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Following their

discovery of an
abandoned village
in south Portugal,
Jonathan Evelight
and friends report
on their plans to
create an eco-village
community, and
also share their
experience of a
nearby established

In Portugal
Rui Vasco

he goal of human society Above: dependent on, the old structure our friend, Alycone, move to
must intrinsically be its Respecting – it is not in our interest to do so. a remote part of Portugal we
sustainability. For me natural Society’s values were founded jumped at the chance. This
this implies a holistic society – community, on competition but it is evident story is a glimpse of how two
currently though, it is anything Tamera. that the Earth’s future, and our’s quite different pieces of the
but sustainable or holistic. on it, depends on co-operation same jigsaw puzzle are leading
I feel we’ve got stuck in a rigid to restore the natural balance. to a new future.
parental mind set where anyone We therefore need new
who dares to imagine they can approaches to how we live TOTTENIQUE
change the way things are, albeit together in the community, to – A LOST VALLEY
for the better, faces a barrage of create an experimental bridge In south west Portugal, not far
refusals and objections. So often between old and new civilis- from the wild west coast, there
laws (planning or otherwise) ation. This is a bridge founded exists a beautiful and tranquil
Jonathan Evelight

stifle new design and creative on trust, by which both the valley abundant with wildlife,
energy, but it is nature that when Earth and her children can indigenous trees and plants, rare
a new baby is about to be born flourish and be cared for. butterflies and clear springs.
the waters have to break. We A walk in So when Jenny, Chris and But as we walk down into this
can no longer be attached to, or Tottenique. myself were asked to help overgrown, well watered and

42 Permaculture Magazine No. 34 www.permaculture.co.uk

fertile valley, we come upon The rest of the land remains

Jonathan Evelight
rammed earth dwellings and wild, in the capable hands of
other buildings – most in ruins, Mother Nature.
nature melting them back into The valley is fertile and
the ground. A village in the unpolluted, which is not the
middle of Europe all but deserted case everywhere; Portugal is
by its indigenous people – gone in danger of becoming a desert
to the cities, as they have done – it has not escaped the peril
the world over. It is clear from a of modern monoculture which
photo album from the ’70s that strips away the natural trees
Alycone and Chris found that and bushes that have protected
some 300 people used to live here. soil and wildlife.
Now perhaps only 30 remain. In the valley, though, wildlife
Tottenique is like a lost valley from abounds. Wild boar, deer, Above: buildings to provide accom-
a distant land, but it’s actually mongoose, badger and fox are Rebuilding at modation for those wishing to
only 25 miles inland from the just a few of the inhabitants Tottenique. study permaculture design and
Algarve in the less well known – together with butterflies as big forest gardening or to simply
Alentejo, the country’s richest as your hand and a multitude retreat into a beautiful land-
source of grains and produce. of birds, including nightingales scape. Yoga, meditation, horse
It is here in this otherwise – which flourish in this unique riding, swimming and wildlife
idyllic spot that we are helping and beautiful landscape. We walks will also be on offer in
Alycone set up her new home. have dedicated the land as a due course.
In just two weeks we clear away ‘World Peace Garden’ At present we are in the
brambles, recover the natural and hope to deter process of buying more land
water supply, install solar indiscriminate in the valley in order to protect
powered lighting, get to know hunting here. it and its creatures from being
a little of the local countryside taken over by monocultures,
and make friends with its CHILDREN IN such as eucalyptus plantations,
people and nature. As we clear PARADISE which destroy these delicate
the land, its value emerges. The permaculture ecosystems and turn the land into
Amongst the brambles which designers in our Jonathan Evelight a desert. Volunteers are being
had run rampant for seven group are like children in sought to assist with the project,
years, overgrown orchards paradise. There is much space in return for bed and board on
emerge with terraces of mature to grow food. Delicious oranges a short term basis. Conditions
trees including orange, olive, are already abundant and cork will be very primitive to begin
pear, apple, fig, nespera, lemon oaks can also provide a small but Below: with and only permaculture
and peach. Vegetable gardens useful cash crop. Developing gardening and building skills are
which were once deliberately Using traditional materials permaculture being sought at the moment.
protected by briar hedges lie and the greenest technology, gardens at You can build on the land with
close to springs and the river. we intend to restore the existing Tottenique. far greater flexibility than in coun-
tries like Britain. Whilst others
are recovering the old rammed
earth dwelling, Jenny and I are
going to build a Swedish eco-
timber house and later a round
turf roof earth house.
The Swedish method is easy,
environmentally friendly and
makes energy-efficient, tough
and attractive homes. They are
also low-cost and, at £30,000 or
so, I consider them better value
than even Walter Segal self-build
houses. They are quick to build
to a standard design (or they can
be modified to your own needs)
with everything included – even
the kitchen sink. We plan to live
Jonathan Evelight

in it while building the round

house and then it’s there for
children and guests.

www.permaculture.co.uk No. 34 Permaculture Magazine 43

culture amidst do in so many fields. Mulching
the eroded with organic materials, even
landscape that large timber – a technique bor-
urgently needs rowed from Brazil – creates
reforestation new soil. Beans, legumes and
across Portugal. vegetables are sown directly
Founded five into the earth. As an experiment
years ago by to show the increasing fertility
six people from of the soil, a sapling has been
Germany who left to grow seven metres in as
had previously many months.
extensively Now in construction is
researched Tamera’s own Peace Garden
holistic com- that shows how people can

Rui Vasco
munity and co-operate in harmony with
natural ecology, nature. It is considered normal
Tamera now here to go beyond the concept
TAMERA ECO-COMMUNITY All photos on has 70 people living there, some of companion planting to
During our time in Portugal we these facing resident in dwellings, tipis or commune intuitively with the
also had a unique opportunity pages are from mobile homes. The children landscape, trees, plants and
to visit and experience Tamera, Tamera. have their own accommodation, animals. What kind of plants
an established eco-village. a haven all by itself. want to grow here? What skills
We rose with the sun dis- Above: used in the
solving a thick blanket of mist A gathering. landscape in
rising from the lake surround- older times are
ing the little peninsula of white Right: still appropri-
dwellings where we have rented Artistic ate? Non-
a small cottage. We found our inspiration in aggressive trust
way by road to arrive later than the lakeside building seems
intended at Tamera, where the studio. to really work,
community is holding an open but your own
day, to join 60 or more people Below right: associated
already at a gathering. Instantly Workshop feelings have

Rui Vasco
I am listening intently to a talk in progress. first to be
about the bio-energy and deep Relaxation is changed to
ecology of these people as they encouraged! Permaculture principles are learn this way.
interact fully with nature ‘with evident everywhere, not just The vision and impres-
no enemies’. It’s in German but Below left: in growing food, but as people sion of Tamera is of a vibrant
several small groups with trans- A lesson interacting with nature. You community of people learn-
lators indicate an international in trust. won’t see naked earth as you ing to live together in trust
audience. We join in song to end
the morning, with memorable
Rui Vasco

words, “Even though you have

broken your vows a thousand
times, come on, come on, you
are welcome into the garden.”
Tamera is 134 hectares (330
acres) of land that includes
woodland, natural water and hills.
It is evident that the community
is creating structure and new
biodiversity based on perma-
Rui Vasco

44 Permaculture Magazine No. 34 www.permaculture.co.uk

and harmonious co-operation on site, the
with nature. These are people economy is just
inspired to co-create a healing about self-sup-
‘bio-tope’, or model, as part porting from
of a new global culture that is its programme
emerging to restore the earth and by indi-
whilst enabling the realisation vidual trades.
of human potential. When the If a new and
first fully equipped resource better way of
building burnt down a few life is to exist
years ago along with library it must be
and computers, it turned out created. Eco-
not to be a setback but served communities
as a challenge to extend the can be some

Rui Vasco
support, the inspiration and of the new
the participation that Tamera oases in the
received to start over again. midst of tradi-
Now the community has, tional society’s deserts. Putting Above: CONTACTS
for example, a 10 guest room energy into planning and social Inspecting Anyone interested in becoming
chalet with another planned, change can be frustrating and apple trees. involved with the Tottenique
an annual programme of disempowering in countries like project is welcome. Investment
workcamps and workshops Britain. To counterbalance this, is also a possibility to protect
on spirituality Left: more of this beautiful and
and ecology, Relaxation unspoilt valley. Contact:
a summer uni- space. Alycone Black.
versity for over Tel: 077 7470 3459.
300 people, alycone@aum.freewire.co.uk
research activ- Below left:
ities, world Workshop and For information on Swedish
peace work- accommoda- eco-timber house building, contact:
ers’ forums, tion spaces. Jonathan Evelight
and a youth Tel: 01983 533 129
school for rainbow@aum.freewire.co.uk
Rui Vasco

global educa- Below right:

tion. Cohesion Sign: ‘During Tamera – Centre for Humane
comes through complete parti- we believe it necessary to put the main Ecology, Monte do Cerro,
cipation in community life and energy into creating sustainable season, please P-7630 Colos, Portugal.
through the community’s Forum lifestyles in places less restrictive don’t walk Tel. +351 283 635 306
or talking circle. Solar energy and more conducive to support- upon the tamera@mail.telepac.pt
and vegetarian food is resourced ing an ecological future water’. www.tamera.org

For matters concerning planning

Rui Vasco

issues, contact:
Chapter 7 News, The Potato Store,
Flax Drayton Farm, South
Petherton, Somerset TA13 6TE.
Rui Vasco

www.permaculture.co.uk No. 34 Permaculture Magazine 45