The Soil to Soul Symposium returns to Terramay farm in Portugal. It was acquired in 2018 by the Swiss entrepreneur Thomas Sterchi who, together with his team, converted production there from conventional to regenerative agriculture. What they learned in the process is knowledge worth passing on. A spirit of optimism is now descending over the nearby town of Alandroal as the launching of a local edition of Soil to Soul approaches.
Located in the Central Alentejo Region, the municipality of Alandroal is already home to several initiatives that are transforming agricultural production through sustainable approaches. When the municipal administration got in touch with Terramay's management team and heard about the Soil to Soul concept, it didn't take long for them to come up with the idea of an offshoot in Portugal. The goal is the same wherever the regenerative agriculture or "Regen Ag" concept takes root: To establish through strong community ties the protection and regeneration of soil as a means of making a living.
"The importance of regenerative agriculture and organic production for the future of human nutrition and the climate cannot be underestimated," asserts the Mayor, João Grillo.
Which is why implementing an event like Soil to Soul Alandroal is such a key idea. "Events are the best way to make the general population, especially that part of it still in education, aware of the opportunities regenerative agriculture has to offer," he states in the symposium press release. Soil to Soul Alandroal takes place within the walls of the picturesque Castle of Alandroal on May 14 and 15.
Our long-term vision is to establish the region around Alandroal as a destination for sustainable tourism, so the event will also serve to market this objective, too. The lighthouse project Terramay, which is designed to be 100% self-sufficient in both energy and food, will be opening its doors and welcoming guests from 2023 onwards.
As in Zurich, the Soil to Soul programme in Portugal offers much more than just informative lectures and presentations on the benefits of a holistically conceived agriculture, it also includes moments of actual culinary pleasure dished up by young chefs from the region (Marlene Vieira, João Sá, José Júlio Vintem).
Concerts by the Porto-based band Best Youth and lo-fi musician Benjamin complete the aptly-titled "We are what we eat" programme.
Having said that, the presentations by such regional producers as Talho das Manas, Paisagindo Bio, Cogumelos do Alentejo and Terramay itself remain the event's most important feature. After all, sustainably produced products not only benefit the soil and ecosystems, but also have far more to offer in terms of flavour than industrial products.