Keela Yoga Farm is based on an 18.8 hectare (46 acre) plot of land in Mata Da Rainha in central Portugal. Far from any roads or noise, away from light pollution and surrounded by nature. Here are some photos of when we bought the land and before we started anything.
On our land we plan to create a magical place where people can practice yoga, relax and eat healthy food in a community living environment. We grow our own food organically using permaculture principles, create our own energy and plan to reforest as much of our land as part of our reforestation, carbon offsetting and food forest project.
Photos from November 2017 – when we bought the land. For updates please check our facebook page or blog.
We have our own waterfal on our land. Some volunteers showered in this duing the cold months now more people use it in the summer. We didn’t even know about this, a volunteer found it…
Kimberly leaving the courtyard into the magical 50 acre garden where everything you see is part of Keela Yoga Farm!
Cork hill which is visible from the main house is the existing forest we have. This mainly contains Cork Oak (for wine bottle cork) and Holm Oak. To add diversity to this forest we have already planted many chestnut and oak trees and plan to plant lot more.
We call this lake ‘The Barragem’, which is portuguese for dam. This is a man made lake which was part of the intricate earthworks that have taken place over generations to help the land manage its abundance of water. This lake will be dedicated for animals to drink from.
The stone pig houses that we hope to convert in the future.
This is ‘Bonnie Lake’. It is full all year round and was historically used for irrigating the land, so we will use it for the same purpose.
This is part of the old stone house before we removed all of the brambles from the front. It was built with natural stone from the land.
Our land has many overgrown terraces and the land has not been fully used for more than 9 years. It also had a big fire 5 years ago which unfortunately damaged many trees. The lack of work on the land has allowed nature to recover it with natural grasses, wild flowers, medicinal herbs and pioneer species coming up everywhere making the soil very fertile. We have almost a metre of organic soil in most areas. We will turn most of it into food forests, vegetable gardens, places for animals or nice places to relax, meditate and practice yoga.
Our land is big and nobody lives in the farms that surround us which has left a lot of space for nature to take over. With that comes animals. We see this vulture circling almost every day, and we have named him Hank. We have also seen wild boar, rabbits, deer, badgers, snakes, quails and many other birds that we haven’t yet identified. We plan to leave areas of land for them and provide corridors across it so wild animals can thrive and move. Don’t be afraid of these animals, they generally stay away from us but we do need to put up defences around our trees, vegetable gardens and food forests.
If you like climbing rocks, you can go to ‘One Tree Hill’. There is large cork tree growing on a huge mound of rocks on a hill that requires some rock climbing. It has a beautiful view that includes Monsanto mountain and many farms and villages.
This part of the land has been devastated by years of agriculture, the tractor and the plough. However there is evidence that nature is bringing it back as there are many baby trees growing and last spring it was full of wild flowers. This is where we will help nature move along by planting trees as part of our carbon offsetting program.
This green shrubs are called ‘Giestra’ or ‘Broom’ in English. They have a wonderful flower and are pioneer nitrogen fixers so are usually perfect for a project such as ours. However they also catch fire easily and spread fire fast. Portugal has a huge problem with fires, and even our land was mostly burnt down 5 years ago. So no smoking on our land please. Most local farmers would take their tractor and plough across the land and destroy it all to prevent fires. We have found out that the giestra is a good mulch, good when put through a wood chipper to use in a compost toilet and a great for animal bedding. Instead of using a tractor, we will slowly over time remove the giesta one by one as we use them and plant other species in their place to take over their function when they are gone. In reality they will never be gone but we will maintain clean fire breaks around our land and the areas we live in.
From this high point you can see three flat fields. These are open fields that have been used for grazing, corn and grains over centuries. The soil is amazing and rich and nature has taken over and it is full of different grasses, wild flowers and baby trees. We will be turning this into many smaller fields and a lake by creating edges through planting trees and shrubs. We want to make different food forests that would support different animals as without animals a forest is missing manure.
As the land has been used by shepherds for so many years, there are a lot of fences around splitting the land into different areas. We will use these to plant climbers such as kiwifruit and grapes. In this photo is a gate to a magical flat quiet area that has olive trees, eucalyptus trees, one tree hill and wonderful view that will be turned into our Zen Gardens for absolute undisturbed bliss. Every been to a yoga retreat and the yoga deck is next to something noisy, a road, kitchen or nightclub? We searched for 3 years to find somewhere that isn’t like that so we can design the perfect yoga retreat from scratch!
This is our rye field with ‘Pac Man Hill’ in the distance. All over the land are large stones that resemble different animals or things and we are naming them accordingly! This field was previously used for grains and Laurence has been digging down to test the soil for growing and the clay below it for building.
This was the court yard when we arrived here in August, three months before we bought it. We have cleaned it up but we still have a long way to go.
Chilling after a hard day clearing brambles and checking out the sunset from the rocks behind the stone buildings.
Our friends that recently volunteered with us, and of course Lenny the dog, sitting in the field that we plan to reforest and create a huge lake in. It is very waterlogged and no good for mulch. If you know what else to do with waterlogged land, please get in touch with us!
Before we started cleaning this well, you couldn’t even see it. Since then, we have cleaned it nicely and have discovered an old rock that a lady in the village says was for washing clothes on and an old tank. This well is fed by an underwater spring and has been stagnant for many years. We keep pumping water out and it keeps filling up! And now the water is clear and doesn’t smell. this is what we will use for showering and irrigation. For drinking water we collect large amounts of water from a famous spring in the mountain that has water with no chemicals and all the minerals that we need.
We are free!!!! Our house and the back of it where we have started a food forest with the existing pear trees.
Although we have been working on cleaning the land since August, we did not officially buy the land until 22nd November, 2017 and by the end of November we had planted more than 1000 acorns, chestnuts, pine seeds and over 150 baby trees. This acorn was the first one we planted. Our only problem will be locating it again….. We have the space to plant 1000s more trees and we plan to do it.
Our cousin Louise standing on another viewpoint near the house that we can get to if you like climbing rocks. We only discovered this in November as the path is overgrown with mimosa trees.
Near the courtyard is a big stone oven (middle right) and three stone pig houses with outhouses (left). We will use the oven to cook bread, cakes and whatever we can, and at the moment we are using the outside of the pig houses for storing wood. The land is full of very old constructions using granite stone that is in abundance in this area. On top of that, the old owners have left piles of them everywhere ready for us to use for any more buildings or walls as they moved them when they were plowing.
Another view of the open fields.
Click here to see further photos of the work that volunteers have been doing to the land in November 2016