Wellbeing Festival: Kids+Clay, Fermenting Fun!

The bi annual Well Being Festival in Fundao was again held at the Parque de Convento this summer. There were workshops, gong baths, live cooking, stalls and lots of different types of therapies.

Many of our friends from BioEco were present, and Mount of Oaks shared 2 sessions.

In the pictures below you can see that on the Saturday I (emma) had a great time playing with the kids as part of the programme organised by Susana Carvalho. We built with clay and then made crowns from natural materials. It was brilliant to chat with the kids and their parents about how enlivening it is to play with mud, get dirty and be outside!!!


And after making a castle we made the crowns…..

On the Sunday morning Marcia Luz, Jeannette Trevethyen and I ran a fermenting workshop and tasting session. While it started with only a few participants, buy the end we were a big group of food lovers ~many with questions and comments!

Thank you to the team of organisers, in particular Paula Roque, and look forward to an even bigger crowd in 2 years time!!



Essential Oils

Marcia and I paid a visit to a local producer of essentials oils recently. The couple, Marju and Marco run a business called Naturalness Essential Oils.

They live, and have their distillation production right next to the beautiful river Ocreza, just below the Gardunha mountains outside the village of Torre. It took us only about 20mins to get there from Mount of Oaks through beautiful landscape.

Marju showed us inside the old mill where the machines are set up to distill the plants and extract the essential oils. They have been refurbishing the building, step by step, while maintaining the character of the place…..

We were really impressed with the stills and the work that the couple had already done to produce and sell local 100% organic oils!

Since we are in the season of the blooming Rock Rose (Cistus ladaniferus var. maculatus) they will soon begin production again. One of the things we really appreciated was that the couple sought to re-use whatever they could from the plants. Even when they had extracted the essential oil from the rock rose, they used the plant material to burn and heat the distilling chambers! No waste at this farm!

What is amazing about this local business and this couple is their wonderful resilience – the fire that ripped through the Gardunha mountian area in August came extremely close to their home. The organic material that they had been harvesting for production of essential oils burnt in the fire.

From the picture it is difficult to really understand the devastation caused by the fire to the mountain behind. But this family will not be discouraged and soon they will offer a workshop.

Sunday, 29th April, they will be opening for folks interested in learning about the process of distillation of rock rose. It starts at 9am, collecting the plants, and finishes at 1pm.

The places are limited to 10, so drop an email to naturalness.cistus@icloud.com in order to book your spot.

It will cost 20E and you will go home with some essential oil and hydrosol MADE on the DAY!


Autumn Event: Inspired by OLIVES

We woke on the morning of the Autumn Open Event to a most beautiful sky!

Warm open-hearted welcomes as folks arrived…..

A group of over 40 came through out the day – we started with the group who came in the morning to do tours of the land…..

We had a mixed bunch, of people who have visited before, and for others it was their first encounter with the project.

The tours were in English, ‘lead’ by Eric and Emma – and the second in Portuguese with Marcia.

Thanks to the team of angel helpers we had a delicious lunch, with veggies from the garden and inspired by the olive theme and fermented recipies from Dearbhla Reynolds book, ‘Funky Ferments’.

The olive oil tasting was great fun – as we decided upon our favourites…..

Most people had a sure sense of what they ‘didn’t like’. It was amazing that neigbour Nick was ‘spot on’ with his diagnosis!

Then the ‘experts’ gave their feedback…..

We had with us professional organic olive oil producers. Luis Coutinho with his brand ‘Tojeira’ has received much attention for its high quality. Also with us, the engineer Joao Mateus with nearly 20 years experience in working with the Portuguese ministry of agriculture and most recently with Sementes Vivas.

We also had the pleasure of the experience of Miguel Fiadeiro, from the Olive Oil Co-operative in Fundao. Miguel shared and answered questions regarding the differences between the methods of pressing olives, amongst many other things!

Conversations continued about the need for a local organic press, and various solutions were discussed.

After much sharing, we got up and picked olives to demonstrate the method we use for curing our olives. One we learned from our local neighbours over 10 years ago!

As we were harvesting a few olives, out neighbour, Tia Adelina’s son, Antonio came passed – it was his MUM who had such an influence on much of what we know now about olives! It was a lovely moment.

Back in the common space, Marica demonstrated the curing process, and the knowledgeable Sr. Eduardo gave some great and easy tips.

The rest of the afternoon we carried on sharing about olive oil production and best practices while enjoying each other’s company!

We had the delight of having Stefan and Bettina of Sementes Vivas with us. They too have been promoting organic and biodynamic production of olive oil. They shared about an upcoming conference on the theme of ‘New Ruralism’. They are bringing together many of the best-known names in the world of rural development and sustainable construction. The link to the conference can be found by clicking on ‘events’ from here

Thank you to all who came and participated, shared knowledge or bought our olive oil inspired products!

Until next year….!