Last week, we hosted the first of our Soil Carbon Removal Think Tank sessions – a series of...
Farmers Stories: Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture Through our Carbon+ Program
Monte Silveira Bio
Malpica do Tejo, Idanha a Nova, Portugal
Holistic planned grazing
Favourite feature of Carbon+
João Valente is the 2nd generation owner of Monte Silveira Bio, a Montado-style agrosilvopastoral system farm in Portugal. Monte Silveira Bio has gone through a series of transformations throughout the years. What was once a conventional farm, then organic, is now an ecosystem on its way towards regeneration.
But what exactly inspired João to shift his operations to regenerative management, and how has he utilised our Carbon+ Program to exceed his goals?
THE TRIGGER TO TRANSITION
Monte Silveira Bio was once a conventional farm specialising in tobacco production. The farm used pesticides, herbicides, ploughing, tillage and all the in-between. In 1999, the tobacco subsidies that were powering the farm’s finances were abolished. As a result, João decided to transition to organic farming.
In 2002, he started direct drilling and could see that the ecosystem was responding. As he puts it: “The farm was more resilient and beautiful. Biodiversity was increasing, and we were making more money”. Inspired by the impact he could see before his eyes, João decided to go on an educational endeavour to Australia in 2006. That’s when he was introduced to the concept of regenerative management, and everything changed.
According to João, when you’re practising conventional agriculture, you have challenges every year. Whether it’s determining the price of produce, battling variable weather conditions, or overworking the land just to make ends meet, farmers are at the mercy of external forces. As a result, João states that “you need financial support because, without it, agriculture is extremely stressful. It’s your psychological well-being at stake”.
On the flip side of this, farmers are also faced with ecological difficulties that conflict with their economic burdens. João highlights that even in conventional farming, you need to consider organic matter. For him, the farm was never able to pass the 1% mark. Now, he has places that are as high as 5%.
“We were too busy thinking about what was above the soil and never considering what was below it.”
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES THROUGH CARBON+
João had a lot of struggles financially while trying to work towards regenerative management because no one was there to help him. But that’s not the case anymore.
He has a clear-cut roadmap of his farm business goals, and the financial support provided through the program will play a key role in bringing his ambitions to fruition. As he puts it: “The money I'll receive through Carbon+ is so important for buying the tools and implementing the practices that will take my farm to the next level.”
According to João, this is precisely why he chose Climate Farmers as his partner. He believes the people who transition through the program might not realise how lucky they are. “It’s so much easier and more facilitated. You don’t have the burden of financial stress. You have support, a sparring partner and a friend to help you along the way.”
Beyond that, though, João believes the benefits of Carbon+ go a lot deeper than simply financial support. It’s also about community.
It’s no secret that agriculture can be an isolating industry. Those pioneering new management styles or shaking up the status quo are judged by farmers in their local vicinity. But that’s all changed.
Through Carbon+, João has connected with hundreds of farmers from all over Europe guided by the same principles and on the same path.
“It’s not just about the program. It’s also about the people. I’ve had the chance to find a community where we all have the same passion. We support each other and share our successes, failures and all the in-between. If you fail a few times, you’ll give up. So having financial and social support through Carbon+ is so important. It gives you comfort, strength, and certainty on your journey.”