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Portugal

A conversation in the countryside

The hands of the clock have not yet reached five o’clock on this beautiful summer day that is slowly awakening from its slumber. The information arrives. I am going to meet with a group of citizens who have decided to put an end to monocultures. So, I get out of bed at four in the morning and get dressed. I arrive at a crossroads in no man’s land. I had parked my car in a safe place some time before, and so I walked the rest of the way. At some point, I turned off the tarmac road onto a …

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Nº 73 – An Alsatian Pizza

Saturday the 6 th February 2021 One of our family’s favourite recipes is “flammkuchen”, or “tarte flambé”, as it is often called, since it is a typical speciality from the south-east of France. There are a thousand and one varieties of this dish to be found in Lorraine, but also in Alsace, Switzerland and the German State of Saarland, and, as it can easily be made without either meat or fish, it’s a great choice for a vegetarian meal. We sometimes opt for a vegan version, but we love it in all its varieties, and, in today’s recipe, we are …

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It’s difficult to know where I feel at home

Lourdes Picareta | Film-maker Lourdes Picareta was born 58 years ago in Santa Iría, in the heart of the Alentejo. She completed her schooling in Almada. She speaks Portuguese, German, French, Spanish, English and Greek. Two years after the 25 April Revolution, she moved to Germany to study history, art and German philology in Mainz and Munich. Afterwards, she started to become interested in journalism and joined German television, where she still works for several broadcasting institutions at the ARD. Every year, she makes three or four long documentary films, many of which are also broadcast by the French-German channel …

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Do you know how
Intelligent Trees
communicate with humans?

Dr Suzanne Simard is a professor of forest ecology teaching at the University of British Columbia in Canada whose work focuses on how trees communicate with other trees. The passionate educator and TedTalk speaker was given an exclusive platform in the film “Intelligent Trees” to tell the most interesting eco story of the year. Dr Simard used radioactive carbon to measure the flow and sharing of carbon between individual trees and species. She discovered that birch and Douglas fir share carbon. Birch trees receive extra carbon from Douglas firs when the birch trees lose their leaves, and birch trees supply …

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Keep close to Nature’s heart…

Permaculture addresses our needs for food, healthcare, shelter, education and security. The massive degradation of conventional agriculture and the environmental havoc it creates has never been so all-pervasive in terms of scale, so it has become a global necessity to further the understanding of a comprehensive design and planning system, such as permaculture, that works with nature, not against it. The guild concept that is often used is that of a “functional relationship” between plants – beneficial groups of plants that share functions in order to bring health and stability to a plant regime and create an abundant yield for …

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Was the Forest the Bank of Nature?

We invited teacher and artist Ana Nunes (67 years old) for a conversation. She tells us: I’m from Monchique. I didn’t live here for many years, but I still have memories of what I learned from my family. ECO123 asks her about her memories of when the forest was managed in a sustainable way, before it was turned solely into a eucalyptus plantation.   The forest isn’t a sausage factory, is it? Um, um (She agrees). We need the forest to protect and save humanity, although people have always seen it as a source of income. Income, investment, profit. This …

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Dumpster Diving

Where? Lisbon, 7pm. Pling! A WhatsApp message: ‘You’re coming shopping tonight?’ ‘Shopping’ is code here for the ‘respiga’, Dumpster Diving. Wikipedia has it nailed down: ‘Dumpster diving (also ‘skipping’) is salvaging unused items discarded by their owners… from… waste containers.’ So, what does this look like in real life? At 8pm, we are waiting, with backpacks, head torch and rubber gloves at the ready, opposite our trusted organic supermarket. Half an hour later, we hear the comforting rumble of the wheelie bins, then wait till they are all lined up and the security guards are on their way. ‘Boa noite, …

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Is Eucalyptus Invasive?

Not everyone places economic growth at number one on their aspirational wish list. The area behind A’s house marks the beginning of a forest. If truth be told, A is living with B, his wife, inside the forest. On his plot of land, measuring one hectare, you’ll find over 500 trees of all kinds: umbrella pines, cork oaks, strawberry trees, willows, alders and ash, bay trees, birches and beeches, olive trees, cedars, chestnuts, and all kinds of fruit trees. Every tree, he says, has its own place, its own home. To him, the forest is the last paradise remaining to …

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Zero waste

INTERVIEW with Paula Policarpo, the president of Zero Desperdício (www.zerodesperdicio.pt), The Zero Waste project won first prize at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2020, in the category ‘Support to ecological market development and resources efficiency’. How do you see Portugal in the context of food waste in Europe? It’s estimated that every year about a million tons of food are thrown away. That is equivalent to wasting 50,000 meals a day, enough to cover the needs of the 360,000 Portuguese finding themselves in a situation of food poverty. I think that the biggest problem in Portugal is the lack of …

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A life of milk and honey

Forest gardening is the first sustainable form of multicultural agroforestry management in the history of humankind. Since prehistoric times, a form of forest gardening has been practised in the tropics (Mesopotamia), with forest cultures creating small clearings in order to replace the plant species that would provide the food, fibre and medicines for their communities.   Coming back to modern times, in the 1980s, an English horticulturalist, Robert Hart, adapted the age-old agroforestry techniques applied in a temperate climate and created the first temperate forest garden on 500 square metres of his farm in Shropshire, 120 km south of Liverpool. …

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