Welcome to this first iteration of the ReFarmer.Net website -at this point a farm-diary in the form of a simple blog, but soon to develop into a network resource for all those interested in Regenerative Agriculture, Permaculture, AgroForestry, AgroEcology and Holistic Management.
I’m Walt, 1⁄2 of the husband/wife team that owns Quinta do Vale da Lama, a 43ha (100 acre) farm at the eastern end of Lagos municipality, Algarve province of Portugal. You can see the farm and read all about it on the website; essentially, it’s an agroTourism project -small’a’ big ’T’ right now- but rapidly growing into an Agriculture that is viable in its own right… REGENERATIVE even, i should say.
Though “i am but a simple farmer” (my standard disclaimer when it comes to things i don’t understand :-), i am trying to bring a more scientific approach to bear on the challenges that we face -most significant of which is the problem of desertification, which threatens the natural resource base on which our agriculture depends. This is not just a local problem, but as in other regions with similar climate (i.e. Hot Summer Mediterranean: also common to parts of Australia, California, South Africa, and other mid-latitude places on a west-facing coast), we see wildfires in the region every summer… Including a big one on Monchique mountain (headland of our watershed) this past summer.
For this reason, we have joined the GROW Observatory, an EU-level project that joins farms all around Europe in a Citizens Observatory that uses remote sensing technology to monitor SSM (Surface Soil Moisture) along with other factors (temperature, light, fertility, etc.) related to both Global Climate Change, and agricultural productivity down here on the ground. It’s early days in this project, but already we have a lot of sensors deployed, and a lot of data coming in… Which i’m only just beginning to understand -with a little help from my friends!
Of course we’re all busy GROWers, fundamentally (that dream of “a Reforma Agraria” -cute little double-entendre in Portuguese, half of which (the part about farm-based retirement) is really quite a joke), so it’s hard to find the time for online research and networking and information sharing. So this site was born of the need i have, shared by many of my colleagues, to share information about this project and our findings and everything else that might be useful to someone else -including our “future selves,” as Yihui (see below) so nicely puts it.
About the technology:
Thanks, Yihui, for these excellent tools -so well documented, including explanatory video, without which i could never have done it. Bem Haja, meu!