Currently, food systems are collapsing, due to the increasing in the world population and the burden they exert on the planet’s resources and ecosystems. There are projects that try to make food more sustainable. One example is Quinta do Vesseiro, in Arcozelo da Serra, Portugal.
Curious? Come with us and get to know Quinta do Vesseiro, and one of the most sustainable ways of local food production.
In Serra da Estrela, Guarda, Portugal…
… Quinta do Vesseiro was created, to raise native animals, with full respect for the environment and the animals themselves. The creation of indigenous breeds aims to contribute to the rehabilitation of the interior of the country, promoting the “defense of the native forest and trees and shrubs in Portugal” and minimizing the consequences of the fires that have devastated these regions.
Breeding animals is done in freedom, where animal welfare is essential, “respecting their basic needs, joining the natural regeneration of soils, trees and the environment in general". Extensive production is “essential to regenerate the interior of our country and contribute to the environmental sustainability of Portugal".
So they chose to create their farm for agro production in a disadvantaged mountain area, with a low population density, which is increasingly aged and plagued by fires.
For Quinta do Vesseiro, the imbalances created in ecosystems in the interior of the country can be irreversible and, are due to:
. the growing extinction of animal species,
. the disappearance of indigenous breeds,
. the abandonment of agriculture and the consequent forest disorder;
. the mass agricultural production with no respect for the planet’s resources.
“… We believe that everyone has their own responsibility in finding solutions to these problems and we want to do“ our part ”!
The development of agricultural and livestock activities in the interior of the country, fall within the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030:
. “Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests in a sustainable manner, combat desertification, stop and reverse soil degradation and halt the loss of biodiversity" (objective 15);
. “Adopt urgent measures to combat climate change and its impacts” (objective No. 13);
. “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” (objective No. 12).
Quinta do Vesseiro goals are…
… the managing a farm, always respecting the existing natural resources and promoting, at the same time, the regeneration of the ecosystem in the production unit. The intelligent and balanced management of soil, water and energy, the promotion of biodiversity,and respect for the welfare of the animals they raise is essential for sustainable breeding. By raising animals extensively, in freedom, and in full respect for their natural needs, they are able to help protect biodiversity, improve soil fertility and develop natural fire protection mechanisms. In conclusion, they want to be “a brand that generates vitality that, through these production methods, contributes to the development of this disadvantaged mountain area, and provides products that promote health, with respect for the environment”.
The animals are raised respecting the organic farming procedures,…
… traditionally and extensively, “respecting the principles of sustainability and balance of the ecosystem where the farm is inserted”.
They raise breeds in danger of extinction, such as mountain goats and Portuguese Pedrê breed poultry.
Quinta do Vesseiro is a sustainable farm because…
… is managed by the principles of organic farming and is an ecological and sustainable production, which respects Nature, by promoting the improvement of soil structure and natural pastures, animal welfare and natural fire prevention. They work with Nature, using sustainable agricultural practices and managing resources efficiently.
They are “revitalizing” an abandoned and full land of potential but which has been plagued by constant fires. To this end, they are developing ways to use and reuse rainwater and understand how they can improve the rotation system of pastures, making the animalscontribute to the cleaning of vegetation and woody material. Rotation favours soil regeneration and natural improvement of pastures and their quality and diversity. The rotation system also improves the incidence of parasites, reducing the use of products to fight them.
Local fauna, the non-use of chemicals harmful to living beings, the encouragement of natural pollination, and the development of natural practices for pest control is important to them.
The existence of freshwater streams, trees and native shrubs promote the existence of a healthy and nutritious ecosystem. Pastoralism helps to keep these areas free from weeds, without harming the local fauna.
The entire system is based on integrated and sustainable activities in order to be able to provide healthy and ecological products to its consumers.
Quinta do Vesseiro is a new project with some challenges ahead, because…
… the daily life of an agricultural farm is physically and mentally demanding, “requires constant updating of legislation and procedures, and requires daily attention directed at animals, infrastructure, the quality of the work carried out and the integral management of the entire farm ”.
The knowledge acquired over time and the competent technical support is essential for the development of activities in an exploration of this nature. The creation of production units in disadvantaged areas is not easy, as “most producers do not promote self-sustainable management mechanisms that are balanced with the environment. There is still a lot of mistrust with new forms and modern and balanced production tools ”.
They are still in the process of creating partnerships for direct sales to the consumer.
… the consumer is more aware of the importance of consuming food produced in a more sustainable way and with a balanced management of resources. They believe that “the production of quality products, promoting sustainable development, combined with an efficient management of available resources, with a view to respecting animal welfare, landscapes, and the surrounding habitat, is increasingly present in the demands of consumers”.
So that food sustainability can be a concern with impact,…
… Quinta do Vesseiro suggests that there is a need to improvement in the communication strategy, related to this theme, to the general public. “The process is slow and time consuming, as are cultural changes”.
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