INTO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Finding visions for the future in the
North, center & Alentejo Region | PORTUGAL
“ Together we restore the balance.“
On Assignment for AHRESP (Association of Hospitality and Catering of
Portugal) I went to discover the „North, Center and Alentejo“ regions in Portugal and learn about the roots of Portuguese flavours.
„Quinta da Herdade Freixo do Meio“ is the name of an organic farm embedded in the beautiful landscape of the Alentejo region, 114 kms east of Lisbon, Portugal.
30 years ago the „Cooperativa de Usuários do Freixo do Meio“ was founded, based on the ethical values of agroecology, food sovereignty and permaculture.
Alfredo Cunhal Sendim has inherited the farm from his family and represents the 6th generation in the business. It was him, who brought the ancestral farming system of the region, called „Montado“, back to the farm in 1997.
On 520ha it is build on the principles of organic and biodynamic farming, as well as on permaculture techniques, better adapted to local natural conditions and thereby more efficient in terms of environmental costs.
The farm is formed as a community model. Every fortnight they meet to talk about current challenges; everyone working at the farm can propose ideas and is treated as equal. Discussions take place until consent is reached.
This effort to reach harmony between the workers and every participant of the community is also inspired by the symbiotic liaison,
Sven moved from Hamburg to this farm in 2016 and is working as the farm manager today. On a walk around the farmland he is explaining the ecological, but also societal principles and it becomes obvious,
that he truly found his place and purpose here.
The production includes more than 200 certified organic products, such as organic fruits and vegetables, artisan bread and cereals. Juices and wine,
as well as olive oil and vinegar are also being produced.
To preserve this unique ecosystem, the farm invites everyone to visit and contemplate, to learn about the history and to taste their produce –
as humans, after all, tend to especially care for and save the things,
that they know, the things that are close to their hearts.
At the farm restaurant “Cabana dos Bois” you can taste their local products. A vegetarian menu is served as well as an „Acorn menu“ for the bold and curious!
Currently the farm is operating different environmental projects: With future generations in mind, they perform reforestation campaigns, plant dynamic successive agroforests and foster habitat protection.
If you wish to contribute your time, knowledge, financial or other resources, please feel free to contact them and become a part of their
The possibility of a sustainable farming system, that would serve beneficial to men and nature alike, might feel like a distant dream. Surrounded by the portuguese countryside, only disrupted by small villages, I’m tempted to believe we actually can put a speed limit on mankind and its crazy hunt for prosperity. On this small scale peaceful coexistence is even possible including consumption of animal produce.
My mind kept wandering as my feet discovered the beautiful streets of Évora, the capitol of the Alentejo region. A city, that might very well check all the boxes when imagining the perfect Portuguese town.
Freshly revived another small scale producer was at my schedule on the next day: The „Quinta do Barrigoso“ in the historical village of Castelo Novo in the central region of Portugal.
After visiting the production side, I’m offered a tasting of the various famous cheeses from this farm, which is exemplary for the Fundão region.
Of course the meal is completed with fresh local bread and olive oil.
Fine flavors of younger as well as aged cheeses are paired with different
Stepping outside, this coolness immediately fades into a memory, as the fresh and slightly acidic smell of lemons warmed by the sun overflows
Lemontrees brimfull with large yellow fruits surround the house…
The last chapter of my Portuguese memories was written in the North of Portugal, in the Douro region, east of Porto.
While this region is especially famous for its port wine, I spent a few hours in a highly modern and dimlit museum, digging even deeper into the past:
At „Museu do Côa“ an impressive amount of prehistoric cave art from the surrounding Côa Valley builds a bridge to the life in this region
25.000 years ago.
But what feels like romanticised stories and an efflorescence of nostalgia, could very well serve as a compass to find the direction which the next step of humanity should follow.