Casa Agrícola da Levada is family owned and managed, and we strive to make the estate as ecological and self-sustainable as possible.
We are aware of the amount of waste and residues typically produced by the hotel industry, and we reject this business model.
Ecology is our mission (Green Mission, our blog) and we go way beyond the current environmental legislation. In 2021, we emitted 19,332 tons of CO2. Subtracting this from the 80,000 annual tons our trees capture makes us a carbon-negative territory. In the past five years, we have reduced the volume of waste produced by 60% and, with the help of solar panels, we produce 35% of the electricity we consume. Find out more at Eco Passport.
Waste reduction and management has always been a top priority for us. We implemented a few very
simple measures to cut down refuse by 60%:
- About 40% of the fruit and vegetables our family and guests consume is grown in our garden and orchards, thus eliminating unnecessary transport and packaging.
- We began our canning workshops in 2021, in an effort to prolong the shelf life of our fruit and vegetables. Watch our videos at Green Mission.
- We provide shampoo, shower gel and soap in dispensers, never individually wrapped items.
- We have two recycling points (plastic, paper, glass, lightbulbs, corks, batteries and coffee capsules) and composting boxes, which separates organic residue into compost and food for our chickens and rabbits.
- We encourage our guests to use them with several activities in our Eco-Levada program.
- We have replaced minibars in the rooms and have reduced packaging by opening our Honesty Shop, where you can find fine wines and local produce from small, organic producers, as well as environmentally-friendly toiletries.
- We produce our own cleaning products, scented with lavender and citrus from our grounds.
- We do not sell carbonated drinks, only water and beer in returnable glass bottles from a local supplier.
- We do not use paper napkins, plastic straws, cups or cutlery, or any single-use packaging.
- We limit paper use with digital documents, invoices and receipts.
Plans for 2022-2024: creating an art studio that will further reduce waste by using recycled materials in our creativity sessions.
Water and Energy
- Part of the electricity used at Levada is produced from photovoltaic solar panels. In this way, 35% of the total energy we used in 2021 did not contribute to our carbon footprint. That’s an extra 130 days of
clean energy annually. In the height of summer, we’re able to produce 10 hours of clean energy in a day, 65% of our daily consumption.
- Our rooms are not air-conditioned. We provide fans in summer. With their one-metre (three-foot) wide granite walls, wooden shutters and double-glazed windows, our room are always cool, even on the hottest days.
- In winter, along with central heating, all rooms and houses have a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, fuelled by firewood from our forest.
- The gardens and pool are watered from our rainwater reservoirs. Excess water flows into the river. We store around 260 cubic metres (60,000 gallons) of rainwater for our gardens and pool.
- We inspect and monitor water consumption on a weekly basis, repairing leaks as soon as we detect them; and we keep water consumption to a minimum with low flush toilets and low flow nozzles on all taps.
Plans for 2022-2024: We are recovering 7 of the 14 granite water tanks on the property and will connect them gravitationally. In 2021, we will build an additional water tank/swimming pool, increasing our well and rainwater storage capability to 800 cubic metres.
- A great deal of our time and energy is devoted to tending Levada’s 6.7 hectares/16.5 acres of gardens, vegetable patches, orchards, vineyards and woods.
- We use organic fertilizer from our composting and locally sourced goat and rabbit manure.
- We haven’t used chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides or fungicides for over ten years. Consequently, Levada is now home to a rare species of firefly, as well as red squirrels (previously extinct in Portugal), frogs, toads, wall and eyed lizards, turtle doves, golden orioles, moles, hedgehogs, ferrets, otters and wild boars.
- We promote biodiversity by planting a wide assortment of fruit and flowering plants, providing year-round food for birds and bees.
- We allow all wild seedlings to grow between our vine rows. These semi-wild areas are the habitat and a food source for countless living organisms, increasing Levada’s biodiversity.
- About 40% of breakfast and evening snack foods come from our organic orchard and vegetable garden.
Plans for 2022-2024:
- Replacing many invasive plants with native trees and shrubs (strawberry trees, bay trees, oak trees and many others) thereby enriching our ecosystem, developing new habitats, increasing the storage capacity for CO2 in our small territory and providing food and shelter for our native animal species. Another landscape improvement!
- Redesigning the vegetable garden and orchard and introducing permanent plants to attract pollinators and control pests. Another step towards permaculture!
We are deeply committed to environmental tourism, and encourage our guests to make the most of Levada’s environment and to explore Nature all around us.
We offer guests several custom-designed maps with local activities (walks on the grounds as well as Vila Real, Mateus, the botanical gardens, the Douro and the Alvão Nature Reserve), with public transport, cycling and hiking details. Maps are available in Reception upon your arrival.
Plans for 2022-2024:
- Opening an art studio for our guests to create art with recycled materials.
Acquiring mountain bikes for guest use.
- Levelling the inclination of the River Walk, increasing it by 1,5 km/1 mile, so that hiking and cycling along it will be even harder to resist;
- Increase our signage describing the flora, fauna and historical buildings, with a total of 300 multilingual signs. We will include an estimate of CO2 stored in the trunks and roots of our centennial trees.
- Designing maps of cycle routes and other activities accessible by public transport and bicycle.
- Creating a Passport for 8 to 12-year-olds, awarding a stamp for each goal attained. You can see the first draft here: Passport
- Creating an Activity Notebook to record the adventures you have with us.
- Building observation posts for otter and birdwatching on the banks of the Corgo River. Some rare species, like the white-throated dipper and the kingfisher, can be seen in Levada.
- Acquiring an electric six-seater car for rides along Levada’s river, so that our younger guests or those with restricted mobility can see our grounds.
Housekeeping and Maintenance
- We change bed and bath linens every four days and we air-dry all our laundry, weather permitting.
- Sheets and towels are 100% cotton, so we avoid adding microplastic to our waterways and oceans.
- All washing machines operate on low temperature and short cycles, with clean energy when it is sunny.
- All cleaning products used at Levada are eco-certified. We make some of them ourselves with natural products like vinegar, perfumed with lavender, lemon peel and orange peel from our garden and orchard.
- We only use LED lamps.
Plans for 2022-2024: Acquiring an electric car to assist our staff and guests with restricted mobility;