Terracrua Design’s project “Sítio das Alagoas” is a multi-faceted agricultural and rural tourism venture, part of the “Casa de Campo” group.

With such a diversity of functions, it was important to balance and define the parameters of both the agricultural and tourism aspects of the project.

The 5.7 hectare property, although mostly flat, presents several challenges. The plan includes agricultural areas, forests, scenic pathways, and careful management of water, which, in this project, is specific to the topography and soil type.

This is a low-lying area where a large portion of the land is flooded (Alagoas) during the winter months. A stream runs through the northern third of the property, and irrigation canals are present at two of its extremes.

Water and the flat topography of the land are two of the key elements of this region that attract many people, but they can also present challenges. With waterlogging during a significant portion of the year and little slope for surface water to drain, the results can be prohibitive for livestock farmers (mud, compaction, etc.), fruit growers (rot and excess water in the roots of certain species), and horticulturists who cannot enter their flooded plots early in the spring, even though the weather is favorable for the development of agricultural crops.

It is based on these characteristics, which carry significant weight in this region, that a structural vegetation plan has been proposed to manage surface water more efficiently (through the proper placement of vegetation) and as naturally as possible (by following ecological principles such as the use of low-impact techniques, natural materials, and planting on contour lines or in strategic zones, among others).

This series of structural vegetation, which in Permaculture Design represents a compromise between Zone 5 (ecological functions) and Zone 4 (long-term economic functions), includes the following types of vegetation:

A – Boundaries hedges: along irrigation canals to take advantage of the ecosystem created there and along other boundaries, both to create privacy, shade, and enhance the quality of the landscape.

B – Wetland buffer: this is the “buffer” vegetation between the agricultural space and the wettest part of the property.

C – “Wet zone”: This area is the wettest part of the land, as evidenced by specific vegetation types and the accumulation of water and the formation of puddles. It is derived from topographic depression adjacent to the water line, but not only that: soil characteristics also influence this quality.

Given its unique conditions (flooded in winter and dry in summer, with hydromorphic, heavy soils, etc.), it is suggested that the potential of this micro-ecosystem be exploited, as wetlands, both large and small, provide very valuable ecological functions and services (retaining, filtering, purifying, and regulating the water cycle, benefiting fauna and microfauna, etc.).

Another factor to consider is that this area may be more expensive in terms of energy and resources for cultivation. The proposal is therefore relatively “conservationist” for this area, with minimal intervention and a strategy oriented toward ecological conservation and/or natural regeneration with minimal assistance.

D – Riparian hedge: Our favorite! We will only mention that this hedge was designed based on the phytosociological basis of southern riparian galleries and thickets of bay laurels and tamarisks, to which we decided to associate a mosaic of typical species from the swamp forest.

The Sítio das Alagoas project is a perfect example of Terracrua Design’s principles and vision, as it seeks to integrate and balance the needs of agriculture and tourism.