Water Wise Dryland Regeneration


As foretold in an earlier post, we’ve been busy this past fall/winter applying our Water-Wise Dryland Strategy to the south slope of our farm’s monte, improving access, water conservation and ecosystem regeneration all at the same time. Long story short, our evaluation of project results at this point is: a great success, worthy of continuing wherever such conditions and needs exist.

So now in 2017, we decided to continue this project with extension of the farm road from Lama Village (which lies right at the foot of our “the monte” or steep hilltop of our farm) up & around the north face, to meet up with the terminus of S-face farm road extension, to make one continuous road that will bring water to the AgroSilvoPastoral zone below (fallowing for some years, soon to be turned productive), while leaving the top of monte for nature to restore, free of vehicular traffic.

After 3 days on this project over 3 weeks (1 day/wk being all the team could afford) , i can say at this point:

  • The road-way (maybe 300m?) is nearly complete, and we have transplanted every wild-olive tree that had to be uprooted from center of road-bed to one side, to create a living fence along downhill slope of the road;
  • The work was fast, furious and HEAVY (the root-ball on some of these trees took 2 or 3 of us to muscle into place), and getting these dozens of established trees back into ground, covered and watered before sunset of same day was no easy thing!
  • Being blessed with (a) a forgiving plant (wild olives are so hardy in this climate) and good soil on that slope; (b) water (from our new solar-powered/ gravity-fed irrigation system, plus a lucky rain after day 2 plantation) to get plants established; and (c) a great team [1], mission is nearly accomplished -to the point where i have to say: hot damn, this work is so obviously regenerative AND fun. let’s keep the momentum going!

To that end, on a related note, i have been so inspired by this Ecosystem Restoration Camp project initiated by John D. Liu that i have joined the group and am planning to travel soon to Altiplano de Granada (Andalusia, Spain) to camp out onsite and do what i can to help… And i would encourage all interested parties to do likewise (perhaps we can organize to travel there together).

Moreover: Being so moved by the account of Strabo (classical Greek geographer/ historian/ philosopher) that -in his time- it was possible for a squirrel to traverse the Iberian peninsula without ever touching the ground (i.e. via one great forest canopy!), i’m thinking: if that was so not so many centuries ago, is there any reason why this cannot be the case again? In any case: is this not a vision worth working toward, to whatever extent we might succeed?

So: a few of us are hatching a scheme to do our own version of an Ecosystem Restoration Camp right here in southern Portugal, this coming fall/winter of 2017-18. If you too are inspired by the work of John Liu (+ thousands of followers!), the vision of Strabo and the passion to pitch in and join forces with your brothers&sisters in arms down here in Algarve for a fun & regenerative experience next fall, then please email me about your interest.

[1] Can’t close this post without a giving due credit to the crew:

  • Hugo Oliveira : Ecologist & Landscape Designer extraordinaire;
  • Mestre Antonio Borralho: artist of the backhoe (who uproots trees with such sensitivity, they don’t seem to mind much)
  • Ricardo Gomes: who swings a mean enchada but always with a lightness of spirit that is inspiring.

It’s a pleasure working with you guys, and a real testament to how much can be accomplished by a small team in so little time!


Written by: VDL Team

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