agroecology at Peneda ecofarm

Agroecology at the farm

We are inspired by the principles of agroecology and permaculture, seeking an holistic and integrated understanding of human-nature relationships.

Peneda ecofarm is located on the fringes of the Peneda Gerês National Park (World Biosphere Reserve), between the rivers Lima and Vez, in the municipality of Arcos de Valdevez. With an area of about 8 ha, distributed between the parishes of Vale and Oliveira, the farm is dedicated to the organic production of chestnut, varied fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and aromatic herbs, following agroecology practices.

This type of agriculture invests in high levels of domestic and wild biodiversity and is inspired by the natural successions that occur in nature.
The temple of all this activity is the maintenance of a living soil, which supports a balanced and healthy ecosystem.
Such an agro-system is characterized by a large number of products available seasonally in small quantities, unlike typical mono-cultures in conventional industrial agriculture, which usually provide a single product in large quantities.
Such work involves constant attention and observation, the search for different sources of knowledge in books, on the internet, through sharing with other holistic farmers, and the development of intuition.

Peneda ecofarm organic agroecology farming

1. Agroforestry in Vale – agriculture with a forest ecosystem approach

Located in the parish of Vale, it has an area of ​​about 6 hectares classified as Ecological National Reserve. It used to be an old pine forest, which burned completely about 3 years before the beginning of this project. All the area is identified as having a high risk of fire.
The land was initially composed of pioneer vegetation, essentially gorse and heather. It includes two non-permanent water lines. It has an average slope of about 25%, with clear signs of erosion. The soil is classified as sandy-loam with a large amount of stone of various volumetries. The pH was very acidic.
Agroforestry is a concept of integrated land use that combines elements of agriculture and forestry in a sustainable production system. An emphasis on managing rather than reducing complexity promotes a functionally biodiverse system that balances productivity with environmental protection.
Agroforestry systems support the production of a wide range of products including food, fuel, fodder and forage, fiber, timber, gums and resins, hedging materials, gardening materials, medicinal products, craft products, recreation, and ecological services.
The role of agroforestry in protecting the environment and providing a number of ecosystem services is a key benefit of integrating trees into farming systems. Other such benefits include regulation of soil, water and air quality, enhancement of biodiversity, pest and disease control, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The potential of agroforestry as a sustainable land-use system that combines production with conservation of natural resources has not yet been fully realized in temperate regions.
The design of the intervention in Vale involves planting of various mixed native tree species, providing food, timber, shade and wind-breaks. For the moment we are addressing the fire risk by keeping vegetation cut to the ground in a certain range all around the land’s perimeter – this because fire almost always starts by (criminal) human hand and will come from the outside.

So, right now we are mainly planting

We foresee the introduction of aromatic and medicinal plants. It is intended to install hives to reinforce pollination in the ecosystem.

2. Varied fruit orchard in Oliveira

Located in the parish of Oliveira, it has an area of ​​about 1 hectare and an average slope of 25%. The plantation design privileged the coexistence of a great diversity of fruit trees planted together: walnut, macadamia, hazelnut, avocado, oranges, tangerines and lemons, apples and pears, apricot, peaches, quinces, plums, persimmon, loquat, cherry , chestnut, passion fruit, grapes, and small berries: blueberries, raspberries and currants. Whenever possible, we have chosen indigenous regional varieties. A mixture of green soil-improving fertilizers was sown. Aromatic and medicinal plants are being introduced. The areas surrounding the orchard are being planted with live hedges: blackthorn, hawthorn, cherry, elderberry, viburnum, among others. The soil of the entire orchard is being improved regarding it’s fertility with the introduction of organic matter in the contour lines by placing prunned wood on the ground. The trees are receiving composted manure and chippings. Dynamic nutrient accumulator plants are being installed in their vicinity. Agroecology at its best!

3. Vegetable garden

The design of the vegetable garden involves concepts of green manure, rotation, inter-cropping and composting. The seeds used are mostly collected from the Quinta itself.

4. Greenhouse

To support the multiplication of plants by sowing or cuttings we built a small greenhouse-dome. We keep making new plants from already installed ones, and we grow our vegetable garden seedlings here as well.

5. Chickens

Raised in the open air, living in a mobile chicken coop, the Peneda ecofarm hens fulfill their function in the ecosystem cleaning crops, superficially working the soil and regulating insect populations, while also adding soil fertility naturally through their waste. Their food is provided with products originating from the Quinta itself, complemented with traditional ancient grown corn from a friend farm, without antibiotics, hormones or GMOs.
Periodically our hens provide us with beautiful and nutritious eggs. The mobile chicken coop and the grazing area keeps rotating throughout the year.

Peneda ecofarm chickens are of the «Pedrês Portuguesa» breed, an indigenous breed very interesting for its vitality, rusticity and resistance to diseases and adverse environmental factors.

6. Shiitake mushrooms grown in the semi open air


Lentinula edodes (shiitake) grows as saprophytes in tree wood, forming fruiting bodies when environmental conditions are favorable. Taking advantage of the cutting of oaks and chestnut trees in areas where we were interested in diversifying the ecosystem, we proceeded to inoculate logs. Nature always offers us huge and very tasty mushrooms… whenever she feels like it, let’s be honest!

Organic Farming!

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