Chainsaws and Devotion

Two weekends ago we had a couple of sublime and energetic work days here on the slopes of Mizarela. The frost sparkled and the sun shone as we donned our work clothes and machetes and climbed the slopes.
The hillsides here are covered with dead burnt trees from the October 17 fires. In terms of ecological restoration, the best place for these trees is to be is on the ground; felled, laid on contour and touching the soil where the rainwater can soak into their tissues. When they are wet the fungi can start breaking them down to provide food for all the other micro-organisms and together that exquisite orchestra of tiny, tiny microbial life can turn what to us is dead into vital, living soil.
Laying the trunks on contour means they can trap debris as it washes down the hillsides after the rain, providing more food and shelter for those microorganisms and also larger invertebrates - beetles and bugs - and even vertebrates like snakes and lizards and mice. The trunks also absorb rainwater like sponges holding it in the landscape and allowing it to slowly seep back into the desiccated hillsides.
This is tough, dirty, demanding work. And there is a LOT of it. But it can be fun and rewarding when entered into in the spirit of service and devotion. Which is exactly what happened last weekend when the Awakened Life Project Sangha gave two days to reviving these hillsides. Despite the steep slopes, the trunks that weigh a ton, the noisy chainsaws - everyone was present and energised as they moved, chopped, laughed and cut.
My experience is when I give myself in this way - to a purpose greater than myself - I am given energy and inspiration that I didn’t know was possible. When I am in a group of people doing the same, that energy and inspiration is of another dimension.
There are many many more hillsides of this work to do this year. I am focused on facilitating this work happening so next autumn we can sow more acorns and plant more trees.
Would you like to be involved? If so please sign up to the newsletter on the website and 'like' the Facebook page so you hear of work days and weekends coming up. I also need volunteers skilled in building - carpentry, plastering, plumbing etc - URGENTLY. Please constant me if you have these skills and would like to help - or +351961480954. And if you don’t have time but you do have money - I am very grateful to receive donations - large or small - that will go directly towards supporting this essential ecosystem regeneration work. Contact me at or +35196148095


Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Helping Nature to get back on her feet after years of monoculture and wildfires.
Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Would you like to come and help plant some native forest, learn about ecosystem regeneration and reconnect with Nature and yourself? Then join us on an Awakened Forest Project work weekend.
Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Sunday December 1st 10.30 - 4pm

Another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.


It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.


Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.