In a society where we talk more and more about organic agriculture, respect for our planet, sustainability, today we want to talk to you about a project that has made these issues a real mission. This is the project of André Maciel.
Originally from Setubal, André has always shown a great sensitivity towards nature. After studying “Design do equipamento” (Design of equipment) in Setubal, he begins to devote himself to the realization of projects with recycled materials.
In this project and passion, his family will always be present, in particular his brother and his best friend who will support him in this adventure right away.
And this is how his first Purisimpl project was born in 2013.
André firmly believes that it is possible to be self-sustainable, create a small ecosystem and produce our own food.
Behind the idea of this project there is a very strong personal story, the name itself hides it. Purisimpl: puri from purifição, which not only means purification, but which was also the name of André’s mother who died prematurely following a tumor when André was only 13 years old. He recalls that in the last period there had been an improvement precisely following the fact that his mother had begun to follow an organic and healthy diet. For André it had been a signal; he begins to think about how this and other diseases are closely related to nutrition.
Organic products existe from a long time but are often too expensive for most of the population. So André’s idea is “Why not make sure that we produce the foods we need ourselves?”
It is precisely to follow his passion that in 2015 André leaves for Coimbra where he studies Organic Agriculture and, after a period of pause in which he dedicates himself to other things, he dedicated himself again to his project.
The basic idea is to be able to create organic food for everyone and within everyone’s reach, counting on everyone’s participation in the production of our food, using the energy of the earth, creating a real small ecosystem within the city. What is called Permaculture.
Today there is a lot of talk about saving our planet, respecting it and looking for ways to take care of it. André began very young to pursue this idea, at first even taken little seriously by those who considered him a young boy who was running after a utopia.
Although today this is his job, for André it was and is a real mission to “educate” people to a completely different kind of life and relationship with the planet.
André defines himself as an activist in some way, and his project is a real movement in which he firmly believes.
For this to work, for this new way of life to reach as many people as possible, it is first of all necessary that everything be simple (hence the second part of the name Purisimpl) almost a return to initial simplicity. We have to go back to understanding simple things, put our hands in the ground, go back to feeling this bond with the land itself.
Three pillars are those on which this project is based: Believe in it, Act, Evolve.
And the life of André and the growth of his project is based precisely on this. Believe it fully, even when no one believed it, even when the idea of him seemed like a utopia, a vague illusion; act by concretely putting into practice what he believes in and showing others, through his concrete example of him, that all this is possible; Evolve, continue to grow on this path.
André’s life met Lisbon in 2017 and three years later, in 2020, a new project is born, a new seed from the mother plant that continues to be the Purisimpl.
André dedicates himself to the urban gardens of Lisbon with the idea of encouraging and motivating people to create their own garden at home.
And this is how the Hortas LX project was born. André has also created a Facebook and Instagram page with the aim of giving some advice to people who are starting to approach this new reality.
A great boost to this project is given precisely by the period of crisis in which we live. This era of pandemic has awakened in many people the desire to take back our planet, to do something concrete, and also to learn how to produce on their own what is most needed.
The motto of the Hortas LX project is “taking care of what will take care of us”, which is our nutrition.
But what is most striking about this project is the fact that around the creation of the garden a real small company is created, where not necessarily everyone must be able to plant their own garden, because maybe there will be someone who will plant it for him. What really matters is that everyone works together for a common project. An idea of mutual aid to give rise to a better society.
Today Hortas LX is an important project, with consultation services, workshops.
There is also a school, which relies on the realization of its lessons, in the sports club of Campolide, and which was created by Fundoambiente, the “Escola a compostar” (composting school) which now has 500 registrations and offers live and online courses.
There are planted also vegetable gardens within companies and André is in charge of creating and managing the teams that will take care of these spaces. It starts by planting the garden in a common area of the company and then, a monthly meeting to deepen each time a different theme and at the same time help in the management of the space, which, in an environment where we often have a cold routine, becomes a small oasis to take care of, where we work together, where we collaborate in the realization of a common project, an alternative way to create that group work, the team, which is so important in companies.
André welcomes us to the “Underground Village” where his office is today, in a co-working environment. A place, but also a challenge: in a space made of stone and ancient buses, today the containers where the offices are located, the challenge is to transform it into a green environment, through its gardens.
André is also a grower of Noocity, creators of the intelligent pots that surround the buses where André built some gardens where everything produced is used in the kitchen of the village restaurant.
And the gardens we see in the village are truly extraordinary: aromatic plants, edible flowers, vegetables and fruit of various types. A truly incredible world. And in front of two Italians like me and Alex, André can’t resist and prepares us the most fragrant bouquet that can exist: that of basil.
Today André’s greatest satisfaction is that of having convinced those who accused him of being a dreamer, of having shown that what he was fighting for could become reality, and that it has become a concrete reality. And even more so to see many of those people today interested in what André does with his projects.
After all, this project is the image of André, who worked by giving him an example, showing that it was possible to do what he was talking about. And today there is a bit of him in all the projects he has created.
There are city gardens in Porto, Setubal, as well as in Lisbon. New gardens have been planted in schools, businesses and even people’s homes.
But what continues to give André the most joy and satisfaction is when he finds himself with his plants, with his hands in the ground and in contact with nature.
What André tries to do through his various projects and his work is above all to pass the message, a concrete message that says that we can really take care of our planet and our future, but we can do it concretely, through a return to simplicity, to earth, to our hands in the ground. To really take care, as André says, of what will take care of us.