Sustainable food production’: We are aiming to be as self-sufficient as possible; we grow all our produce organically and make use of permaculture, biodynamics, and companion planting; we aim for natural balance and have a wholistic approach to growing our own food – it’s just one part of the complex and diverse eco-system that is our quinta and the countryside (and world) around it.As well as the usual crops, we plant old (heirloom) varieties and save our own seed for planting the next season. We’re keen on trying new varieties and things we’ve never tried before – last year we successfully grew scorzonera, orange banana tomatoes, quilquiña, amaranth, jerusulem artichokes, and salsify.
We have also been able to start supplying some of our friends with surplus produce as organic veggie boxes and hope to expand this year – all part of becoming self-sufficient financially as well as in the resources we use.
organic veggie box
We have just (March 2006) harvested the first of the asparagus which we grew from seed. Perennials such as this play an important role in the gardens. Others include currant bushes, strawberries, raspberries, and many of the salad and other crops that self-seed or grow as ‘weeds’, and wild blackberries can be picked aplenty!
We have many fruit trees on the quinta, some that were already here and some we have planted – fig, orange, tangerine, cherry, peach, pear, apple, plum, quince, nectarine, pomegranate, loquat, madronha (strawberry tree), & sharon fruit.
We have two pine-nut trees and have planted a hazel (only one so far as we’re not sure how well it will cope with the summer heat). We also planted walnut and chestnut but they didn’t survive the dry summer of 2005 – we’ll try again this autumn.
Along with food crops we also have pine, eucalyptus, and mimosa trees for firewood & construction; comfrey for compost & liquid plant feed; maize & greens for the chickens; medicinal plants; and flowers for beauty and pleasure.
We harvest olives from our 60+ trees and take them to the local mill to be cold-pressed into the most wonderful olive oil (nothing like what you buy in the shops) and make our own wine and grape juice from the 200+ vines that edge the terraces on our land.
Waste also plays its part in the system – for example, we compost vegetable matter and ‘humanure’, mulch with straw and woodland scrub from summer cleaning, and saved and salvaged cardboard boxes keep unused beds weed-free for the next growing season.