Our path since 1993 has been to go back to the ancestral approach of trying to solve our problems while still respecting the limits of Nature, which means in practice to understand that we are here to be a part of a system that created us, because it needs us (Gaia, the macro-entity), and only acting on the whole can we get to us. This is Agroecology, an ancestral ethic, a science, but essentially an ideological movement. Here it is called Montado. A agroecological system initiated in the Neolithic, later developed during the Middle Ages, to where we return initially as a safe harbor.
We were helped by History through the work of Ana Fonseca. To move from a chemical and mechanical model to the ancestral agroecology of the Montado, was a first step supported by the, then pioneering, movement of organic agriculture that allowed us to essentially revert the path of destruction and dependency. We now count more than two decades of respect for the natural cycles of fertility, and the empowerment of biodiversity. More than two decades without chemicals or transgenics, promoting forest regeneration, after consciously and effectively abandoning the agricultural model followed by the Estado Novo (Portugal’s old regime) and continued through the periods of post-revolution and entering the European Union.
The Montado allowed us to create a different economy that besides creating jobs to 10 times more people than the regional average (30/3) provides food in a different way, every day, to fulfill at least 50% of their needs, to over 300 families (of 3 persons). We went from 3 products (sheep, wheat and cork) to over 50 with economic focus. We learned how to transform natural resources into food. And we built from the ground up, seven units of food processing. Many investments of various sorts were needed, but we survived. We were pioneers of “Farm-to-fork”, going closer to the consumers on the markets, later with a shop in Lisbon, creating one of the first Consumer Supported Agriculture movements (CSA Crop Sharing), as well as having one of the first farmer online shops in Portugal.
But it’s not enough. We should be able to feed twenty times more people without degrading the ecosystems in order to achieve true food sovereignty. For that we have to regenerate. And that is why we actively seek to experiment and introduce models and techniques that will allow us to get there. Through Agroecology, Permaculture, Montado, Organic farming, Biodynamic farming, agroforestry of dynamic succession, working with water, fungi and microorganisms, regenerative forestry, holistic animal husbandry, and many other visions currently in place. The Protected Area of Montado do Freixo do Meio, through its three areas, of conservation, montado and innovation, allows us to reconcile the past with the present, and both with the dreams and challenges of the future.
To get your food from Montado do Freixo do Meio is more than participating in the fair sharing of an essential good obtained in agroecological ways. It is essentially an opportunity to regenerate this piece of our home, and making it yours. In a conscious, ordained, safe and collective manner, through the project of the Cooperativa de Usuários do Freixo do Meio.