Portugal: Putting pigs in the shade: the radical farming system banking on trees

Putting pigs in the shade: the radical farming system banking on trees

A farm in Portugal is showing how the ancient art of silvopasture – combining livestock with productive trees – may offer some real answers to the climate crisis.

Animals are free to roam under the shade of trees and shrubs at a co-operative farm in Portugal.

The land to the north of the village of Foros de Vale Figueira in southern Portugal has been owned and farmed through the centuries by Romans, Moors, Christians, capitalists, far rightists, even the military. It has been part of a private fiefdom, worked by slaves as well as communists.

Now this 100-hectare (247-acre) patch of land just looks exhausted – a great empty grassland without trees, people or animals, wilting under a baking Iberian sun.

But look closely and you can just see the future: tips of thousands of tiny oak and nut trees following the contours and poking through thick mulches of grass and leaves.

“This will be the new montado,” says Alfredo Cunhal, referring to a pre-medieval Portuguese system of farming. He is an agricultural scientist whose great-grandfather cleared the cork and olive trees that were once scattered around, and whose family then overworked the land by dosing it with chemicals and growing monocultures of cereals.

The montado system combines herds of animals with productive trees and shrubs. Cunhal’s vision is to create an oasis-style abundance on land where there is often no rain for nine months of the year and where temperatures can reach 49C (120F

“Imagine tall trees, like 40-metre tall walnuts, putting down leaves, letting light through, drawing up water. Below them, cork oaks giving shade, and a line of citrus and olive trees; and then imagine vines climbing the trees. The fruit and nuts will provide the food for the pigs, chickens, cows and other animals who graze there,” he says.

“Animals are the key,” he says. “They are important for the whole ecosystem, as well as part of the food chain. They must be balanced with the tree system. Pigs provide digestion, and are good for the soil, they disturb the ground and fertilise the land. The natural fertility cycles work better with them. The pig is not a meat machine but a friend of nature.”

The “new montado” at Herdade do Freixo do Meio farm will take years to mature but will repay itself many times over with the variety of food produced and healthier soils, he says. “It offers resilience against fires and global heating and it soaks up the carbon,” he says.

‘The pig is not a meat machine but a friend of nature,’ says Cunhal

“We are aiming to go from zero to abundance in a few years. We can put chickens on the land soon, pigs and sheep will follow, cows come later. We invest now, and the next generation sees the real benefits,” he says.

Cunhal, who comes from a large landowning family related to Portugal’s legendary communist leader Álvaro Cunhal, says he has had to reject much of what he was taught about farming at college.

“I spent five years studying agriculture and I never heard the word ecology. We were taking more and more from the land but we were farming monocultures. We were eating the system. I was managing 7,000 hectares for my family but I never noticed the trees. I really didn’t know anything. I produced a lot but I needed so many inputs. I needed carbon, energy, chemicals. I could do nothing efficiently. The land was eroded, the soil damaged.”

Demoralised, he gave up managing the family estate in 1990, took a share of the land, and started to run 600 hectares on organic, co-operative lines with a collective of 35 people, many of whom had worked on the estate for years. Together, these “partners” are converting the whole farm into a full montado system.

Partners working at Herdade do Freixo do Meio

The results are beginning to show. Wild boar, lynx and deer roam freely, while old varieties of pig, cattle, chickens and turkeys are rotated among the established oak and olive trees and in newly planted orchards. The farm grows almost every type of Mediterranean food among the trees, as well as 40 varieties of fruit and nut.

“We can grow water,” says Cunhal. “By planting trees whose roots go deep we are drawing moisture up and building soils, creating the possibility to grow even more.”

The complexity of the system baffles conventional farmers who mostly specialise in a handful of crops or products. But Cunhal dismisses monocultures as “the end of life” and insists there is resilience and safety in diversity.

The variety of food produced is astonishing. The farm grows dozens of fruit and vegetable crops and makes and sells 600 different products, ranging from eight kinds of oak flours and breads, to meats, wine and olive oils.

“It’s far more than any normal farm would ever consider. This used to be a cork oak farm. Now cork is just 5% of the turnover. Four years ago we were 100% dependent on the open market and wholesalers. Now nearly 50% of what we grow is sold directly to consumers. We have a butchery, bakery, olive oil press, smoker,” he says.

A montado system also demands a new social approach. “It’s not right that a system of farming as complex as this should be run by one person. Far better that a whole community should propose how it works. Eventually we want consumers to be part of the farm, too,” says Cunhal, who says he intends to eventually hand the land over to the co-operative.

“It works because the risks and the benefits are shared. Together we are resilient to shocks. We employ more people. We produce variety. It’s a different approach.”

“It is very exciting. This is the meeting place of trees, crops and animals,” says Ricardo Silva, a trained biologist who switched to forestry before coming to Herdade do Freixo do Meio. “The results are measured not just in profits, but in the social and ecological benefits created. We cannot say exactly, but our hypothesis is that we can double, even treble production without taking away from the land.”

Twenty years ago, an approach like this might have been dismissed as marginal, perhaps as an ecological experiment to be conducted by wealthy landowners. But that idea is changing fast as the needs of the environment are recognised, says Patrick Caron, chair of the UN’s high-level panel of experts on food security and nutrition and a former head of Cirad, the French food research agency.

“We need a transformation of our food systems. It does not involve a return to the way our grandparents farmed – that would be a catastrophe. But we must take stock of the principles of what they were doing, and their knowledge.

“Change is happening. The big companies know it, too. The meat industry used to laugh, but now they are preparing for change. It is possible to move from mass production to quality.”.

“Farmers became fascinated by the baubles of technology in the 1930s. They tried to simplify everything,” says Patrick Worms, senior science policy advisor at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre.

“What Cunhal is doing is the opposite – using more animals, growing more crops, making everything more complex. He is supported by the science, which shows that you get much greater production when you mix things up, and when animals and plants interact.”

Studies from Africa, Brazil, Europe, Sri Lanka and elsewhere all show conclusively that interspersing trees, animals and crops can boost food production, but also build soil, increase biodiversity and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, he says.

“Agro-forestry isn’t a ‘no man’s land’ between forestry and agriculture,” says Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. “We know it can help diversify and sustain food production and provide vital social, economic and environmental benefits for land.”

But even as scientists and policy-makers wake up to the potential of silvopastoralism as both a better way to grow food and as a way to respond to the climate crisis, the speed and the scale of change challenges the farm.

“We are more resistant to climate than our neighbours who farm conventionally, but a 3C rise in temperature here, which is where we are heading, means everything is lost. Higher and more extreme temperatures are a death threat to the animals. The land will go to desert. I am really worried. I have no doubt the climate crisis is happening. I feel it every day … Now we get more irregular summers and temperature increases every year,” says Cunhal.

He is one of eight Europeans trying to sue the EU over its climate change policies, which they argue are inadequate. “We had 49C last year. We are used to 43C. In 2017-18 we had an eight-month drought. Then in mid-December we had 100mm of rain in two hours. I have lived here for 30 years. It’s more unpredictable now; we risk stopping almost all the biological process.”

Barring disaster, Cunhal says he will continue to plant trees and rear animals. “We don’t want a square metre without shade. We must treat the farm as a common good. The satisfaction is in creating something beautiful. I want to leave a landscape where everyone – humans and animals – feel good.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/13/pigs-radical-farming-system-trees-climate-crisis

 

 

… and what system would you prefer ?

σψηςειν ιν Καστεν 3jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Bullfighting: the medieval shame of Spain

How primitive and anti-social can people be in the middle of Europe?

 

Bullfighting is a lucrative business. The arguments “tradition” and “culture” are only an invention of the bull mafia to get appropriate EU subsidies for this murderous spectacle.

 

 

The animal cruelty committed before the fight is kept secret from the public. Animals are tormented with devilish ingenuity.

Animal welfare organizations continue to fight with education campaigns against the martyrdom of the bulls.

Unfortunately, Spain is overwhelmed with its social system and invests in this “tradition” of the primitive, millions instead of investing in the education system.

Furthermore, in the high season and with thunderous applause from the spectators, around 30,000 animals die each year in the arenas.

Almost none of the few brain-sick Europeans who regard this form of sadism as a “culture” and pay to see how a defenseless animal is massacred knows what really happens before the fight.

We will tell them that!

It starts with the days of transporting the bulls to the arena. In narrow containers they are brought on trucks in burning sunshine. Some lose up to 30 kilos and are so weakened that they collapse as soon as they are driven out of the stalls with iron forks.

Then the horns are counted. The animals are clamped in a headgear to saw off the horns, and then they are filed in a natural looking pointed shape.

 

This is for two reasons: first, to weaken the animal by the long-lasting, unbearable pain – inside the horns are as sensitive nerves, as in a tooth – and second, the bull loses the sense of the distance by the reduction and therefore always pushes into the void.

At the same time, the horns are also drilled in several places to the nerve and planted in the holes wood splinters, so that any defensive maneuvers for the bull to hell’s torment.

So that he can not shout of pain, the vocal cord is severed in some battle sites.

For more…at: https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/14/bullfighting-the-medieval-shame-of-spain/

Unfortunately, Spain is a country that has and spends very little money on education. This is also noticeable at every point and also when dealing with animals. The bullfighting is televised and promoted in schools as a cultural heritage to the children.

 

Education and the future of Spanish children is not worth a penny in and for Spain.

Spain is at the top of animal cruelty as an EU country.

With bullfighting, Spain holds a “tradition” that has been proven to originate from Gitanos and was invented during the darkest period of our earth, the same in the time of the Inquisition.

As the Pisa study shows, Spain is at the very back end of education in Europe, as evidenced by the fact that traditions from the Middle Ages are perceived with enthusiasm that only scare and disgust every educated person.

Bull fight and bull festivals violate every ethic of modern civilized countries and societies.

The ridiculous pseudo-arguments of the Taurinos about the “culture” and “tradition” of the bloody spectacle are so stupid, in fact false and hypocritical that they can not convince a single person with intellect and education.

The Spanish Animal Protection Party PACMA is making every effort to abolish this shameful barbarity. So far without much success.

It is still these mentally weak proletarians, these dwarves of morality, the Taurinos, those who pull the land into the dirt all over Europe and lead us to a paraphrase of the well-known saying  of “Isaac Bashevis Singer:

“When it comes to bullfighting, everyone becomes a Franco.”

 

My best regards to all, Venus

 

England: London – An interview with founder of Save the Asian Elephants.

England: London – An interview with founder of Save the Asian Elephants.

 

Read more – web link and additional interview video (well worth watching) at:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/14/england-london-interview-with-founder-of-save-the-asian-elephants-duncan-mcnair/

 

 

USA: Man shoots horse and police officer with semi automatic rifle after a dispute.

USA: Man shoots horse and police officer with semi automatic rifle after a dispute.

SIGN: Justice for Horse Shot with Semiautomatic Rifle

Read more and Demand justice and sign the petition at:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/14/usa-man-shoots-police-officer-and-horse-with-semi-automatic-sign-for-justice/

 

 

Holland: bus stop as bee houses!

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, 316 bus stops have now become an oasis for bees and other pollinators. These bus stops not only look good and help prevent bee mortality, but also provide better air quality in Utrecht.

The fact that something has to be done to tackle pollution in the cities has already arrived in many countries.
Not yet in Germany !!

The bus stops are now covered in sedum plants – succulents that can purify the air – and these attract bees whose populations have declined, as well as butterflies.

The roofs also absorb fine dust and store rainwater.

Sedum plants are robust and winter resistant. This plant is a subspecies of succulents.

Like the succulents, sedum plants can live everywhere due to the very robust construction of the leaves and thus also on roofs.

 

Bee mortality is increasing alarmingly worldwide – and also in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, a Bee Foundation has been set up, which has been working for bees since 2010, protecting them from extinction.

 

The citizens of Utrecht are also invited to turn their own roofs into “green roofs” and they can apply for special subsidies. The city suggests residents replace their worn-out roofs with green roofs instead of having them traditionally renovated.

For more…at: https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/14/holland-bus-stop-as-bee-houses/

 

My comment: A great idea that every city and every country should implement!

Everyone talks about the climate, nobody does anything.

The last media manipulation with the “climate Greta” is known, and except for the tremendous media attention this campaign received, something else did not work.

The Dutch have started to protect the climate in practical areas, and that is effective and useful.

People do not learn from lectures, people learn from examples that come from governments in the form of organized solutions.

We can hope to report from here soon about the green roofs of private houses in Holland.

My best regards to all, Venus

 

USA: States across the US are taking bold steps towards protecting animals.

USA: States across the US are taking bold steps towards protecting animals.

Read the full article at:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/14/states-across-the-u-s-are-taking-bold-steps-toward-protecting-animals/

Thank`s Lacoste!

 

 

We are excited to partner with Lacoste and announce its commitment to a fur-free policy.

The brand’s Global CSR manager said: “Lacoste has decided to ban fur long ago. However, we felt it was important to add our name to the list of fur-free companies to show our support for the cause around the globe.”
#LacosteFurFree

And we mean: For all who say that there is no hope for the abolition of the Fur Farms – we disagree!!!

We will continue to fight for it, and we will fight harder than ever. After all, the animals only have us.

Together, we will push the fur industry and its deadly machinery even further offside!

 

Best regards to all, Venus