More about the project and the people behind Várzea Milagrosa.
With Várzea Milagrosa we dedicate ourselves to our own personal life’s work. In a world full of constructed realities, we want to set an example for a sensual and mindful life in and with nature. In our understanding of life, such complex concepts as coherence (A. Antonovsky), flow (M. Csíkszentmihályi) and mindfulness merge into a coherent whole. Thus, our project goal is also not profit-oriented. Rather, we strive for economic viability. This means that we want to earn enough money to adequately compensate our employees and ourselves.
We, that is Bernhard and Eva-Maria. And of course, beyond all philosophy, we are also in it with our hearts. For Eva, this ties in with her childhood and youth experiences in Chiemgau (Bavaria). Bernhard has been passionate about wild plants since childhood and has relevant experience as a cook, healer, gardener, orchardist and more.
This is also how the project focus came about:
With these ideas in mind and after all kinds of preliminary research, we set out in 2021 and finally found our herdade. So now we have landed in Foz das Caveiras and the conditions could hardly be more challenging.
In the beginning there is the bramble wilderness and the barbed wire, the land is desolate and tangled, then man wants to be a creator and create the agriculture of the future … a critical look at our journey with permaculture.
Environmental protection according to the German concept has not yet arrived in Portugal. Plastic, scrap metal, construction waste and other garbage are often simply dumped into the next embankment. And where there is already a pile, more garbage soon joins it. The blackberries are soon on the spot and spread a thorny cloak of forgetfulness over it. At longer intervals, one then makes a “limpeza”, which means cleansing. In the process, you go after the blackberries with heavy equipment and make everything worse.
It was already clear that we also wanted to have a few olive trees. In the olive, pleasure, vitality and the sheer timelessness of a 1000-year-old creature are condensed. An olive tree is not just a tree – it is a reference to eternity.
An olive tree can live over 1000 years. Of these, our little trees have managed the first fifteen years. Well, time passes quickly enough. However, we now have about 4000 of these olives and the plantations are in poor condition. This part of the project was also not planned this way. The repair of the plantations will take several more years. But this opens us the wonderful opportunity to bottle our herbal preparations with farm extra virgin olive oil in the future.
Taste is everything! Wild herbs from the Mato, flowers and citrus aromas are! Pleasure extra for your kitchen and health.
The dry overgrown slopes, called macchia in Italy, are called the mato here in Portugal. Ask an Alentejano about the value of mato and he will tell you about cortiza (cork extraction) and medronho (a fruit brandy made from the berries of the strawberry tree). But here you can also find a variety of aromatic and medicinal wild herbs … not least the paint rockrose.