Lisa’s story – Micro Reserve

As part of my studies “International Forest Ecosystem Management” I spent three months at the Moinhos do Dão, focusing on the forest restoration work in the Micro Reserve.

Its been a great learning experience to spend that much time on this hill. Getting to know the soil, the plants, the heat and drought in summer, as well as the heavy rains and frosty nights in autumn. And with all these impressions, trying to envision a transformation into a more resilient and diverse ecosystem. Trying to find the role that we as humans can play in supporting the change. It’s been a gift to hear about the experiences that Freya and Steven made in the last years, to learn about their methods and to evolve new ones together. There is lots of space for new ideas and suggestions!

After many hours of pullerbearing, bramble-removing, mulching, seeding and planting, it’s amazing to see how the land has changed. From a non-accessible hill that is covered with tall broom to a rocky landscape with little paths that I love to walk on. Amazed by all the life that is found under that layer of broom: Saplings and larger trees of endemic oak species, strawberry trees, pines, hawthorns, an olive tree, native blooming shrubs and wild roses. Seeing these plants is what kept me going during the work. What gave me patience to dig up one bramble after the other, and perseverance in fighting with broom in the heat. Sometimes it felt quite destructive to pull out so many plants by their root, burning them, basically clear-cutting an area. To see these trees and saplings that are there already, and that now have light and space to grow tall, to spread their own seeds and to eventually form a self-regulated forest ecosystem that provides habitat for many more species. Seeing how easily broom and brambles catch and spread fire made it more understandable why we burn some of the woody material.

I loved to walk through the surrounding forests, collecting acorns and little trees to transplant them. It feels good to give something back to the soil, to plant something into each hole that we create.

A beautiful experience was to spend a full moon night on the hill together with Mary Ellen and Rory. To wake up on that hill and spend a day there without doing anything but observing and enjoying what is there and what has changed the last weeks. Realizing again the beauty of this place and dreaming of the forest that might establish here in future.

I hope there will be many more people to come and learn from and with this beautiful hill!

Summer Newsletter 2020

Newsletter content:
Making the best of a different summer & memories of 2019.
Time for other things.
An update on the Caminho do Dão.
Moinhos do Dão ~ Great place to live! ~ Open for Partnerships.

Check out our recent Newsletter here to see what is (and not) going on at the quinta!

With greetings,
Freya & Steven

Sharing the experience with dedicated and kind volunteers.

The year 2018 has brought so many kind volunteers to be part of the quinta for a while. It was an all round uplifting experience and confirmed once again that sharing the experience with a variety of people enriches and deepens the experience. We are thankful: Britta, Lena, Lily, Marcel, Raffa, Olivia, Liedewij, the family van Dien, Bionic Piet, and the many others that helped the MdD thrive.

Spring buzzziness & another great experience working with volunteers.

This year is something else! Last year it was just warm and dry between February and October. Now we are getting it all: sun, rain, wind, warm, cold. Really starting to sound like a ‘farmer’ talking about the weather all the time. That’s just what happens when living so integrated with nature. We are surely feeling the spring energy ramping up and we are trying to keep up with all the seasonal changes going on. Today (April 12th) we are bracing for a storm that’s on the way and might dump 6 cm of rain in 4 days……. fingers crossed!

In the last three weeks we unexpectedly had some great help from two volunteers Aline and Duarte who contacted us through HelpX. The collaboration with them was really fluid and fun and together we got so many things done it felt like they were here for much longer than 3 weeks!

Just to enjoy and remember all the work that was done:
– Woodchipping a LARGE quantity of piles of sticks we had been saving up.
– Garden path and bed building.
– Wood management.
– Clearing out basements.
– Dogbed sowing.
– Old apple crate cleaning and sanding.
– Seeding and planting.
– Clearing pieces of our new terrain on the other side of the Dão.
– Plastics and trash removal from ‘The Island’, left by the high river of early January.
– Mimosa removal.

WOW!!!!! Thanks Aline and Duarte!