A BIT OF history
Cooperativa de Usuários do Freixo do Meio is situated in the “Herdade do Freixo do Meio”, in the Alentejo region (Portugal) and is an agroecology project, inspired by what we call "Montado".
The estate has belonged to the same family for over 6 generations. Alfredo Cunhal Sendim is a farmer and one of four brothers, who have inherited the family agricultural company. His involvement has been a turning point for the conventional farming done on the property, ever since.
In 1997, Alfredo Cunhal Sendim adopted the Agroecologic ancestral farming system of “Montado”, which is closely linked to the ancient Portuguese oak forest. This Portuguese visionary farmer started to produce food in a way more adapted to the natural local conditions and more efficient in terms of environmental costs, always attentive to the social reality and following Agroecology but also Food Sovereignty principles. This includes organic and biodynamic farming, as well as permaculture techniques.
Progressively we focused our food production on a regenerative agroforestry model and design, recognizing the major role of trees in the ecosystem services – how they provide clean air, purify water, and filter soil nutrients, manage storm water and preserve biodiversity. Our food production system runs over an Agroforest structure and is based on a symbioses of high values of wild and domestic biodiversity. The fertility cycles here are natural and based only on the farm resources.
Since January 2018 we are a integral cooperative with more than three dozen employees, most of them from the closest village of Foros de Vale de Figueira, in Montemor-o-Novo, and some young graduates who today are also part of the local population.
A BIT OF HOW WE work
We are a community made up by those who participate in the construction and in the development of our agroecological project, from the beginning (workers, consumers, residents, neighbors, farmers, partners, visitors and other users).
The daily workers meet every fortnight in sociocratic circle reunions hosted by a facilitator. We schedule these regular meetings to talk about objectives, strategies and current challenges of the organization. Everyone is invited to make a proposal to all those present and with communication capacity, argue and agreement we try to approach to a consent decision making.
The current model of collaboration and collective participation structures our social economy work, regulates and harmonizes the different sectorial uses of this Common Good.
A BIT OF what we do
The Montado do Freixo do Meio is the biggest inspiration for our agroecological community because its biodiversity is the culmination of a symbiotic cooperation between many different species of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms.
We are talking about a Portuguese natural and cultural heritage and habitat of hundreds of native species of fauna and flora. The majesty and splendor of the ancient Portuguese oak forest (Quercus suber and Quercus ilex) - a medieval agro-forestry system -, results from the harmonic and respectful relationship between Nature and Man, honed over the centuries.
The biodiversity of this important Mediterranean ecosystem is renowned worldwide. Inside it you can discover wildlife and see our domestic indigenous breeds, grazing on the Montado pastures and managed with extensive practices. Animals are an inseparable part of our agroecology and ethical model of food production that respects the functionality of each species.
Integrated in this ecosystem you will find vegetable gardens, animal production, agroforestry and 7 micro-factories, but also a food distribution system.
We produce healthy, good, in-season and abundant food: organic fruits, vegetables, artisan bread, eggs, cereals, juices, vinegar, wine, olive oil, aromatic herbs, acorn products and meats, specially black pork. We have as well a lot of food products made from indigenous species
In our food processing units we provide value to more than 200 certified organic products, essentially artisan food that enhance the authenticity of “Herdade do Freixo do Meio”, a typical “Monte Alentejano” full of history.
Lisbon city is 114 kms from our farm. We delivery what we produce to the co-producers of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), to our organic farmer shops (one in Lisbon and other at the farm) and also to schools and some talented chefs and fine dining restaurants that demands for organic, local and seasonal vegetables.