Progress and grafting in the coppice

A few years ago we bought a small piece of forest that partially had been clearcut. There already were quite a few chestnut stools (coppiced or cut stumps) that are now growing back and we planted many more little chestnut trees. We took out some good eucalyptus poles to build the first part of the roundwood frame of our house. In the last years we have been working more on this site, clearing more pines and planting more varieties of trees that will coppice (ash, hazel, alder, linden, black locust). This is a very interesting test and learning site for us, where we are aiming to create a diverse, very productive and easy to manage agroforestry system: a diverse mixed coppice which we will cut on a relatively short rotation (it’s easy to handle small poles) with trees for nut and fruit production along the track and paths. 
This spring a good friend of ours, Frank, helped us to graft some of the chestnut trees. The big advantage with grafting material (a small piece of branch called a scion) from well fruiting trees onto already existing tree (called the rootstock), is that once the scion fuses with the rootstock it has all the power of the already established tree with a strong root system to feed it. This makes very quick growth possible and (unless the rootstock has been freshly planted itself) there is little risk for them to dry out during the hot and dry summers. Grafted trees also bear fruit much earlier than non grafted trees, because the material that is fused with the rootstock comes from already mature trees. It is a very quick way to get productive chestnut (or other fruits) trees with good size fruit. And, except for the work it does not cost anything because one does not have to buy trees.
It is very exciting to see how much potential there is for these ancient, low-tech management methods. On the north and east facing slopes in the area there are many little chestnut trees struggling between the young pines. By taking out the pine trees from these sites and grafting onto the existing chestnut trees it would be possible to produce a great deal of food in the most sustainable way in a relatively short time - talk about local resilience and sustainable abundance !   
I cant help but continue to dream how amazing it would be to this more large scale. Let us see what can be done …


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.