On Sunday, we took part in a joint activity with the local village council and a new association we are members of called BioEco (Association of Organic and AgroEcological Agriculture). The idea was to make a call to action and invite people to help regenerate a section of the mountain affected by the fire last summer.
February 18th was the chosen date and we all met at the Tourism Point in the center of Alpedrinha at about 10am. We were a group of about 20 people and several children. Our ages ranged from 21 months to 83 years!!! We were a mixture of Portuguese and a diverse group of those who have made this region our home – ranging from eastern Europe and Israel, to France, America and Scotland.
We pilled into a couple of vehicles and followed the major, Carlos who was driving the tractor that was carrying the seeds. We drove out of the village and up as far as we could into the mountain……
The Junta de Freguesia of Alpedrinha provided seeds of forage grasses, of fast installation and high production, to cover the soil devastated already next spring.
We had literally begun our walk from the parking place to the point where the major would distribute the seeds, when we saw a farmer and his goat herd. This was a significant reminder of why we were preforming this action – the animals that inhabit these lands need food!
Carlos had explained to the group that the rabbits, wild boar, sheep and goats that normally feed in the mountain are having a tough time, especially as there has been a scarcity of rain thus far this winter.
Carlo and Annabella distributed the seeds….
…so we all had a bucket or a bag full of grass and grain seeds….
We got a quick description of the area that we wanted to cover. This was all land commonly owned by the village, and used by local shepherds in the summer months. After which we began to scramble all over the mountain to spread the seeds…..
Can you see the seeds flying from Marcia’s hand?
Everywhere signs of the burnt trees, black charcoal…….
…..and yet signs of hope spring up from badly burnt trees…..
The scale of the fires can be seen clearly from below, but when actually in the mountain, you can feel the the post-fire scars.
Yes, there is vegetation thankfully growing back – we were amazed to see and taste some of the edible wild plants, such as wild brassicas and sorrels. But nothing like at the rate needed to support the life up there.
We had a lot of fun as well as enjoying the views and spreading the seeds!
For the younger members of the team it was a real educational opportunity. Seeing the burnt carcass of an edible chestnut tree with a breadth as wide as my arm span shocked this little man. His dad was explaining that it was hundreds of years old left him quieter than usual.
Thank you to the village of Alpedrinha for providing the seed and the support. And thanks to from BioEco for sharing the idea – may we see more such civil society actions to protect and restore the local biodiversity of this region.
Now all we need to hope for it RAIN – it has been a very dry winter so far!