ReOccupy Portugal

I have seen a possibility and a lot of factors that are working in favor of this possibility, so it has motivated me to start working on my idea. It’s about collaboratively re-occupying and regenerating abandoned rural land, starting here, where I am in Portugal. Since I know of no other cases of this here in Portugal I will be starting with my own land as a lead case study, lead example or pilot project for lack of a better term. I am currently in the process of investigating this further, but let me explain the idea….

The idea is based on identifying large areas of land where ‘rural abandonment’ has occurred and where each of the separate pieces of land within this area can be occupied (via purchase or some kind of exchange agreement) by individuals, partners or groups for the intention and purpose of ‘earth regeneration’. By earth regeneration what I mean is the reforestation / regeneration of land using Permaculture Principles (principles derived from observing nature) to create balanced, diverse and resilient eco-systems capable of supporting productive, sustainable agriculture and, as a consequence, promote a sustainable localised economy for the incumbent and surrounding community.

The idea would be that each piece of land remains autonomous and that the owners / occupiers (I would like to call them ‘Earth Neighbours’ since it is in tune with the idea I’m trying to convey) would be responsible for the regeneration of their own piece of land (and of course, they would be free and encouraged to collaborate with the regeneration of their neighbour’s land also). Each of these pieces of land would then form the greater area; a kind of Permaculture Community Conservation Park. I refer to it as such because it would be my hope that ultimately these areas could be recognised as sanctuaries (protected areas) for wildlife and biodiversity and therefore worthy of conservation (and conversation / dialogue, etc). Of course that responsibility would always lie in the hands of its custodians.

Obviously there are many things to think about. Right now though it is a simple intention and an invitation for any who wish to express their interest in participating in a co-creative experiment (or perhaps create your own?). One in which we can migrate away from, and also to open the possibility for others to migrate away from, the current ‘machine mind’ and ‘centrally controlled’ culture that is going through its disintegration and work towards the possibility of humans of like spirit cooperating and working together towards effectively regenerating Mother Earth back to a state of health, one piece at a time.

So to draw an analogy, imagine a jigsaw puzzle which is the larger area of land (which could potentially become a Permaculture Community Conservation Park) and each of the pieces of individual land within this defined area being the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. We, the ‘Earth Neighbours’, would be helping to put it all together and then eventually connecting with other surrounding communities that would be doing the same thing. (I would like to write more about this greater network but will write something later to express what this would be like in my view, but if you can imagine how the world wide web works — or even better, a mycelium network — then it might give some insight.) We’ve already developed it into the World Wide Web so now we just need to implement it with respects to our communities. This could be a great opportunity to experiment with this. The truth is we don’t have much to lose. We just need to start living it.

How did this idea come to be?

I have purchased a piece of land very close to the Serra da Estrela region in Central Portugal. What once was part of Lusitania (means ‘the land of light’). Also the home of another dying breed, the shepherds of Serra da Estrela). Around me I see a lot of old pasture land that has been abandoned, some of it for a long time. The old folks who used to work the land as conventional farmers have now either retired, left the area or passed on and left the land to heirs who have no interest in farming. Many of the old farmers I have spoken with express sadness in seeing how land has been left abandoned. The piece of land that I have purchased for example, had been abandoned for around 20-25 years. Most of the lands have buildings / ruins on them, some of them closer to a more habitable state than others and many have wells which seem to have plentiful water. The land is rolling hillside and has great views overlooking the Serra da Estrella on one side and expansive views towards the Caramulo Ranges on the other side.

The vision came from an idea passed onto me by my friend Leonardo. I have held this vision, or should I say this vision has held me, for some time and it has not left me, so I must investigate the possibilities. A large part of my motivation for attempting this comes from seeing the deforestation that exists around here as a result of conventional agriculture and fires. I am also motivated by the fact that every day we are deforesting so much of our planet. I want to make a change and know that I can only start where I am now, and that is here.

I see many challenges here also, one of which being the threat of fire, which seems to be getting greater here. Usually they are man made. The one underlying cause that connects all these incidences together is tied to ignorance. I will go no further than explaining it that way in order to keep it short and simple. What I believe is required is that a greater awareness be applied to this issue so that awakening can happen in respects to the value of our environment and the consequences of its mistreatment. What this means to me is that if there are more people in an area who carry a more conscious vision and attitude towards the environment then this will change others in the area also. It is like inspiration. If we are capable of being inspired by others, then surely we are also capable of inspiring others (by following our inspiration).

Let’s take a little break and be served with some inspiration:

What could be?

I see lots of potential here for a regeneration project such as the one I’ve been describing. Although a lot of the land around me has suffered much fire damage and is left abandoned, I have visions of it being converted into a lush forest and believe that with the co-operation of others this can be achieved. Sustainable Agro Forestry that could re-invigorate the area with bio-diverse life and bring with it the opportunity to create a new economy based on local community values is something that I believe is much needed at this present moment in time. It could also serve as an example and opportunity to others in Portugal and internationally who wish to do the same thing.

The first steps….

So, the idea is grand, but it starts with the first step which is what I’m currently working on; to find out who the owners of each of the surrounding properties are and see if they are all open to selling at prices that would be affordable to those who would wish to join this ‘intentional land sharing and reforestation project’. Even if they are not willing to sell then I will investigate other possibilities with regards to agreements that can be made to allow occupation by fellow ‘Earth Neighbours’.

If I see positive signs then I will look at dedicating a web site to the idea and share the information in a more detailed format, as well as to publicise descriptions and photos of the lands that will be available. Then it will be a matter of seeing what interest there is for this and see what kind of individuals and groups it attracts. If the web site is successful then I guess it can also be used to inspire and facilitate other parties who wish to try the same thing in their area.

Is it an idea that will be welcomed by Portugal?

We will soon find out. If more of these intentional projects can arise across Portugal then perhaps we could see the beginning of a much needed revolution? People coming full circle, going back to the land, reforesting and regenerating the earth and bringing with it a new, sustainable economy based on respecting the values of Gaia. Then we can allow the old structures (economic and otherwise) to fall gracefully rather than with panic and confusion. I fear though that there isn’t a lot of time so if you like the idea then I would invite collaboration.

Do you like the idea?

I like the idea and I believe it’s possible. Of course I’m a dreamer, but I’ve already found two pieces of land that I know are for sale at around 25k each. It’s cheap and great for any permaculture warriors that are willing to take on the challenge of reforesting and preserving abandoned land. If you like the idea or are inspired by this vision then I invite you to comment and share whatever ideas you have that could help take this one step closer to becoming a reality.

If you want to contact me directly, you can write to millo.magno (at) gmail.com

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43 thoughts on “ReOccupy Portugal

  1. Fascinating idea. I hope you begin to receive supportive replies soon. I’m moving to Finland soon and would very much like to take advantage of the vacation time to work in the warmer climes during the long dark winter. My ideal lifestyle would be to balance the bulk of my time in Finland with reforestation in the south, which sounds like a fit with your project.

    Good luck to you!

  2. I have been thinking along the same lines. I only wish we could take our retirement money from its current Wall Street manipulated account, without the penalties, and invest it in a land trust that rehabilitates degraded properties via permaculture teams and also builds small ecovillages on some of the lands as retirement communities. Where I would retire.

  3. Olá Millo,

    We’re doing something similar more towards the South. You can reach us at plataformadepermacultura [at] gmail.com. Drop us a line, we have some tools that can help you manifesting your dream more easily.

    Have fun anyway.

    Warm regards,

    Marcos

  4. fabulous idea, please keep me updated, add me to a contact list if possible, my family and i would be really interested to join the community

  5. Hi Millo

    We’re over the boarder in France.

    Do you have any co-ordinates for Google Earth that would allow us to get an aerial survey of the land? What do you get for 25k euro’s?

    Thanks

  6. Watching you from the U.S. in a very inflated real estate market, (not to mention other strange factors) I am intrigued. There is similar need all over Colorado. There are huge areas of brittle prairie that are often managed with little more than fences and cows that lazily overgraze the land. I wondered “why couldn’t people live out on the range and manage herds of herbivores using management-intensive rotational grazing methods to produce healthier land (and animal products)? There is huge potential throughout much of the West.

  7. Olá Milo,

    As Anatole France said “I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom”.
    Portugal as a great potential, older people 40/50/60ties are used to arrange great solutions out off low resources.
    During the last 30 years we (Portuguese people) began to being lazy, so the “crisis” will wake up those who have the skills but did not had the necessity to use it until now.
    You and others can be the wake up bell.

    Probably you already know http://www.PermaculturePortugal.ning.com and http://www.facebook.com/novospovoadores

    Desejo-te óptimo fim de semana.

    Paulo

  8. A great concept. I would like to add that I think it is preferable to pirate/occupy/squat land that has been abandoned for years than to pay for it. Use scarce funds for the needs of the regenerators and the land itself. ‘Owners’ should not be rewarded for neglect although those owners who are unable to tend for the land due to old age or disability could receive a negotiated share deal in return for support. Especially if there is a serious amount of regenerators it is time to play ‘hard ball’. In those cases that the authorities want to evict a piece of land farms that are legally owned should act as temporary safe havens. Police can only play cat and mouse for so long, owners in the cities can only send the police and lawyers. The earth is ours, take it back and bring it back to life. Occupying abandoned Portugal is a good start.

  9. Inspiring, Milo. Thankyou for giving a good idea some fresh water so it can put down roots, grow strong and bear fruit.
    We’re neighbours in the more mountainous Beira region, living the dream, loving and bringing back the life and beauty our ancestors have worked so hard to manifest with a wisdom born of generations of living with the land.
    We’re part of a loose organic growing community. Feel the dots are joining up.
    Grateful.

  10. Yep, sounds a plan to me. Beautiful, inspiring.
    Hope some day I can do the same in my country, and i will.
    a big hug from a chilean from India.

  11. Hi <3 loved your dream, your life project. I'm dreaming and cooking my own project, quite similar, near Castelo Branco.
    Abandone small farm with loads of resorces and potencialities. Plus i'm doing a course on the transition to permaculture and another to learn how to grow mushrooms. Can wait to put my hands on the soil <3

    What's the possibility for some voluntary work with you?
    good luck, and for sure we'll keep in teach.
    catarina

  12. There are some online sevices provided on the homepage of your camara municipal, where you can see the limitations of your surrounding properties and the registered numbers of each plot of land, which makes it more easy to find the owner of the piece of land next to yours. And of course to get an overview of the region with information about waterlines, altitudes, contour lines etc. It looks for example like this: http://websig.cm-chamusca.pt/index.php?module=pdm .
    Maybe you will find this for your region as well.
    And i have seen already rural plots of land (1h and above) for 5k, so for everybody interested in aquiring land here, you have fair chances to do so.
    Good Luck and hope to hear some news!

  13. Hi Milo how you doing?
    Nice to know that a concept talked before as such a good suport. couldnt be other way no. The concept its quite simple, and like said by others that occupy of the land can be donne with common agreement by owners specialy those who need suport. People take care of the land in exchange people take care of those who need by old age or sickness. Nicely donne interdependness mode running. Interconect people with the land by permaculture to revive the earth and biodinamic agriculture to make it florish. I know that every portuguese national is entitled to a piece of land. its part of the constituition that says that the state have to provide shelter, food, and health or means to do so. I think it his in most of constitutions no. We dont want to be owners of nothing we dont believe in owing a piece of the planet earth. That its just unreal not natural! So by not wanting to be owners of nothing, just to making usufruct of the land the threat to those who own the land will be a lot less nearly none. The ideia its treat the land and live on it for a long time, or if when they decide to sell it nfortunaly we have to vacate it. So by doing that in abandoned areas without plans for 20 or 30 or more years we garantie a safe place for many many years to live and work on it. I am sure this concept works in every country no, eventualy they forget about the land and who knows…
    Nice one Milo
    Speak soon:)

  14. Amazing project!!! Right Now I am joining another Big Humanitarian project but I will be with you energetically to see Portugal’s (the land where I chose to born in this life) Rebirth to a New Time of Love and respect for our Mother Earth! Dolphins Love

  15. Hi Everyone, Sorry for the late reply. Busy busy busy …

    @Yinka Lawal: Hi Yinka. You are welcome any time. My email is at the bottom of the article so feel free to get in touch.

    @Joshua Finch: Hi Josh. I’ve been to Finland. They have lovely forests, full of wild berries, and so much litoral zones. Are you Finish? Your idea sounds good so get in touch. Email at bottom of article.

    @Patrick Price: Hi Patrick. If I were you I would not worry about the penalties. If I had liquid fiat right now I would invest in something that can preserve your hard earned wealth. If you’re not ready to buy land then perhaps invest it in silver or gold. There is a guy on Youtube doing excellent reporting on what’s happening with the financial system and how to protect yourself. Look up ‘SGTReport’. Hope that’s helpful for you.

    @Marcos – Plataforma de Permacultura: Thanks Marcos. I’ve sent you an email.

    @Nayana: Hi Nayana. Thanks for the kind words. I’m speaking with other people in the area also that have a piece of land surrounded by abandoned lots and I would like to create a web site where it can link people to these projects. Can you email me on the email address provided above and I can then get your email address and put it onto a list? Thanks.

    @PeterFD: Hi Peter. Here are the Google coordinates: http://g.co/maps/hvga5. Keep in mind that you don’t have to join my project. Hopefully many more people will be doing the same soon, but in this area there is LOTS of rural abandonment and a perfect place to ReOccupy and Regenerate. I think in this area here you can get about 3ha for roughly around 20-25k.

    @Paulo Silva de Pombal: Hi Paulo. Yes, true what you say. Wake up call is coming and those who already see the signs should prepare the ground for the seeds that will come our way. I don’t know if I will be wake up call but I hope to facilitate some connection to the land so that when people are ready and willing (with all their heart) then the opportunity will be there for them and they can start a little more easily. Can only try. I didn’t know about ‘novospovoadores’. Thanks.

    @Leen: Thanks Kind Lady :-)

    @Douglas: I agree 100%. Especially now that I’ve had fire through my place I can see that it is VERY NECESSARY that we have vigilant custodians that CARE! And you’re right, some of these land owners hold on to the land and either don’t want to sell it or just ask for silly sums. I hope that this will not happen around here where I am but I am doing my best to explain to them what the project is about. I sometimes get the feeling though that they don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

    @Clio: Thank you! Nice words. When all the dots join up we see a beautiful picture, and then there is the coloring in :-)

    @Catarina: Hi Catarina. Sure, voluntary work would be great. I was quite focused on getting accommodation set up so that I could get people around to start getting involved but I had to switch my attention to planting. It’s slow going at the moment. So much to do, but I’d feel more comfortable if I could offer you decent accommodation rather than ask you to live in a tent. Why don’t you email me and we can stay in touch and work something out as we go? Email is posted above at bottom of article.

    @Julian: Fellow inspirer! Thanks! Of course you are welcome any time. I’m sure you would offer much guidance with your experience :-)

    @Maxi Mestre: Thanks for the link. So this is just for the Municipio de Chamusca. I’d like to find something for my zone too but I haven’t found anything yet. Going to Financas today to see if I can find out more anyway. Thanks again.

    @Patricia Graça: Thanks Patricia. Where are you now? Good Luck with the project. Love and Respect!

  16. Hi again Millo,
    Many thanks for the information. Prices seem very high in Portugal compared to France, however, here the price of agricultural land is controlled by the government. I suppose if you purchase many hectares together then the price of each individual hectare will fall. Some years ago I contacted the Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina USA. They’re one of the most successful permaculture communities in the world. Earthaven was started by a group of like-minded individuals who pooled their resources to buy sufficient land to support the community. Interestingly, no individual owns land but is given a lease for the land they work and to build their house on. This prevents property speculators buying-up land when people wish to leave and ensures that only like-minded individuals can install on available land. The technicalities of how a community can install together and the safeguards needed makes interesting reading. You can check-out earthaven at http://www.earthaven.org. I regret my initial request for co-ordinates for an arial survey of the land and the prices asked, may have been interpreted as over pragmatic. However, having installed my family on a goat farm in the French Alpes some ten years ago, I like to think I’ve learned a few things. Currently, the local Chamber of Agriculture refers to my farm as an Ecological Exploitation, the only one in my department, which I take as a compliment.
    May I say that I admire what you’re trying to achieve and I hope that you both realise your dream and hold on to it!
    Best wishes, Peter

  17. Hi, i got this contact through a friend, looking for good healthy community to visit, i´m travelling with my campervan from Amsterdam since half december, now staying near Lisbon. Can you tell me if i can come visit, and where to find you. I looked up Serra da Estrella, is close to Coimbra isn´t it? Thanks, Eddy

  18. Hi PeterFD. Yeah I like the sound and look of Earthaven. I was in Australia while doing my PDC and it was interesting visiting the different eco villages in the Northern Rivers area (more than 40 of them within a 50km radius). There are definitely lots of things to think about regarding protocols, and trying to avoid future speculation on the land is one of them (however if owners spend time and energy developing their land this does add value to it). I didn’t realise that it was cheaper in France. I had the impression that one of the cheapest places for land in Western Europe was Portugal. I really don’t like the government getting involved in price fixing, but I reckon that something should be done here to encourage land owners to sell their land of cheap if it’s abandoned. Thanks for your support. Take care and all the best. Millo

  19. Hi, I got a reply from Millo Magnocavallo to send an email to the bottomlink of the article, maybe is misunderstoud and unsubscribed instead! hope this reaches you and i get the directions to the portugal location, thanks! Eddy, [email protected]

  20. Great idea Milo! We’ve sent you an email and hope to hear from you soon. Good luck and keep us posted,
    SijmeNoya

  21. hello me and my friends are looking for what u have already created when can we start we have some money and a lot of energy and experiance between us let us know and we will come
    love and light
    sumeru

  22. Hi Sumeru, Well, I (we) have started but still starting as well. It’s all relative. What’s important is finding the right people for this land. I am not the one to decide really if this land is for you. You would be welcome to come and stay here on my land here while you look around at adjoining lands and see possibilities. Email me at millo [dot] magno [at] gmail [dot] com.

  23. Milo, while great for some younger people this may be only a dream for us older folk.
    Can you please offer some insight into the Climate, Rainfall and Soil type in that area?

  24. @Jack, Hi Jack. Temperate, warm temperate if you compare with northern Europe. In our area a mix of oceanic and continental influences depending on prevailing winds with a touch of mediterranean. Rainfall is 600-900 mm most of it between October and the end of May with an ever more accentuated drought period occurring now of at least 3 – 4 months between mid June to end of September, lately even more. Soil sandy, sandy-loamy, often thin, fast drying, over granite and low PH.

  25. Ola Millo… great to see so much support here for your concept and I love it. would love to be there and get involved after one last trip back to Brasil (this summer) where things are moving fast… projects building momentum. i just spent last week with a portuguese friend who is ReOccupying land near Lisbon (will get the local area name for you) and has been creating a community of yurts. her group has been there over 4 years and like the land reform in Brasil after 5 years they can ReClaim it as theirs. She inspired me, as others have, and told me that i should get myself to portugal asap. So, dear friend, keep me posted and we shall do something soon ok. if not 2012, then soon after… cuidate !

  26. Ola Julia. A heart felt thanks for your support. Would be great if you could pass on any information regarding your friend. I would be interested to speak with her regarding this. Soon I will have more people here wanting to participate here and with some of the land having been abandoned and forgotten so long it is quite difficult to find the owners. I’ve found out also that here there is a process called something like ‘campeo’ which is about claiming abandoned land as your own, but not sure it requires occupying it for 5 years. In either case there seems to be good possibilities here for open minded and heart strong people. Email me and stay in touch! Good luck in Brasil.

  27. Hi Millo,

    Have you considered ‘Crowd sourcing’ to generate funds for your project?

    Just a Thought.

    I am new to the possibilities and wonders of permaculture and sustainable/progressive ways of living, but am keen to learn. I am soon off to South America to develop my knowledge of these areas and alas have no money to invest in your project but it would be great to see how you progress.

    Do you have a facebook page?

    Good Luck

    Chris

  28. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comments. I put a proposal together for a crowd funding web site. I submitted the project but turns out that I have to break up the costs into smaller ‘needs’. This will require more thought/work for me and right now I’m so innundated with things that need doing here during the hot summer.

    Thanks for reminding me about the Facebook page. Of course this is something that I must do. Will let you know when I get something up!

    Millo

  29. Ola Millo,
    I’m delighted to see all this interest and involvement.
    I’m about to buy three acres of rural land near Carvoeiro in Pracana Cimeira, for me and my wife Alexandra, because we foresee a grim future for people living in urban areas.
    I’m running a small aquaponic system in Northern Italy since 2009, and I’m dreaming about integrating it in a permacultural project.
    I’m currently studying on Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, great source of knowledge IMHO, and impatient to translate notions in action.
    Just to let you know I’m out there…
    Best wishes to you and all the readers.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Marko,
      Yes, I agree. It could get quite grim in urban areas but yet I also see so much potential there, if people could work together the right way to transform the local systems. Let’s face it though, the biggest problem is that most people don’t move to the urban jungle to become more sustainable. It’s usually financial reasons (chosen or forced), and that’s what I find sad, that there is more emphasis and value given to money and ‘economic growth’ (whatever that means) than there is to implementing systems and growing the kinds of things that will feed the children of tomorrow.
      So are you moving to Portugal permanently? I’m currently in Australia, but I will be back in a couple of months and will be down that way, near Serta, to pick up Jobi and Willi, my dogs. I have a friend who has a project very close to you. Email me and get in touch when you’re here. Hope you get the aquaponic system set up over here, I’d love to see it.
      Good luck!

  30. What an inspiration, its actually so true, when we believe in our dreams, we act from this, and this will transform our reality.

  31. Hej Millo, my friend which is interested in permaculture showed me today your webside…so I believe, the spirits are with us : )
    Are you still in Australia or back in Portugal?
    Would be great to hear from you…
    Big hug XXX Anja

  32. Hi Ladies and Gentleman.
    Ill probably visit Portugal end of this year 2017, im looking for cheap good land and Portugal looks the best.
    Ive got 20 plus years of commercial agricultural experiance in South Africa.
    I would like to contribute to this project in the area where i buy.
    Kind regards.
    Ronsard Moolman, check me on facebook

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