My parents had a large self-sufficient garden. I have worked there since I was five years old. Collecting stones, harvesting fruit and weeding were my main tasks. Even then it was deeply repugnant to me to uproot the wonderfully aromatic and vital wild herbs. Instead, I should be struggling to find bland vegetables that can’t hold their own without human help. And so I became interested early on in wild plants and everything you can do with them.
That’s how I got into herbal medicine and cooking, among other things, and worked for many years as a chef and as an alternative medicine practitioner. Through wild herbs and fruit growing I came to my orchard and further to wine and vinegar production. These connections also gave rise to the specialization in nutrition for people with special needs. Essentials from this work can be found again in our book Nutrition for Highly Sensitive People.
Like the plants, I need enough sun and blossom where others have long sought the cooling shade. So now here in the Alentejo I am putting my work and knowledge into our project. And, of course, it is a particular concern of mine to bring the value of wild plants to people’s awareness via the project.
The “green life” has meant that I now have various craft skills. There is always something that is better to do yourself. And, of course, I’m the one facing the practical challenges now, too. And there are plenty of them here, since everything has to be built from scratch.
My great-aunts had already embarked on a rural life after World War I and started a self-sufficiency and cultural project in Chiemgau (Bavaria). I myself grew up in Munich and spent many summers of my childhood in their large garden on the edge of the forest. The experiences from that time are deeply imprinted in my memory.
My mother, on the other hand, grew up in Argentina and gave me a connection to the Latin American way of life and Spanish language, as well as a longing for the southern fruits. All this I now encounter again in the stories and everyday culture of the senhores and donas. So one of my project contributions is to make connections with local people and culture. And personal connections are elementary here for the success of the project. I also document what we find here, both old and new, healing, reshaping and growing. You can find the photos and blog posts about it in the photo gallery and blog.
As a speech therapist, I am of course a career changer. Every day I learn new practical worlds, approaches, plants, methods of cultivation, ways of preparation, effects and also find myself in the practical procedures. And I bring my life experience to bear on the many decisions we have to make as we build our company.