Gautier and Doug traveled to Southern Portugal to attend a conference surrounding the issues of aquaculture and seed saving with “Rebel Farmer” Sepp Holzer. The seminar was held at an ecovillage focusing on peace education and appropriate technology called Tamera. Tamera is situated in the rolling hills of Southern Portugal in the province of Alentago. This area faces the pressures of desertification from the poor agriculture and monoculture silviculture practices of the industrial society. Its Cork and Holm Oaks face intense stress from the dropping water table and increased catastrophic fire risk.
Tamera however is turning a patch of land that would be desert within 10-15 years according to Sepp into an oasis full of abundance. They are being led by design work from Sepp Holzer to transform this dry, dusty parched plot into an edible landscape dotted with water bodies. The large lake built a year and half ago dominates the landscape now with a huge volume of water being held on site rather than it being in the ocean by now. This helps to regenerate the land as the surrounding terrestrial body becomes a sponge for the water that is held there behind the massive dam wall.
The course itself gave insight into species of plants and fish able to be grown in association for optimal yield and regeneration of the landscape. The aquaculture developing at Tamera is quite diverse and was a mix of familiar species from Doug’s fish background in North America and the tropics with unfamiliar European specimens. Ducks, geese, and several fish species were introduced during our stay there.
The topic of seed saving is becoming quite a political issue that is of the utmost importance for permaculture and the survival of our traditional hardy varieties of vegetables and herbs. It is a topic that Sepp shed much light on and gives Treeyo a topic to delve further in because of it’s beginning knowledge. The importance of high quality, locally adapted seed became very apparent from the quality of produce we saw at Tamera and in a very fun slideshow that Sepp showed. This high yield, low maintenance produce was often grown in poor soil after earthworks yet manged to serve the site multifunctionally as all post earthworks plantings should do. So a tip from Sepp, find the plant that is preforming the best on the poorest soil and save seed from that.
Overall it gave Doug and Gautier a chance to connect with the European Network of Permaculture and ecovillages as further work in Portugal seems likely. So the connections grow, more symbiosis of interaction as Sepp would say.