firewood or wood-poles, fodder for the farm sheep as they graze the lowlands, and shelter for birds and other wildlife. Also we’ll be at the Forest Garden (Syntropic Agroforest) increasing the tree cover, filling in the shrub, herbaceous, ground cover, vertical and root layers, with productive and diverse species.
All are invite and welcome!