THE MONTADO

A Herdade do Freixo do Meio

The Montado is an agrosilvopastoral system explored at several levels – trees, bushes and herbs – according to the potential of each region

 

The Herdade do Freixo do Meio stands at the geological border between High Alentejo and Ribatejo, near the village of Foros de Vale de Figueira. This village is a recent settlement, born last century and inhabited in 2011 by 1070 people. However, the human traces located inside the estate date back to the ancient Neolithic.

Since then, in several forms during different eras, the multiple cultures passing the region shaped the Mediterranean forest into what, since the Middle Ages, we call Montado, an agro-silvo-pastoral system of agroforest and with multiple uses, that allowed us to arrive to the first half of last century without introducing any external production facto into our ecosystems.

The efficiency of this form of cooperation with the planet was cancelled, first by the wheat campaigns and then by the green revolution coinciding with the subjugation of the agricultural sector to the industrial sector, and later to centralized and concentrated distribution.

In 1990, a new generation of the Praça Cunhal family, stewards of the estate for four generations, took on their hands the responsibility to manage it, adopting a mission based on high standards, transparency, knowledge, and innovation. The bankruptcy of industrial farming model inherited from the post-revolution collectivization period, and fostered by the European Union, as practiced during the first years of Herdade do Freixo do Meio, led to the decision to go back to the agroecological practices of the montado.

The choice was made in 2001 in favor of organic farming as the way to efficiently.

The model in practice at the farm since the beginning of this century, prioritizes the reestablishment of soil and the various layers of the system (trees, bushes and herbs), based on complex ecosystems and natural, local fertility cycles.

Gradually the project was forced to organize around a multi-function concept, where at one time and space we manage forestry, agricultural and livestock activities, fruit, vegetables, food transformation and distribution, retail, environmental services, energy productions, investigation and tourism and learning services.

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