Today was the womens group third meeting. 25 women had come to a pick-nick at practically the end of the world near the spanish border. We visited a beautiful farm of aromatic herbs. Herbs in this area contain essential oils of exceptional quality because of the clean air, dry climate and high light intensity. The owner has dedicatedly been working here for 15 years to select and grow herbs, distill the oils and craft medical and cosmetic products of 100% natural origin (organic, eco-, bio- and so on). She shared with us her troubles of working-on-a-good-idea but not finding fertile earth for it to grow and blossom.
Although herbs/aromatic plants seem a wonderful idea for this marginalized area, the road of is full of obstacles. It had always been planned as a pilot for multiplication by local farmers, but current price-levels are too low. At the same time some clients pay gold for creams and lotions that are half as good…. There seems to be a job for a creative marketing and sales person here, but finding the right partners has not been easy so far.
Our discussion then went to the development of the Alentejo, where we all live. It is depopulating and socially marginalizing. It is, at the same time, showered in subsidies and (therefor) large-scale agriculture is often lucrative. How to revive the villages? How to strengthen the ties between economical and social wellbeing? An anecdote of a PhD researcher illustrates the priorities of the remaining, ageing population: when asked what they wanted for the development of their area they said “a nice mortuary”.
I think the herb farm is not the only one who cannot find the right partners. There is a clue in linking, weaving, networking people and ideas together. The womenns network itself is becoming a stronger network with every meeting. I find that meetings f2f are very important as email is still not deemed ´real communication´. A culture of companionship is evolving. Each meeting generates a lot of enthusiasm and energy.
Real communication does take place though, on email. The email-group has had a few scoops, where the community news was out on email before it travelled elsewhere. Last week a lady announced on the group that 2 adoptive children had been included in their family. Now that´s nice news!