We were given a tour of the farm project that based in view of the Serra da Estrela Nature Reserve, below Covilha – a 40 min drive from Mount of Oaks by Alexandre and Francisco – both of whom are part of designing and working on the agricultural and distribution arms of the mulit-dimentional project.
For a while we have been connecting with the Ananda Marga group based in Covilha and Paul. Anada Marga is an interesting global spiritual and social service organization founded in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar). For more information about the organisation check out the information provided by the group here
Our paths have crossed due to our common interest in organic food, boosting the local economy, permaculture in practice and alternative education. What we discovered on our visit was that we also have a strong sense of service and a desire to collaborate together where we can.
The site of the Master Unit is stunning – with a river running at the bottom of the property and above forests, we could see why the community had fallen in love with the place. Even on the cold January day we could imagine people swimming in the river in the summer months.
The structures that the team have put in place at the Master Unit are to serve the farm and the future community who will move to live onsite. They have a large wooden barn and cute camping facillities for when they host their festivals or youth camps. Currently the community live in the nearby village of Paul, and from there host volunteers and many activities from their hub.
Our disscusions included us asking about their experience of gaining subsidies to move their project to the next stage. It was obvious that there had been much investment on the land in the last 3 years, in machines, irrigation systems, soft fruit plantation and hundreds of cherry trees. Their aims of the rural unit is to move forward with their cherries and berries, food forest and the vegetable and herb gardens. We were really impressed by the level of planning that has gone into the project so far – and their plans for the development of the place.
One of their slogans is ‘modelling a sustainable present’ – it seems like they are well on their way!
Like us, they gather around the table as a community for shared meals. Back in their base in Paul we were treated to a YUMMY lunch. Knowing that your food has been prepared with love and that the food is local simply adds to the experience. Rui had also prepared some raw food and a delicious orange and nut cake. Over lunch we shared about Mount of Oaks and learned more about the Ananda Marga organisation.
Alexandre and 2 others had to rush off to Lisboa with a car full of organic produce to sell – it was again inspiring to see how they are taking the dream of connecting the producers with the consumers and making it a reality.
We discovered more about the daily rhythm of the community – they rise early and meditate and then practice yoga before breakfast. We saw the space dedicated to their practice. Dalila shared the story of how she and Rui decided to give up their lives in Lisboa to move to the countryside. In all, we left feeling nourished. Our minds and hearts expanded as we saw the possiblities that a big, well planned project can have on the local economy. These people from Ananda Kalyani are beautiful souls and we are glad to call them friends.
Barbara took part in a pruning course that was organised by the Prana Academy. In a few weeks she will attend another of their courses, this one on organic olives and olive oil. For more information about the project and their events, check out their website