National Geographic : 1959 Mar
Incredible Labor Carved This Mountain into a Staircase of Tiny Farm Plots Overpopulated Madeira uses every foot of arable land, most of it lying on precipitous slopes. Mortarless stone walls, some of them 25 feet high, enclose patches as small as a tabletop. Cabbages or sweet potatoes planted beneath high-trellised vines give growers an extra crop. Carving the terraces by hand, Madeira's farmers scrape away the topsoil, level the bed rock, and build a retaining wall. Finally the soil is spread back. Steep slopes rule out the use of mechanized equipment; the standard tool is a heavy mat tocklike hoe. Farm wife carries a sickle to cut grass for her cow. She imprisons the beast in a thatched stable (page 382) lest it eat her cabbages or fall off a terrace. Farmers convoy a heifer fore and aft to a vaccination center near Camara de Lobos. 376 KODACHROMESBY B. ANTHONYSTEWART(TOP AND OPPOSITE) AND DAVIDS. BOYER, NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSTAFF ) N.G .S .