The Land

With wind swept hills surrounding, Terra Alta offers a stellar example of a small-scale intensive Permaculture. The site has had several years of Permaculture development through which you can see the principles of design in action, strategies of implementation, and techniques of management.

terra altaTerra Alta is located in the bio-region of Sintra, Portugal close to a little village called Almoçageme, perched near the cliffs of the Atlantic.  It is positioned in between two amazing beaches called Praia da Adraga and Praia da Ursa. The land itself is surrounded by the remnants of the past: Cork Oak trees of an unknown antiquity, abandoned farm fields and orchards that dried up with the exhaustion of organic material through the use of chemicals,and also proliferating canes and blackberries. Terra Alta used to be one of those places but has been re-enlivened. Corks, apples, pears, stone fruit and English Oak are dispersed throughout the land from this yesteryear. These trees form the framework of our food forest that we have been planting ever wider every year since 2010.

The landscape is harsh at times with rain being empty for months in summer, while the winter brings the monsoon that is just as difficult. However, with our focus on regenerative technique such as water harvesting earthworks, soil biology stimulation, and plantings for bio-diversity, we are augmenting these factors and turning it into abundance. It doesn’t happen over night but “slow and steady wins the race”. Plus we make leaps and bounds every year through our own passion for the project and the giant pulses of energy that come from the manifestations known as Permaculture courses.

Huge sheet mulching project in the early stages in 2011, which has been a huge boast to the lands fertility.

Huge sheet mulching project in the early stages in 2011, which has been a huge boast to the lands fertility.

Over the years we have been developing the site with the use of intuition, direct observation and interpretation, application of patterns and permaculture principles, journey’s, and dousing. In fact, our large 2012 food forest planting was a direct mixture of all of these techniques as we approach a deeper connection with the land.

We have shaped the land for water retention and gardening space in many parts of the land. Furthermore we love building with earthen materials as it gives us great pleasure. In essence our aim is space creation for transformation, a biological classroom full of sub-concious lessons only to be understood later. Our intention is to continue to make connections on the land to bring our goals of off the grid living as much as possible.

Terra Alta base map, 2012

Terra Alta base map, 2012

Perone HiveOne of our main missions at the land is to give a refuge of safe haven to the Honey Bees. We feel connected to their energetic pathways and feel excited to trial the styles of Permi-apiculture and Oscar Perone. We seek to channel our understanding of Sacred Geometry even further into this process and find unique hive styles that suit this land.

Like many other places in Sintra, we are blessed with water and must thank those who planted all of those trees 170 years ago. Sintra itself is a great tale of reforestation showing that it does work, that climates can stabilize and water can pour from springs once more.

Our source, believed to be Moorish in its origins, is a horizontal well that a spring emerges replenishing our tank through a never ending process. The architecture on this well is amazing and the water in the tank ever so refreshing on our summer days. The vegetables and fruits are quite happy we have this source, as we are fortunate to be able to grow food all year around!!!!!

Terra Alta tank

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