Building paradise in Portugal | Portugal | DW | 18.04.2013
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Portugal

Building paradise in Portugal

Many Portuguese graduates are leaving the economic crisis behind and going abroad. But a few are toughing it out at home, and have decided to try their luck in agriculture.

Filipe Alves has a dream, and it is located a half-hour drive to the southeast of Lisbon. There, in the wilds of the Arrábida Mountains, long vegetable beds cling to the curve of the land. Filipe studied economics, but now finds himself planting seedlings. It all began three years ago, when he and four friends started their farming project called Biovilla, which translates to "organic farm."

Since it began, the number of new farmers to become involved in the project has more than tripled. Most of them are young, and many are recent graduates.

Looking for new perspectives in the countryside is not unusual in Portugal, which saw its under-40s initiate more than a thousand farming projects in 2011 alone.

Growing stronger

The founders of Biovilla would like to see Portugal become less dependent on imports. They believe in self-sufficiency, and want to plant their own food and be responsible for their own electricity and water supplies.

Their work is based on the principles of permaculture, which is sustainable agriculture that makes careful use of natural resources, and practices fair distribution while remaining economically viable.

Filipe received grants worth 300,000 euros from the European Union and the Portuguese government to fund his project. In the long term, the hope is that it will be able to sustain itself through the sale of vegetables and eco-tourism.

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