In 1990 a new generation took on the challenge to manage Herdade do Freixo do Meio, after the reversal of the expropriation that took place after the revolution, in 1975. The new management chose the ethics of agroecology, going back to the medieval agroecosystem of the Montado, as a way to address the present and build the future.
On the social front, the experiment relied on the re-creation of the sense of Community and Cooperation, through the Cooperative of Users of Freixo do Meio, the Crop Sharing CSA Program, and the path of common participation and construction of the Sociocracy, promoting several complementary forms of development.
For the Cooperative, the organization that fronts the collective responsibility to manage this ecosystem, the Montado is an inspiration, and, as all inspirations, it has both real and imaginary dimensions. In its own way it is an historical utopia, because although it can’t yet be perfected, it is as possible as our own existence.
The Cooperative is a space of cooperation, inclusion, personal development, labor and community building. Its mission is based on high standards, transparency, democratic participation, knowledge and the innovation of an agroforest model, now enhanced by the visions of science, permaculture and food sovereignty.
On a daily basis, the goal is to improve the relationship between human action and resources, like water, soil, biodiversity, energy, science and culture. The aim is clear in achieving real efficiency in all processes and usage of natural resources, as well as reducing waste and the ecological footprint.
A team of 35 people interacts with the ecosystem in obtaining a range of more than 300 food products, from our own organic agriculture, processed on site and distributed through a model of agroecological proximity consumption, through an online shop, and two actual shops, one on site and another at Av de Madrid, Lisbon.
The farm main house complex includes twelve micro-agro-industries, one restaurant/canteen, and rural lodgings.
As for management strategies, Montado do Freio do Meio is made of four typologies. A central area of traditional montado, with 275,30 ha (47% of total area) and a management centered on production, another area further south with 138,92 ha (24%) of mixed montado with a management centered on conservation and biodiversity, four areas of plant production and experimental agroforests occupy 64,55 ha in total (11%) and an area to the north destined to future Montado (18%) where several techniques of installation and maintenance of the forest with be tried, with a view on minimizing the effects of climate change.
Besides the productive and social component, there is also a strong experimental and empirical component. In that sense, we always tried to embrace and promote various investigation activities that allow, on one hand to validate or invalidate what is put into practice and, on the other hand, to better understand the repercussions of the actions directed at the various systems that make up this Montado.
Montado do Freixo do Meio was and still is object of many studies, researches, collaborations and projects, having presently various partnerships together with the Évora University, the Sciences Faculty of Lisbon University, Coimbra and the Catholic University at Porto, INIAV, etc.