Living Seeds

Herbs Aromatic Herbs Edible Flowers Vegetables Seeds

Herdade do Couto da Várzea, in Idanha-a-Nova, is the nerve centre for the recovery of seeds of the most diverse varieties of vegetables, aromatic herbs and flowers. The entire process is done through organic production certification and biodynamic agriculture.

Herdade Couro da Várzea, E.N. 354
6060-270 Ladoeiro, Idanha-a-Nova
How to get there
+351 969 879 163

Instagram /@sementes_vivas_portugal
Facebook /@sementesvivas

Introduced by
João Rodrigues

Texto de Patrícia Serrado
Fotografias de Pedro Sadio

Healthy eating associated with organic, and biodynamics is, for Stephan Doeblin, German, the basic principle of humanity, hence the dream would be to leave its ecological footprint on the planet. Discovering the ideal place to implement this mission is the next step accomplished with the help of Paulo Martinho, a native of Penamacor, who is available to present Idanha-a-Nova, a village in the district of Castelo Branco, in the Beira Baixa region. The chosen place is called Herdade do Couto da Várzea, a 25-hectare property that becomes the headquarters of Sementes Vivas, a company created in 2015, with both as its main founders, as well as the Dutchman Micha Gronewegen.

Working and remitting the land to organic production is the first step to move forward with sowing, to understand which seeds are best adapted to the soil and climate conditions of the place. “In the first year, we selected the best plants, the most adapted to the environment, the most resistant, the most beautiful”, explains Tânia Pinto, responsible for the sales and marketing department at Sementes Vivas.

After harvesting the varieties of vegetables, aromatic herbs and flowers, all their species are subjected to a phased process consisting of extraction, cleaning, drying and correct conservation of the seeds. The order of the work takes place in the existing buildings on the property, which were also rehabilitated to store the equipment. The raw material (seeds) is subjected to multiplication and the process described by our hostess is repeated annually. The germination rate is also recorded, taking into account the seasonality of each product.

Over time, Sementes Vivas has increased its partnerships with farmers from all over the country. Currently, there are 32. They receive the seeds for their sowing. After the cycle of the plant or fruit, they are collected at the company's facilities, in Idanha-a-Nova, where they pass through the phases described above.

Thanks to this set of actions, “in 2016, we achieved 56 varieties. Currently, we have 287”, reveals Tânia Pinto, who emphasizes the importance and the simultaneous growth of demand, whether from producers, or mere curious people. Thus, “we started to understand what the market liked the most” and, based on this information, the bet is reinforced on seeds of different species, whether at Herdade do Couto da Várzea - ​​where nurseries, tunnels, among other terrestrial infrastructures, serve to support the trade practiced in the company - or with other farmers. "There are more and more people wanting to work with us, so the partnerships are not just from here, even because there are Portuguese people around the world who order our seeds".

Three years after the foundation of Sementes Vivas, the chickens at Herdade do Couro da Várzea come into action. The aim is to control pests and, at the same time, fertilize the land, which in turn provides them with food and the necessary food for human life. “It is a kind of closed-cycle that prevents, as much as possible, the use of external inputs”, concludes Tânia Pinto, extolling the ‘Demeter’ certification associated with biodynamic agriculture.

In parallel, Sementes Vivas has been working directly with INIAV (National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research), to provide data and studies related to the improvement of crops made through the recovery of varieties, “to re-register, produce and multiply” biological and biodynamic seeds in Portugal.

Diversity also makes it possible to boost the creative side of Sementes Vivas. For the curious, it is recommended to search the two special lines available on the website - 'Benfica', for friends and supporters of this football club, and 'Heritage', consisting of a kit and traditional seeds, and made in honour of the country's biological heritage. The list of novelties includes the sale of a starter kit from Sementes Vivas and wooden vases from Spawnfoam, a company from Vila Real, which already contains duly identified seeds and, according to Tânia Pinto, “can be placed directly on the previously placed soil in another vessel”.

The products will be available in the online store of the website, through which we can all order seeds to transform the balcony or terrace into a homemade mini vegetable garden. Besides, the seeds are available for sale in agricultural houses, tourist spots and food and garden retail.