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

A week long nature pilgrimage through the beautiful Dão valley from the source to the mouth of the river.

Hello friends of Moinhos do Dão,

With this program a long cherished wish has come to fruition: to really get to know the Dão and to contribute to sustainable development in the valley. After a period of research and a lot of hiking, the program is ready to be shared with the world. I hope the story of the Caminho do Dão inspires you to put on your hiking boots!

Developing the hike has been a strong confirmation of the power of walking and rarely have I felt as free as when I walked the length of the Dão river last spring. Stepping onto the trail each morning to walk into the world and let the valley reveal itself during the day was always uplifting. It is a rich and diverse piece of Portugal with so much to see, enjoy and contemplate on.

The Dão valley has its own story to tell: about a landscape in the 21st century and how it is shaped by the current social, economic and climate realities. A story about how nature survives and struggles, about the geology of a river valley and the many, many different ways people interact with the land. As one perceptive hiker said: I find it interesting as a product: romance and reality.

Join the Caminho do Dão and experience spring in the river valley.
2020 hiking programs: April 25 till May 2 and May 16 till 23

More information:

Forestry Weeks at Moinhos do Dão, from the 18th till the 30th of November

Planting trees and seeds because the Dão valley and Mother Earth can use some extra help.

November is the best time of the year for seeding and planting. We have a lot of young trees ready to be planted and hundreds of acorns, chestnuts and hazelnuts to put in the ground. Besides planting and seeding we’ll also be removing shrubs and non-native trees to make space for the planting and seeding. This effort will be part of ‘A Grande Bolotada Ibérica’ (the Big Iberian Acorn Seeding) where thousands of people across the Iberic Peninsula are joining in the important effort to of reforestation. Join them and us by doing your part in bringing back the native forests in the Dão valley.
Why? Because these forests support the local biodiversity, are less susceptible to fires, play a big role in keeping a healthy water cycle and the prevention of desertification, not to forget to mention that planting forests is a way of storing carbon and act against climate break down.
Sounds like the right thing to do...right?

You can come help for a day, a few days or a week if you want. The Moinhos has comfy places to stay, we’ll be preparing meals together and in the evening you can put your feet up and relax by the fire place. For those spending the night and staying more days there is a cost of € 10 per day incl. food. We’ll be working with a group of maximum 8 people.

If you want to know more, or let us know you are interested in coming, please send us a message.
Also please share with people you know who might be interested!

Looking forward 🙂
Freya & Steve

Forestry Weekend Nov 2018 with the Xerox team

Writing Week ‘Time to Write’ 2019

The third edition of our annual writing week 'Time to Write' took place from June 1st till June 8th and we look back with a smile on our face. We had a 'full house', the program being sold out and two Portuguese cooks (Hugo and Nuno) singing in the kitchen. Laughter was heard all day long, everyone worked hard, the food was always good and friends were made.
This was one of those moments where the qualities of Moinhos do Dão could be experienced in full. Everyone has a comfy bed, the food is healthy and colorful, the locations for the work sessions inspiring and all that in a green valley full of life.
We are looking forward to the next activity week!

Antipasti Dinner Buffet.

Working on a new activity ~ Caminho do Dão

Walking is one of the most basic of activities we can engage in and it can generate a profound connection to the world around us, the people we walk with and to ourselves. When we walk we experience a one on one with the world and all its phenomena. If you want to get to know a place, you walk through it. The pilgrim walks to be present and to experience regeneration. Many philosophers and sages (Nietsche, Thoreau, The Buddha, Ghandi etc.) have gone before us and it was during the act of walking that their insights came and their work manifested. The Dão river and valley provide an interesting set of conditions that are ideal for developing a caminho that is dedicated to this connection to the world and to ourselves.

The goal of the Caminho do Dão project is to facilitate an experience of being in a healthy relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world that we are part of.


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.