Quinta Vale da Lama, Portugal
Located in the Southwest of the Iberian Peninsula on the Algarve, Quinta Vale da Lama is mitigating the effects of historic land degradation and - more recently - climate change, by restoring the natural water cycle and soil fertility for a healthier farm ecosystem and local community.
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Located in the Southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, the farm borders the Alvor Estuary: a coastal lagoon and estuarine wetland that includes stable and migrating sand dunes with characteristic vegetation, intertidal sand and mudflats, tidal salt marshes, and salt pans. The estuary is an important stopover site for many trans-Saharan migratory bird species. Exploitation of the land during the different metal ages took its toll on the tree cover and consequently on the soil quality. This was followed by overgrazing, leading to further degradation of the soil. Today, the region faces desertification due to climate change, over-extraction of water from the aquifers, and sea level rise. Quinta Vale da Lama is implementing adaptation strategies to prolong the presence of water in the land, slowing down the water cycle, spreading it out, and helping water infiltrate when it falls. Their goal is to capture every drop of water and recycle it within the ecosystem. Quinta Vale da Lama is also experimenting with different harvesting techniques, building healthy living soils, and planting perennial vegetation that collect and store humidity, to increase its availability for plants within the ecosystem. Agroforestry practices have been in place here for millennia on the traditional landscape type called “Barrocal” which is typically clay and limestone.  The tree species are predominantly fig, almond and carob, with a diverse underlying layer of vegetation. Their restoration efforts are collectively helping them achieve their goal of a high-nature value mosaic, that can incorporate biodiversity and a create a healthier farm ecosystem, producing food that enters the local economy through farmer’s markets thereby increasing local food sovereignty.


Impact story

Since 2006, Quinta Vale da Lama and Projecto Novas Descobertas have been passionately committed to the regeneration of the Southwest Algarve, focusing on Regenerative Agriculture, Sustainable Tourism, and Active Learning Communities. From youngsters to elders, thousands of people visit and are inspired each year through the multitude of opportunities given to participate on the land. From Nature Connection Summer Camps to school visits from most schools in the municipality; from Permaculture Design Certificates to immersive internships on the farm; from seasonal Open Days to holidays on the Ecoresort; from a local cooperative FoodHub to selling fruit and vegetables at the local Farmers Markets twice a week; from volunteering on Tuesdays of Regen to working as staff on the farm. For some time already, Quinta Vale da Lama has been dedicated to contributing to regenerative practice’s inclusivity and outreach. Since 2017 – inspired by the work of the Ecosystem Restoration Communities – Quinta Vale da Lama has been running a week-long training called Ecosystem Regeneration Camps, where they share their approach to regenerating the land through multiple strategies. The training has been run eight times to day, reaching over 160 active local earth restorers, that now are part of a Learning Community that keeps in contact, sharing their skills, challenges, and findings. Quinta Vale da Lama aims to increase the collective impact of their actions and be part of a living force that can regenerate their bioregion, creating a healthy and abundant ecosystem for all.


Thousands of trees have been planted, along with and water harvesting structures to support the plantings.  The soil fertility is constantly being improved through nodes of fertility, where indigenous micro-organisms, compost, bokashi, worm castings, mulch, and other soil enhancers are added as needed.  A small soil laboratory on site helps monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of some of their interventions. Furthermore, a small herd of sheep, two donkeys, and a few chickens are rotated on diverse plots, following a holistic planned grazing scheme, and an area with five Mediterranean temporary ponds have been created to help increase biodiversity. Educational and regeneration activities are run for children, youth, and adults, raising awareness and contributing to the overall capacity of the bioregion, while collaboration with other local projects is taking place with the goal of achieving a broader collective impact towards a healthier and more resilient bioregion.


Quinta Vale da Lama partners with Projecto Novas Descobertas, Mud Valley Institute, and Vale da Lama Lda

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Activities that need your support ​

Compost making
Water retention
Tree planting
Food growing
Erosion control
Soil building
Cover cropping

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