Farming in on Madeira Island

I was away for 10 days, traveling to the island of Madeira. Madeira sits out in the Atlantic across from Morocco but is part of Portugal. Madeira is called the Isle of Flowers and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I won’t bore you with all my vacation experiences but would like to share some of the approaches to agriculture that we have in common. Madeira is very mountainous with steep cliffs that go directly down to the ocean. All of the farming is done on terraced land. No machinery, all hand-dug, planted and harvested. Our guide never mentioned the word organic. That’s because organic is their method of farming, so it is not even in their vocabulary. Their climate allows continuous planting, one crop out another in. Their water comes from levadas, which are hand dug canals that carry the water down from the mountaintops. I have to share a couple of photos of Madeira. Tourism is the main source of income and I promised to spread the word about this lovely place and its people.


Last weeks’ harvest

Now back on the homefront! Our wonderful crew of gleaners harvested and distributed over 700 hundred pounds of 10 varieties of veggies this past week. Our spinach beds are probably going to need a team of gleaners just by themselves! Our fall romaine lettuce is beautiful and getting sent out this week. One of the nice aspects of fall growing is not fighting off all the insects.

New developments

John, who is always working on ways to make the farm more functional and easier for the volunteers, is creating a wider parking area. The gleaners will be able to back right down to the garden shed area and load up the boxes of produce from the assembly area. Thanks, John!

Garlic planted by local children

On Sunday, we had a group of kids and parents coming to plant an entire plot of garlic. The weather will be cool but sunny so that always helps. Another project off our to-do list.

Welcome volunteers!

We welcomed a new volunteer this week, Missy. The recent publicity has sent us several new members to add to our team. There is so much to do before the snow flies, garden cleanup, compost to be spread, a tunnel, and a greenhouse to be relocated. So, every pair of hands are so appreciated. (If you are interested in volunteering, please email