An Local nature reservate

Preserving nature and teaching ecology

a story about preservation and conservation

Our ambition

Our ambition is to live in balance with and without negatively impacting nature and to be able to show many people that this is very possible without even sacrificing in comfort. We want to show some options and inspire people to take some home with them because it is also possible in an urban setting.

We have to say we are not perfect, we drive a diesel car, did a lot of flying, cook on gas and we still buy most of my food in a regular supermarket. But you have to start somewhere. It will take us many years to become fully self-sustainable. We believe focussing on what we are doing right is the way forward and guilt tripping ourselves for being alive is not going to add much ;). It’s a start and we just want to show an alternative for the current way society works, and when we are underway for a while I’m sure the positive impact will well outdo the negative.

Word travel together

We started by working and travelling in Australia for a year. There we got the first contact of feeling that nature is much bigger than us. The wide 1000km natural open spaces really changed our world view. This was where we first thought of the idea of finding land. Then we travelled Asia where we found a lot of inspiration with how you can live together with nature. and over time we made our plan. We saw a lot of jaw dropping beaches, mountains, wildlife and all sorts of natural beauty, but also a lot of pollution and habitat destruction.

Finding land

So then the adventure began, where do we want to live? Need to be warm, sunny, fertile, have fresh water and be affordable. After being away from home for many years, we decided we should at least stay in Europe. So south Europe was the place to be, land still cheap, great culture and sunny. We bought our old Mercedes van and went to explore.

We drove around the coast of Spain and Portugal and found a lot of nice places. Basque country, beautiful, good weather but way too expensive, Gallicia, Beautifull, cheap but it rains more than the Netherlands, and so on. After a while we felt we would never find the right spot, until our van broke down in Odeceixe. Luckily we knew a friend who lives here so we asked if we could stay at their place until we could drive again. Staying here for a couple of weeks we fell in love with the place, but surely it wouldn't be possible to find a spot here, right?

We finished our circle around the coast, but we weren’t too interested anymore. Our mind was set on the southwest coast of Portugal; Costa Vincentina. Back in the Netherlands we worked for a while to be able to go back and go on a land hunt. When we arrived back in Portugal with our loyal Mercedes van we talked to a lot of real estate agents, but when they heard our budget they lost their interest and we mostly got the advice to reconsider our dreams, and this was not even in our dream region. We went from north to south and found a volunteering place in Monchique where we stayed for a couple of weeks. We considered going back to Alentejo because there the land prices were more realistic but since we practically passed Odeceixe we just wanted to have a quick look. There was one property we really liked, but way over budget. We thought we should have a practice viewing first at a completely ridiculous property (the photo on the ad was literally a closeup of a tree). The practice property is the property we are living on now.

Making money

Now we had to earn the money to actually pay for the land. Since we had some luck the previous year with working in Australia we figured that this would be the place we could earn enough to pay off the land. We landed in Perth (Western Australia) because we read there would be the best earning possibilities, but since Australia was starting to enter a recession there was not much here. After a little while we found a job… in the Hunter valley close to Newcastle, on the other side of Australia. We bought a 4x4 car, made a kitchen and some storage in the back with some pallets, got a rooftop tent and got cracking.

A week later we arrived in the Hunter valley where Pjotr would make the wine in the winery and do gardening on the property and Anne would do the wine tastings in the cellar door and work in the restaurant. In the beginning we could work a lot of hours here, but later we got extra jobs on the side. After half a year we moved to Sydney. Pjotr got his forklift license and started working in a warehouse and gardening on the side. Anne got a job at the commonwealth bank as a boardroom attendant. After a while we both got more jobs on the side and in the end we did sometimes six different jobs in a week. Pjotr did warehouse, construction, bartending, light and sound installation for events, wedding waiter, taking care of a boy with autism, random forklift driving, gardening, setting up exhibitions, and so on. Anne worked at a lot of different places in hospitality ranging from the bank to wedding waiter to catering.

So we have worked the last 1,5 year in Australia and New Zealand and we have paid off the land. Now we are still waiting on the final approval of our building permit to construct a house on the land. But we have enough cool stuff to work on in the meantime.

About Anne

Since I was very little I always had a fascination for nature. So when I started my Bachelor I decided to study environmental science because I wanted to know more about the natural world. During this study I learned already very early that we as humans are not living in balance with nature. The facts that I learned in the first couple of years were quite depressing.
 From burning palm oil from tropical regions where they cut down the rainforest for it, then to be transported halfway across the world to be burned as a green energy source. How large fishing fleets are emptying out the oceans with military precision. How short term profits always seems to win over a long term sustainable gain. How large corporations influence politics. How the current economic system seems to reward environmental destruction. Microplastics, climate change, rich countries dumping their waste in poor countries. And so on. I learned many things in my studies of how we as humans are dealing with our resources and planet and with each other. I spoke to the retired first minister of the environment of the Netherlands, who really taught me to focus more on what is happening positively then on what is all going wrong. This really helped me.
 So I continued studying and during my internship in Mexico I discovered the coral reef, this ecosystem amazed me, this is a place where life is abundant, vibrant biodiverse and in perfect harmony. Unfortunately the reef is under many treats. From water pollution from agricultural run-off to micro plastics, overfishing, coral bleaching and mangrove destruction and so on.. so because I fell in love with this beautiful ecosystem I decided to focus on protecting this habitat. For my master I choose Marine ecology. I researched the effects of eutrophication on the coral reef, by studying sponges and corals.

After struggling to finish my thesis, I found out I am not really well equipped to deal with the stress levels that are part of a researchers life when you want to be successful. There is limited funding and many people competing for this funding. Furthermore I felt like research already clearly shows that we as humans need to change our behaviour towards the natural world which we are part of. We need to do this for our own survival. Clean technology and many other solutions were available and still there was little being done to protect the reef and the natural word. I felt like publishing another article about how the reef is dying in a language that only my colleagues in the same field really understand was not the way for me to contribute to the solution.

I must say I still really love science and research and it is very critical to do this to understand more about nature and how things work and are connected. It was just not the right road for me. I found out I like to be more hands on and actively restore and protect nature. For example; I worked on an island to protect turtle nests, pick up truckloads of plastic on the beach, educate local people how to recycle and what's important about the reef. I tried to find jobs in my field that are more hands-on. But by then the economic crisis hit and the jobs that were there required 5 years of work experience etc etc. Other jobs I could get would require me to sit most of my time behind a desk which I know would make me miserable. So me and my partner decided to fulfill another life’s dream, to travel the word.

During this trip we had to make a plan. How do we want to live life and how can I still contribute to protecting nature. So now we decided to just buy a piece of land and start protecting that. In the end we are living in and are part of one big ecosystem and to protect the reef and the natural world and ourselves we have to find a way to live more in balance with nature. With this project I hope to get people enthusiastic and inspired and show a way (there are many) to contribute to this.

About pjotr

I am a musician and my reason for being one is that I love getting people together. To me music, like art and food, is a universal language that everyone understands. When there is music people will crowd together to enjoy it and sometimes take a break from the struggles people have in their everyday life, which can give people the space to have new ideas for their life and their surroundings. I guess this is a red line in my life.
After studying at the conservatory in Utrecht (NL), I started teaching drums in the afternoons and do gardening in the mornings. My little drumschool grew out to be a recording studio and meeting place on the oudegracht in Utrecht. There were bands recording and rehearsing, drum lessons, but I also rented office spaces for sole traders (mostly creative),and in the evenings there were activities such as movie nights, creative workshops and anything we could think of. The main idea was to have a place where people from all different backgrounds could meet and ideas could merge.

Travelling mostly convinced me of the necessity of taking care of the earth. Living in the city I did not get in touch with the damage we do to faraway places and how fragile and beautiful they are. When Anne graduated she had to go travelling the world, and since I didn’t have much reason to decline I went with her. While travelling I was amazed with what the world has to offer, and also got a little confused about why we would stay in concrete settlements that to me are not the best example of beauty while we are completely abandoning and wrecking the places that are most inspiring and give so much joy, next to being the supporting pillar of all life on earth.