QUINTA DAS ABELHAS
In January 2017, 25 acres of degraded pine monoculture farmland was purchased near the Serra da Estrela mountains in Central Portugal. We named the land Quinta Das Abelhas, Honey Bee Farm in English, with the aim to bring back wildlife and create a safe space for pollinators. With much observation at the start, we slowly began with strategic land interventions guided by nature and witnessed how transformation of human abused ecosystems can occur quickly. We began by gently removing the dying pine monoculture (caused by the the nematode disease) to allow light to return to the forest floor. This allowed the dormant native trees to reawaken and oak, chestnut and alder buckthorn burst through. We watched the land reforesting itself.
We composted, green manured, mulched, applied water retention strategies such as swales, planted fruit, nut and native trees and grew our own food. Over time we began to see a significant increase in the number and diversity of wild flowers, plants and insects. This has led to many more pollinators, bugs, butterflies, worms and bees with the bird life increasing rapidly. Highlights have been the exotic hoopoe rearing their young and bats breeding on the land. Our focus for 2021 - 2023 is on planting a pollinator centric forest to create all year round forage for the small insects and creatures.
The Honey Bees
Our purpose is to see more honey bees living wild in the trees as nature intended. To replicate tree homes, we have been producing and installing log hives on our land and neighbouring regeneration projects. These bee homes are not honey production centred but simply for the purpose of improving honey bee health.
Horses and Regenerative Grazing
In 2020 we bought horses to the land to explore regenerative grazing which opened up the land to new potential. We have further seen the increase of mushroom and bug life, the manure enriching soil and land life. From this initial learning over the coming years we will turn the land into a Paddocks Paradise. This is an exciting new natural boarding concept based on Jaime Jackson's research into how horses live in the wild. It has many benefits that include providing a more stimulating environment for the horse which discourages vices and encourages more movement which benefits the overall health of the horse.
Returning the Apple Orchard to Health
We have over 700 apple trees of four different species that was once maintained by pesticides. We have witnessed the trees on a chemical detox and slowly they are naturally returning to health through horse manure and nettle composting. Over the coming years we will include other species to support greater pollinator diversity in this small one hectare monoculture.
Each year the food growing area expands with an exploration into becoming more locally sustainability in the valley and surrounding areas.