In February 2022 I decided to venture out to an eco-farm in Portugal where I had the closest experience to what they call a regenerative lifestyle. I returned to my hometown (Budapest) with a new hope that projects like PurposeFlow Living may actually bring about real change and offer a viable solution to the stark predictions of the latest IPCC Sixth Assessment Report of water scarcity, biodiversity loss, droughts and food insecurity. Regeneration and healing of our planet can only happen through our active participation in biodiversity restoration, and that is what my below invitation is about.
Why are we still at war with each other and with nature?
While witnessing the biggest refugee crisis and geopolitical threat in Europe since the WWII (at the time of writing this post a war broke out in neighboring Ukraine), it became clear that whether it’s wars or climate emergency we are talking about the same existential problem, the origins of both is a cultural and a structural crisis. The dominant system of neoclassical economy is based on cut-throat competition, isolation and control that leads to power games, concentration of wealth, profit maximisation and severe damage to our collective consciousness. If we want to win the war of greed and destruction we have to fundamentally redesign our systems and mindset. There are already alternatives like the regenerative economy or solidarity economy that promote a new path towards prosperity through collaboration! These alternative economic models are built on unity rather than divide and is what I had a taste of when I joined the PurposeFlow project in Pavia, Portugal.
Regeneration brings us to understand ourselves as part of nature, each other and the community of life as we are facing crisis of governance that is no longer based on ideology or cultural identity, but power and greed. Today we feel isolated and insufficient thus compete with each other and feel threatened, it is therefore time to wake up and realise how we were the very ones who signed up for this system, thus are also able to rewrite it. How we can shift from the polarised and rigid mindsets to valuing multiple perspectives and recognizing that we are all interconnected.
What if an alternative reality already exists and is being created? There are several bioregional communities around the globe that are successfully deploying alternative models, one among them that aims to become 80% self-sufficient in the next 5 years is the Purposeflow community on the land of Guarda Da Freira in Pavia, Portugal.
The Purposeflow Living community was built on the values of co-existence, co-creation and co-facilitation, during my stay on the land I was not only part of what we call a regenerative culture, but I experienced how each of us shaped the space with intellectual wisdom, physical products and genuine care for each other. From this place one can instantly tap into our interconnectedness and interbeing, which automatically draws us to care more about nature and the animals. By slowing down and nurturing our souls we instantly connect with each other as a community. We were on average 10 volunteers working on the ambitious regeneration project, that I describe in more detail below, each of us contributing with our unique and complementary skills. It sounds almost utopian but it isn’t, we can all create our bio-regions as an alternative to the prevailing system, but regeneration of nature starts with regenerating our connections.
Restoring native biodiversity on the land to reverse desertification in Portugal
Let me go back and tell a little bit about the 6-hectar land, the Guarda da Freira in Pavia, Alentejo Region just north-west of Lisbon. Anthony the owner, or as he prefers to be called the steward of the land, set a grand vision to regenerate the desertified land that he has been looking after. Over the past year he welcomed more than 100 volunteers that contributed to building a compost system, upcycling site, compost toilet, kitchen and medicinal herb garden, irrigation system, a wormery, tool shed, greenhouse pods and so on, all following the principle of circular flow of materials as seen in nature. These building blocks, however, are “only” the foundations of Anthony’s grand vision: the restoration of native biodiversity on the land to reverse desertification in Portugal.
75% of the world’s lands are degraded due to inefficient agriculture practices (extensive use of pesticides and monocrop culture) and climate change. Portugal is among the most effected countries in the EU when it comes to soil degradation and droughts. February 2022 was recorded among the driest months in the past 50 years and as the latest IPCC Sixth Assessment Report indicates the current level of 1.1 Celsius degrees warming will just continue causing devastating impact on the South-European Region.
“Since AR5 there is increasing evidence that degradation and destruction of ecosystems by humans increases the vulnerability of people (high confidence). Unsustainable land-use and land cover change, unsustainable use of natural resources, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and their interactions, adversely affect the capacities of ecosystems, societies, communities and individuals to adapt to climate change.”IPCC Sixth Assessment, Working Group II – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
In the event of exceeding 1.5 degrees warming water scarcity and droughts will lead to substantial agricultural product losses and food security problems, however the report proposes several adaptation routes, among them changing farming practices through agroecology and efficient water management and water re-use. It was perhaps not a coincidence that the latest IPCC alarm set off just when PurposeFlow started to prepare their crowdfunding campaign for an ambitious reforestation project. It is planned that together with permaculture designers, volunteers and local experts they will plant 3000 native trees and shrubs to grow an agroforest (agriculture with trees), a biodiverse forest and to provide efficient water supply they will build a water catchment area.
Why agroforests? Agroforestry is a proven ecosystem that enables the regeneration of soil, supports water security, recovers the groundwater levels and acts as a carbon sink.
Reforestation of Guarda da Freira will not only provide habitat to new species and provide an abundant web of life but will be an inspiration for the region and all over Europe where farmers already struggle with decreasing yields and water supply.
During my visit at Guarda da Freira, while carrying out the everyday tasks I also deepened my knowledge about regenerative cultures and forest management, I reconnected with my purpose and was able to see the interconnection of all elements that are needed for a holistic regeneration: humans, animals and biosphere.
Today, I invite you to be part of this transformation and the flourishing of a now dry and water-scarce region, you can make this vital project a reality with your contribution, so one day you may be able to visit the lush forest and harvest its fruits in Portugal.
Visit the full campaign on Indiegogo, learn about the project step by step and the impact it will create, donate in return for some amazing perks like planting and naming trees after you or an invitation to stay with the Purposeflow community for a weekend.
We no longer have to be at war with nature and each other, together we can restore the biodiversity, reverse the destruction and start building a thriving Planet.