I read. A lot. Always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Silvopastoral systems have been one of my most passionate new interests. I love trees and I love animals, putting these things together just seems natural to me. So, when I heard about this Dehesa system in Spain and Portugal where they raise pigs under oak and chestnut trees, I was immediately curious to know more.
Not only do the pigs and the trees get along here but there’s a cork harvest from some of the oaks, there are grasses that cows, sheep and goats can eat, there are mushrooms that can be collected to eat, there is honey made by bees in the trees and all this together makes a magical and beautiful place to be so hiking and touring and living in these places is highly desirable. Isn’t this just paradise!?!?
So naturally I decided we needed to create something similar here and I had to go see this place for myself.
And that is what we did for our first trip alone, together, since starting our family and farm.
Spain and Portugal 2019.
On the Iberian peninsula, they have the Iberian pig as one of their heritage breeds.
It is primarily this breed that they raise from November to February under the canopy of the oaks and chestnuts. Here they eat to their hearts content and put on all that wonderful fat and marbling. Then they are cured for 2 weeks in salt and up to 48 months in the air to make the high priced ‘pata Negra’ or Jamon con bellota.
The hams were good, but our climate is not conducive to curing hams this way, what I was most interested in is how all the elements of this agriforest system worked together.
Now, as chance would have it, we missed the pigs. Literally. By like a week. Heading out there in February, I knew we were on the tail end of the season but we totally missed all the pigs. Lol.
The acorns under the trees were very cleared out. It was obvious they were there but, not anymore. But that was ok! Just hiking and experiencing the treed pastures and speaking with the farmers, we were able to get a real feel and appreciation for the system.
Enough to totally inspire me!!!!
As you may know, I have already started planting about 17 acres with nut trees and native fruit trees to create a dehesa inspired agriforest pastoral system here on our farm.
The trees and still small and it will take time of course but we are so excited to have started on this journey and look forward to the future where we will have a forest of animals both native and domestic, in the trees and grasses. ❤️