QUINTA DAS ABELHAS
In January 2017, we purchased 25 acres of degraded pine monoculture farmland near the Serra da Estrela mountains in Central Portugal. We named the land Quinta Das Abelhas, Bee Farm in English, with the aim to bring back wildlife and create a safe space for pollinators, in particular the honey bees. 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 hoopoe rearing their young and bats breeding on the land.
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, our neighbours horses came to the land which began a two year exploration into regenerative grazing and us being with these incredible animals. This opened up the land to new potential, in particular we have seen the increase of mushroom and bug life, the manure enriching soil and land life. We are currently building a chicken tractor and diving into this next phase of our animal journey.
Returning the Apple Orchard to Health
We have approximately 500 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 diversity in this small one hectare monoculture.
Each year the food growing area expands on the land, becoming more local in all our food purchases from neighbouring producers.
From a land abandoned 40 years ago, we are renovating 2 granite buildings back to life. For us it is like bringing back a little piece of history and such an honour we are able to do this.