Nestled between a Natural Reserve that is home to pink flamingos, the historic town of Castro Marim and the endless sandy beaches of the Algarve, lies this active traditional farm, surrounded by 12 hectares of organic Mediterranean orchards with figs, oranges, olives and carob trees.
We can trace our family history up to the famous portuguese 1755 earthquake (that destroyed Lisbon center and erase all Algarve fisherman villages from the map). Survivors settled on higher fields and started to work more on agriculture. The ‘Celorico’ family settled on S. Bartolomeu do Sul, the higher area on the surrondings and from there spread from generation to generation.
Those days implied a harmonious living with nature specially because water scarcity implied usage of special stretagies to be able to produce vegetables – like sheep fertilization, dust strategies against mold and fungus, and saving the seeds of the more resilient and sweet fruits to plant year after year – and tree planting did not existed.
Relying on nature intelligence my ancestors allowed wild varieties of trees to grow where they found the strenght and after some years grafted them into a choosen domestic variety. This implied a closer look to the best simbiotic relationship between the tree and the type of soil and learning from observing nature magic. Today we now – scientificaly – that olives core only grow after an acid shock, but long time ago people knew that in october seagles came from the sea to eat the mature olives and after digestion the seed was droped several kilometres from the mother tree and only the strongest and more adapted germinated in the best and suitable lands. Pure nature wisdom!
Years have passed and I’m proud that I chose to leave my ‘post-modern future of marketing researcher’ to return to my family lands and keep foward the work of my father – that on his time abandoned his historian teacher work to help his father the same way.
There is an emergency situation to attend. All this knowledge effortly saved through generations is now jeopardized because of this arrogant theory that science knows better. Tecnological development puts productivity at short term as goal thus forgetting that fragile interrelationships between ecosystems are the reason of fertility and long term existence. I feel I was just in time to listen and learn how to graft from 75 year old man from S. Bartolomeu village, to learn that when I see ‘Zurzais’ – a bird – means that my fig crop must start, to understand why carob tree must be planted, even though the fruit is totally forgotten and unsaleable, because she strives without water and with time provides more organic matter to the soil than it takes and by that, heals the eroted lands.
Mediterranean areas are exposed to high UV ray in the summer that, if directly reach the soil, dehydrats all organic matter. Trees provide the necessary shadow to avoid this – a funny umbrella shape – and so, thats why we chose to work on this basis. Orchards of mediterranean trees don’t need artificial watering systems because they capture 30% of water rains in winter and their root system goes deep to find moisture in the soil in dry years with less rain. They release this moisture slowly through transpiration during all year allowing other bushes and plants to absorv it and strive underneath their shade.
Understanding how to work with nature and not against her will allow my children to have a future here. Because where we live is a pre-desertic area of hot Sahara winds influence, bad management of lands can alow it to spread here. And thus becoming unbearable to human survival.