2017 Fire Relief Fund

Quinta das Moitas Earth Neighbourhood - Fire Relief Fund First of all, I’d like to give you a brief description of my projects ... What is Quinta das Moitas? What am I creating here? The vision here at Quinta das Moitas is of regenerating the farm into an abundant landscape using strategies derived from syntropic agriculture and permaculture principles. It is also an initiative of neighbouring custodians of land joining together in a common unity based on land regeneration and conservation - restoring the entire shared landscape into a healthy and productive eco-system where animals (wild and domestic) are treated as integral partners. This project I’ve called Earth Neighbours. What is Earth Neighbours? What is the vision? Earth Neighbours is an initiative about connecting people and facilitating access to aggregate areas of abandoned land primarily focusing around existing regeneration projects. It’s about helping to create communities made up of people that share the will of working together in synergy towards the regeneration and the conservation of land. The idea, essentially is about creating neighbourhoods that contribute towards autonomy and abundance but also towards protection by way of design. They can be seen as immune cells, responding to a world of great change. What has happened now? Why am I seeking funding? On July 18, 2017, Quinta das Moitas suffered a terrible blow. A bush fire, approaching from the West broke the sacred boundary at the chapel and unstoppably engulfed virtually the whole of my farm, where I'd spent 6 years planting and nursing trees turning my reforesting efforts to ashes. On the bright side, the immediate area around the buildings - the core of the farm - was spared. However we lost a caravan, used to accommodate volunteers and the yurt that my partner was using for yoga classes suffered damages in excess of €2000. The brand new cover installed only last month has now been rendered useless. We also lost half of our hives, but feel lucky that half of them survived. Disaster or Opportunity? It is a crisis, no doubt, but I’m using it as an opportunity to reach out and ask for help to anyone who wishes to give something, and also to make a sincere and concerted effort to protect this place from the risk of fire, which sooner or later is certain to start again somewhere close by. This must be done for the sake of my farm, animals and all staying here. This responsibility can not be taken lightly and so below in the next section is a staged plan of what I intend to put into action depending on the amount of funding that I receive. Replacement of yurt, caravan and hives - We need to fix the yurt, find another affordable caravan for work exchange guests and purchase some new top bar hives. Luckily we’ve had a friend offer us some of their second hand canvas so most of the material for the yurt repair is already covered and mainly need to cover the labor costs for this. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €2250.00 Clean up, work day - I will be organizing a community work day and inviting all friends and interested parties to come and help clear the fire damaged areas of the quinta. The work will involve removing all remaining fire damaged organic matter and either putting them into piles from which I can then later use to create bio-char or laying it all down along contours of the land to help prevent erosion. ALL will be welcome (young and old, local and foreign, in shape or out of shape - no one will be judged by what they can or can't do - all help is appreciated). This will also be an open invitation to all who want to learn more about this project is about. The morning will involve 4 hours of hands on work clearing fire debris then we will break at lunch time and have a shared meal followed by socialising and discussion. Later in the afternoon, starting from 6pm there will be the opportunity to celebrate the theme of renewal and regeneration with some roots reggae sounds. Event date to be confirmed. Total Estimated Funding Requirement: none Animal yard with shelter - Construction of an animal shelter within a designated area behind the barn that I wish to have fenced in. This will be used as a base for a small number of grazing animals. I will be sourcing fencing from a local supplier and viable wood from another reforesting project nearby where they intend to clear mature pines (pinho bravo) to give space for young natives such as oaks and chestnuts that are coming through. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1200.00 Animals and mobile fencing - Make an initial purchase of 12 sheep, 2 goats and a mobile fencing system that can be used to create small fenced in cells that are moved around the perimeter of the land and used to manage the animals within a contained area to help keep the grasses and brush down. These can be used particularly in key areas that are most fire prone due to the prevailing winds (east-south easterly and westerly). These will also be used as a shared resource with my Earth Neighbours – Claus and Rachael. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1500.00 ---------- Please note: ALL the funding points listed from here on are in joint collaboration with my Earth Neighbours – Claus and Rachael who have also suffered losses from the fire. Therefore any funds raised beyond the above amounts will be shared equally between us and working together with regards to creating an effective fire break solution. ---------- Fixed fencing to create a corridor around perimeter of farm - If enough money can be raised for fixed fencing then at least a 15-20m wide grazing corridors can be set up around various zones between me and Claus’s quinta for keeping the grass and other growth down, effectively creating fire breaks. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - Starting from €1500.00 Planting out with fire retardant plants - The idea is to create animal corridors (or alleys) around perimeters and certain areas of our farms. It will involve planting out the alley walls with low fire risk shrubs and trees, obtainable here in Portugal, such as Oleander shrub and Paulownia Tomentosa tree (which is good for my bees also), Robinia Pseudoacacia (which some consider to invasive, but which has huge benefits in the context of reducing fire risks). It will also involve rigging up a simple irrigation system for the first two fire seasons. This step, and the one prior to it (plants and animals) will only be able to take place in November when hopefully the rains will have come and enough greenery has returned to keep the animals happy. My neighbour Claus is already working on germinating Paulownias and we are also undergoing further investigations aiming at identifying other suitable and available fire retardant species that are readily available here in Portugal. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1500.00 This last stage of the plan is highly dependent on whether enough funding can be raised. It will not be considered as a crucial step but would be highly beneficial if it can happen. It requires all the partially burnt organic matter that has been stacked into piles to be shredded into charred woodchips for use as mulch. This greatly diminishes the combustibility index of the organic matter and contributes towards increasing soil moisture. The issue is getting hold of a wood chipper. There are various options available but in our recent local meeting based on creating a community fire response team we discussed the purchasing of a chipper for the shredding of organic matter on each of our farms, which would cost anywhere starting from around €6000. If we can raise €1000 then both me and my neighbour Claus can participate in a community share program where we can each invest €500 to be part of the community chipper share program. Total Estimated Funding Requirement - €1000.00 Implementing these steps successfully - The degree to which I can implement the above all this depends on the funding that I’m able to raise through my own efforts, so I'm creating this campaign as a relief fund for Quinta das Moitas, but also for anyone that would like to help support the cause of creating effective fire break solutions that provide added value such as wool, milk, honey and wood and as a demonstration of something that can actually work. I hope this gives you a fair idea of my intentions. If you resonate with the project, feel inclined and are in a position to make a donation then I will consider that a blessing. If you’re not able to make a donation but would still like to help then you could do so by sharing this campaign and also visiting my support page that describes many ways in which willing contributors can help. Thank you. Obrigado. Peace and Blessings to all. Oxalá! Insha’allah!
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Below I’ve posted some blog articles that show some of the work that I’ve been doing here:

This is the project that I’ve started regarding gathering community together on joining lands, to regenerate, protect and conserve.

ReOccupy Portugal

A bushfire that came from the East (the opposite direction of this last one) during one of the driest winters in 30 years. Only damaged the corner of my land that time.

Bushfire in February!

Some of the trees that I’ve planted during my time here:

February, A Tree a Day

And this one, a more recent post, showing some pictures of the damage that occurred on the farm from the fire, and the interview with TVI Portugal.

Respect for Nature

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