green blue world

Abundant landscapes for people and nature

Ben and Philo’s water retention landscape, North Portugal (2014)

Benjamim and Philo Fontes have been doing a great job repairing the land on their small farm in Santa Maria da Feira, north Portugal.  Thanks to planting a diversity of trees and allowing others to grow naturally, the land is already recovering from the barren state it was in prior to Ben and Philo taking it on.  They have bigger dreams, though!  The site is blessed with two all-year water inputs (a stream, and a spring emerging in a broken water tank), and one winter only input (a stream occasionally contaminated by a neighbour’s herbicides). We designed a water system for this small quinta to ensure these water inputs do not cause erosion damage but instead provide constant hydration for  Benjamim’s vegetables and Philo’s fruit trees. The design includes the establishment of a permanent water course and development of valuable riparian habitat; distribution of water by swales running off water retention spaces (controllable with swivel pipes); a drip irrigation system; a chicken/crop rotation system with swales; and new yields from ducks/geese, cranberry, vaccinium species, fish, firewood (willow, alder), extended fruit and nut trees, and marsh ledges for rice! The potentially contaminated stream input is treated by a swale planted with wetland plants, and kept separate from the tank which is to be restored and converted into a fish pond (and source of irrigation water).