Sustainable management of the Montado in Herdade do Freixo do Meio - Biological Production Mode

Place: portugal, Europe
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 450.000,00 | Period: From February 1996 To


Where are produced all products of the mediterranean diet: vineyards, olive groves, vegetables, cereals, wild mushrooms, turkey and black, traditional pigs in the region, lambs, cows.

There are  a meat processing units and plants on biological mode.

He made transformation and own distribution, the products are disposed in our stores, direct sales, increasing accountability and food security.

Partners - singular or legal persons develop complementary to those that are already practiced in farm activities, promoting the optimization of available resources, cooperation and efficiency gains inherent, giving the opportunity to new entrepreneurs who communing its principles , vision and activities wishing to start or develop activities that fall within the spirit of the project, complementing the product offering.


Agricultural Society of Freixo do Meio, Lda - Portugal

Lead applicant

Herdade do Freixo do Meio is a farm in Alentejo, near de village Foros de Vale de Figueira - Montemor-o-Novo, that manages 440 ha of oak and holm-oak plantation, totally converted into the Biological Production Mode since 2001. The Freixo do Meio farm has been developing an activity of promotion of the country life and of the practice of sustainable agriculture, in respect of the existing natural resources and cycles of nature. We produce more than 300 references of seasonal produits in small scale. Indigenous breeds adapted to the environment, climate and outdoor reared under grazing their potential are truly increased. Animals of these breeds when reconciled with this regimen, are much more receptive to feed on what nature provides them, (such as acorn, olives, natural vegetation cover of grassland, the dregs of other cultures) will leave your meat characteristics unique aroma and flavor. The differentiation strategy based on the varieties, breeds, recipes, customs and traditions.

António Maria Ramalho Abel (honey production) - Portugal

Initiative partner

Production and processing of multi floral honey in Freixo do Meio, in a logic of complementarity, important to the mosaic of activities in the montado, making it more complex. Honey produced according to good practice, being a totally natural product.

Pica no Chão (free range eggs and chicken) - Portugal

Initiative partner

The Pica no Chão project was born in 2012 when Tino (Celestino Santos) started the activity of a young farmer for the production of organic chickens and eggs of portuguese native breeds. The ethics of exploration is based on creating good living conditions for the birds, a feed composed with organic cereals adapted to the physiological needs and a movable chicken house system with electric fences (which run on solar energy), that in communion with the outdoors areas and grazing will complement your wellness. Project developped in a logic of complementarity, important to the mosaic of activities in the montado, making it more complex.

Days in the trees (Fruits and Vegetables) - Portugal

Initiative partner

In March 2011 Carlos and Catarina started yours project in Freixo de Cima. They designed a horticulture garden of 2 ha close to their house and in a second area of 10 ha they plant an orchard of 5 ha. For this they get financial support from the government. The biggest challenge for them is to recover the very poor soil. This is possible by applying the permaculture knowledge from books to own ideas to reality. Here grow uncommon vegetables and herbs, lots of varieties with beautiful colors and different flavours. Weekly they feed families with vegetable bags. All kinds of help and volunteering are also very welcome. Project developped in a logic of complementarity, important to the mosaic of activities in the montado, making it more complex.

Montado Agro-Forestry System. Agro-Ecological Complex Farming System. The Montado Agro-Forestry System is a sustainable and multifunctional way of farming management.This agro-forest has a structure of 3 levels (trees, shrubs and pasture/grassland) and has a complex mosaic of different activities running in the same place, like several vegetable crops and livestock production with indigenous breeds, which allows to produce a wide range of healthy food in an organic way.This model has been created and developed by Agricultural Society of Freixo do Meio (social private organization) in a farm with 440 ha located in Alentejo (Portugal) and it's a complete chain, based on 5 main functions: Primary production/Farming; Processing; Wholesaling; Retailsaling; Didactical and Touristic Services.In the same farm, the system is also run by other partners with the same DNA, which increase the functions and the complexity of this model.The result is an integral human community.

The increasing of monoculture and intensification of farming drove to the abandonment of the ancestral Montado Agroecosystem, used in this region for more than 800 years.

This reality led the area to a semi-desert (lack of natural resources) in less than 100 years.The main innovation produced by Agricultural Society of Freixo do Meio is the reimplementation of Montado Agroecosystem, with the whole complexity and management strategies of the old times but with the knowledge, machineries and innovative techniques of this days.

For the development and innovation of the Agro-Forestry System we cooperate with universities and several scientific research has been done.

With our initiative, we've created a management productive model that respects and regenerates the environment and biodiversity of this region while the project generates jobs and teach people how to use natural resources efficiently.

Several inovative Food Products based on the Montado system products was also created.

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Montado system was perfect adapted before 1950's.

The new intensive models of farming used violently the natural reasources and generat unemployment.

The Montado is developed over a physical support that congregates climatic, pedological and geomorphic factors with unique characteristics.

The structure and complexity of the model are an answer to the poor soils and to the hard conditions of Mediterranean climate.

This climate is characterized by hot dry summers and winters that are moist and temperate or cold.Precipitation presents a great variability over the years and within the same year.

It's occurrence condition in a very significant way the crops and the availability of food for the cattle.

Due to the variability of the climate, this complex productive model, with so many and different saleable products, it's a natural way to manage climatic and market risk.

The use of cooperation process between activities and the Eco-functionalities management are the other basis of the system.

Dryland Champions_UNCCD_EN Annex B: "Dryland Champions_UNCCD_EN": Dryland Champions, United Nations Convention Combat Desertification, 2013.
Regresso ao Campo - Freixo do Meio Documentary "Regresso ao Campo - Freixo do Meio" RTP, 2010.
Report SIC - Terra Alerta Report SIC - Terra Alerta, 2009.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf CNCCD Dryland Champions Portugal 2014 Awards Annex B "CNCCD Dryland Champions Portugal 2014 Awards": Dryland Champions, United Nations Convention Combat Desertification, 2013.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Conclusiones jornadasmontado Annex A - "Conclusiones_jornadasmontado": Conclusion of Conference about The Montado, Spain, 2014.
../file-system/small/docx ../file-system/small/docx II EURAFConference-HFM Annex C - "II EURAFConference-HFM": Holistic agroforestry system in practice. Just an idea or is there a living model? European Agroflorestry Conference (Germamny, 2014), where the project implemented in Freixo do Meio as been represented by the coordinator.

More than 300 different food products certified as Organic: beef, pork, lamb, turkey and chicken meat; processed meat products as hamburgers, sausages, ham or smoked chorizo; fresh vegetables and fruits; wine, olive oil and pickles; but also other products like rice, grains, legumes, flour and bran, lard, eggs, pine nuts, mushrooms, berries, constituting as a whole a range of foods based on Mediterranean diet;

  • Loyal costumers satisfied with the products they're buying;
  • Twenty times more jobs than the regional average for farms with the same size;
  • Increase of the organic mater in the soils;
  • Increased biodiversity;
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases emissions;
  • Increased energy efficiency;
  • Diversification of energy sources and use of renewable energy;
  • Worldwide volunteers coming to collaborate with us;
  • Thousands of visitors each year interested in learn more about our productive model;
  • Scientific research.
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Prove Portugal - Alentejo - Herdade do Freixo do Meio Prove Portugal, Alentejo - Herdade do Freixo do Meio, Terra Alerta SIC, television report, 2009.

Main needs:

  • Typology of nutrition: increase of the search for healthy food;
  • High levels of unemployment in the region;
  • The high erosion and the reduction of soil quality and biodiversity caused by the declining of Montado system.

Main beneficiaries:

  • Our consumers - more than 100 families that buy regularly food products in our store;
  • People from the region which has a job in our farm;
  • All the region, which can learn and follow the same model that respects the environment;
  • Our visitors that can learn with us how to produce healthy food in an environmentally friendly way, while they enjoy the beautiful natural landscape.

The activity developed in Freixo do Meio has an impact within the current concept of bioeconomy, leading to sustainable development of agriculture and related industries.

The bioeconomy promotes long-term economic growth and stability, within a system that minimizes environmental impact and ensures food production and social development.

  • 20 permanent workers, distributed in the different sectors, as vegetable and livestock production, meat and vegetable processing, cooking, administrative, sales, etc. Almost all the workers are from the nearest village
  • The manager, Alfredo Cunhal Sendim, that coordinate all the sectors lives in the farm since 1990 (degree in Zootecnical Engineering; Master in cience in agricultural economics, postgraduate in “Agricultural Business Management”)
  • Volunteers coming to collaborate through WWOOF and Workaway programs (+- 6 in permanency)
  • People involved in the independent projects running in the same farm that are our partners; those projects are:
  1. Dias nas Árvores – Fruits and vegetables;
  2. Pica no Chão – Free range eggs and chicken;
  3. António Abel Mel – Honey production;
  4. Versão Alfazema – Aromatic herbs;
  5. Caravana Bazaar – Recyclable textile;
  6. Monte de Paladares – Industrial Kitchen;
  7. David Figueira – Horse and donkey riding.
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../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Information about partners projects .

Main difficulties that we deal with:

  • The actual antropocentrated economic model;
  • Legal aspects related with licences (especially for food processing);
  • Lack of knowledge about the best practices to our reality and difficulties in accessing to it.

How we manage to overcome them:

  • Mainly with cooperation with partners and other entities;
  • Lobbying activities;
  • Cooperation with universities and scientific researchers and spread the information we get, to help other projects.
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  • We are producing energy and using renewable energy sources, increasing self-sustainability and decreasing the inputs.
  • Biodiversity is enhanced by the structure of the Montado Agro-Forestry, with its 3 levels (trees, shrubs and pasture) and a mosaic of environments. The mosaic consists of forested areas, open areas of cereal production, areas of bushes, rock outcrops, water lines and riparian vegetation, vegetable gardens, olives, fruits, vineyards, and others; is the ideal for different species to live on it, making use of the different habitats available. This way we can identify on the farm a vast cast of species in a balanced and full of life ecosystem.
  • We produce, process and sell our food products to their final consumer, completing the lifecycle of those products and saving energy.
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We are using a management model of the Montado that is potentially extrapolable to the entire region.

Five years ago, we started "CRIE Montado”, a network group 12 farmers that share the same vision of Montado, cooperating with each other and establishing collaboration with researchers and Government officials to find solutions and new paths to their renewed approach on farming.

The community, connect with us, buying our products, coming to visit the farm, participating in our workshops, helping us as volunteers, recording what we do to spread it on media, asking us partnerships, etc.is our best rate.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Farmpath crie montado Annex D - "farmpath crie montado" - Transição para a Sustentabilidade Regional da Agricultura: CRIE Montado, Information about the project, farmers, results. Farming Transitions: Pathways towards regional sustainability of agriculture in Europe.
  • The farm is open all the days of the year for all those who wish to visit.
  • We receive students from schools and universities (official learning center of universities like Evora, Caceres, Coimbra, universitat del Gusto/Slowfood,...), foreign tourists, technicians, persons related to associations and companies and others interested in the subject, organizing guided tours.
  • Workshops and Show Coocking sessions in the farm or in our shop.
  • Frequently reported by the media on the farm, the values we advocate, principles and methodologies applied that are performed.
  • The farm welcomes portuguese or foreign students attending internships with us.
  • Often, Alfredo Cunhal Sendim, the project coordinator participates in conferences and debates, in a logic of sharing knowledge and experience and he´s is seen in Portugal as a pioneer and booster.
  • We organize big promotional events in the farm twice a year (Spring and Autumn Meetings).
  • We keep updated a webpage and facebook.
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Participatory workshops in Freixo do Meio Participatory workshops in Freixo do Meio - shepherds dogs, 2013.
Pros e contras Pros e contras - Agricultura Biológica, 2011.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf 8º Spring Meeting 8º Spring Meeting, 2013.