When we enter the gates of this land, currently owned by the Regional Government, this former philosophy professor, first president of the local Parish Council, is bent over some yams that he harvested moments before.
Caminho dos Murinhos, Luzirão
9325-156 Jardim da Serra
How to get there
+351 969 862 258 (Prof. Manuel Neto)
+351 926 651 058 (Marco Neto)
Teresa Vivas, Mesa Cultura Gastronómica
Texto de Tiago Pais
Fotografias de Tiago Pais
First, a caveat: the products that leave the land of Quinta Leonor are not sold to the public, but rather delivered to the Jardim da Serra Primary School, to the São Vicente de Paulo Conference, and other social solidarity institutions of the county and outside it. Because more than a producer, Manuel Neto is a kind of guardian, or conservator, of some products that were once abundant in the island's gardens, but which are increasingly being abandoned. And, therefore, it doesn’t have a commercial purpose. Even so, the common citizen can taste some of these relics.
When we enter the gates of this land, currently owned by the Regional Government, this former philosophy professor, first president of the local Parish Council, is bent over some yams that he harvested moments before. As he strikes them, he explains how "each yam tree lasts for many years, the edible part is removed and planted again." The so-called left-handed ones, the origin of the new plant, were used in the traditional wheat soup, making it more substantial. “My grandmother used to say it was chestnut uprooting food”, he smiles. Manuel shows us five varieties of yams. The purple, the yellow, the elephant's paw and two more curious ones. The “ugly and good” and the Silvestre (Wild). Capitalized because it is not wild, but belongs to an individual with that nickname.
However, the farm's activity is not restricted to the tubercle. An inventory of regional fruit trees is also carried out: apple, pear, and cherry trees. Word to the teacher: “This here [Jardim da Serra] was the land of cherry. It was something you planted and you didn't have to do anything.” But times have changed now: climate change has made cherry trees dry, making them more susceptible to fungi. It's the apple trees that don't feel bad: the person in charge proudly shows us photos of the last harvest. On that small piece of land, there are 30 varieties planted, such as Camoesa, Focinho de Rato or Pêro Domingos. And it’s already in the company of his son Marco, who manages the small family biological farm, following the principles of syntropic agriculture — where it’s possible to buy the products — that he serves us a delicious cider made precisely with this apple, which steals the name to his great-grandfather, the man who made him famous in Madeira. It's all in the family.