Regenerative living

Applying syntropic farming methods for dryland regeneration, with Jacob Evans

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Over the years I’ve been hearing about a new pedagogy of land management that has been gaining in popularity, especially in agroforestry circles. The trouble for me has been that until recently a lot of the resources have been in portuguese, and so I kept my eye on it from a distance. Syntropic farming is a term first coined by Ernst Gostch, a swizz farmer who emigrated to Brazil in the 80’s and pioneered this new form of farmland management on his land in Bahia. But today, to speak about the principles of syntropic farming and how he’s adapted them to the unique mediterannean climate in the southern region of spain known as Andalucia I spoke with a good friend of mine, Jacob Evans. Jacob has been working for 4 years now at the Suryalila yoga retreat center as their permaculture farm manager. In that time he helped to establish some impressive agroforestry and food production systems with limited resources in a region best known for rapid desertification and extremes of hot dry summers and frigid winters. Their 20 hectare property stands in contrast to the desnuded plains around them and is beginning to change the hearts and minds of people who think that there’s little that can be done to reverse the damage done to the land there. 

In this interview we talk about what syntropic farming is and what it represents. Jacob walks me through some of the ways that he’s applied its principles to his context in Andalucia and how the trials have been working out 4 years in. We also go over some of the specific plants and methods that have been successful for him there and a lot more. 

I was actually able to meet Jacob after this interview in person the other week when he came up to Barcelona for a trip and we got to hang out a bit and talk about our projects and ambitions here in Spain. We also did a little fermented food and seed swap from our respective gardens. I’m really looking forward to further collaborating with Jacob since he’s already been a great contact for me as I get to know this new country and region by sharing planting lists and advice from his experience. 

I’m also looking to get  in touch with other innovators and practitioners of syntropic farming, especially here in Spain or the Mediterranean region, so if any of you out there know of someone who fits that description, please pass their contact on or share this episode with them.


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