Bevindo a Quinta do Barbeito
========================= Key Concepts =====================
Forest gardening - Working with nature - Multi-functional solutions - Underutilised species - Synergy - Composting - Diversified habitat - Fungus culture - Pest predation - Waste not - Polycultures - No-dig - Soil building - Swales, berms & gabions - Vermiculture
What we´re doing
The long-term goal of this farm is to become self sufficient in food production, using perennial crops, without synthetic chemicals, by creating an informal garden of beauty that requires minimal maintenance and is based on sound ecological principles.
We were father and son renting an abandoned vineyard, one half of which we spent 6 years turning into a forest garden, and the other half into an ornamental food garden, applying many of the design principles of Permaculture. With the main structure mostly complete, we made a good start. Since my dear father's recent death, I am more determined than ever to see our vision brought to fruition.
The upper terraces of the vineyard are for the forest garden which includes a wide assortment of perennial food producing plants with supporting plant communities and fauna that increase ecological robustness thus reducing pests and diseases. The lower terraces nearer the house are restricted to scented or edible plants only, arranged with aesthetics in mind for visual beauty and olfactory delight throughout the seasons.
In designing the farm's conversion, we tried to read and follow the natural succession that was already taking place and incorporate habitats of similar ecological character into our design, but reformulated and replanted in a way that would be more useful to us - and more manageable.
The farm is on a low budget so we've grown trees from seed or bought one plant and then propagated it. The vision we had for the farm is slowly beginning to materialise. Some of the trees and bamboos that we grew from seed are now taller than me :-) but many are still only knee height :-|
What you can learn here
I have an extensive knowledge of plants. My father was head gardener and I am the initiator of a botanic garden project that is currently being developed in the region. As well as having read many books within the Permaculture movement, I was taught by Geoff Lawton and Bill Mollison. At the farm, we try to apply Permaculture principles to everything we do. You are also welcome to read the books here on plants and Permaculture .
Who I am looking for
I welcome applications from adults from 20 to 70 years old, who are also eager to learn and to share their knowledge, to contribute, and to pull their weight with both the fun and the un-fun tasks. If you have useful skills like carpentry, I would be delighted to see you put them to good use.
You are prepared to work 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. You really can't experience the reality of farm life with any less. (Our working day can be as much as 12 hours). Work times will vary a lot, depending on the sun, rain and nature of tasks. Flexibility. Normally I´ll ask you to do about 3 hours before lunch and 3 hours after. Most WWOOFers have gladly done much more, which is WONDERFUL, but I respect you keeping track of your day and choosing to stop after 6 hours.
Short stays require too much induction time, so plan for no less than 8 days, please. On longer stays you learn more and do more varied and interesting tasks. Long stays are always contingent on properly done work and all of us getting along well .
I prefer to receive people who want to come here because they are interested in the farm's vision and knowledge base, and who plan longer stays rather than travellers who feel like a short visit before moving on.
I try to be gentle if asking for changes to work you have done, but you do need to be able to accept alterations or critique without becoming defensive or angry.
In peak season there's about one request per day from WWOOFers who are trying to plan their time. So, early and exact dates are very helpful for all of us to make the best use of WWOOFing opportunities.
- - - - - - - - -
I don’t accept dogs, cigarettes or recreational drugs, indoors or outdoors, anywhere on the property. Sorry. Alcohol in moderation is fine in the evening.
In your initial contact
1) Skype name, mobile phone, land-line phone, e-mail (all those you have)
2) dates you would be available
3) a good sized photo of yourself (easiest to post it in your profile)
4) why Quinta do Barbeito appeals to you
5) what skills and knowledge you have to offer
6) what you would most enjoy doing
7) whether you have a tent or will need a bed in the house
8) dietary constraints
9) the contact details of farms you have volunteered or WWOOFed at before.
'Blanket' enquiries from WWOOFers with no profile, sent to umpteen hosts, leave me cold. I like communicative people who are interested in the things we're doing.
Any skills or experience you may bring with you are a welcome bonus, certainly not an expectation. I only ask about skills to help in planning possible task delegations, and about previously WWOOFed farms for a character reference. So if you have skills that I don't, then we can discuss ways you might enjoy applying them so that others can learn from you.
My father and I had many visits from friends and family, most of whom were completely unskilled in a farm context and yet they successfully contributed in a way that we still appreciate.
I try to be very, very clear about tasks. However, what may seem obvious to me may not be to you. Don't feel silly asking. ALWAYS ask if you are unsure about details. Stop working if you become unsure. The details DO matter. They matter a lot. You can easily and quickly destroy or kill something that has taken years to accomplish.
WWOOFer X was shown the task of weeding an Iris & Thyme bed. The Thyme had taken 4 years to dominate a weedy bank. X was shown; "These are Irises, these are Thyme bushes. The rest are weeds, pull them out." X felt unsure about some plants s/he was pulling out but continued anyway.
X pulled all the weeds and all the Thyme. The Irises survived.
Apart from 4 times longer to replant the thyme than yank it out, the bank will now need watering every week all through the summer and weeding 4 times as often for two years at least. In 30 minutes WWOOFer X created 30 hours of extra work for us.
As part of a larger task WWOOFer Y was requested to pull out a 30 cm tall Laural seedling, pointed at and wiggled by me to identify it. As work proceeded Y became unsure about which plant to pull out and asked WWOOFer Z.
Z helps Y to dig out a 2 meter tall, 5 year old strawberry tree (Arbutus).
We'll now have to wait another 6 years before the replacement plant fruits.
!!! ALWAYS ask ME if you are unsure !!!
Especially if what you are doing is not reversible.
There is no heating so the temperature in this thick-walled granite house depends on the weather over the last few days. This is unpredictable in late Autumn through to Spring. The indoor temperature drops slowly from 20 degrees in late October down to about 14 in mid-December. Don't come in January unless you're an old-fashioned Viking; It's too cold indoors. From February indoor temperatures rise again slowly back up to18 in April.
The Wash Spot is outdoors (see Gallery). On sunny days hot water, up to 72 Centigrade in Summer and 30 in Winter, comes from a black tube on the garage roof. No sun ==> no hot water ==> a trip to the local bath house for a shower every few days.
The lavatory (indoors) is flushed with a bucket of water. Drinking water is collected from our spring.
There are three single rooms and one double room for guests/WWOOFers.
Normally we’ll eat together. Breakfast is usually porridge and yoghurt. Either lunch or dinner is a cooked meal. The other is usually cold left-overs or bread with toppings. I try to adapt food content to your dietary constraints. I do not provide alcoholic drinks.
The farm is delightfully liberated from television. Please, always use headphones if you play music, or else sing it.
Here are most of the tasks that I may ask you do WITH me or FOR me depending on your aptitudes and my work load. These are all tasks that I would normally do myself but never seem to have enough time for.
OUTDOOR routine tasks
• Weeding, particularly pulling brambles
• Preparing wood for chipping
• Looking after the geese and ducks and training chicks to eat specific weeds
• Propagation of a wide range of plants
• Occasional errands to the local shop or in town
INDOOR routine tasks
• Laying and clearing the table
• Looking up information in our books or on the Internet
If there are any of these tasks you would not accept doing or learning, then please state this in your initial contact with us.
Project tasks 2013 and 2014
* Extending the irrigation pipes (80% done)
* Construct a solar cooker
* Participating in swale construction
* Construct a rock garden (30% done)
* Dig and seal a pond (25% done)
* Filling gabions with rocks (done)
* Laying logs to delimit paths
* Building a ceramic heater (pending delivery of iron parts)
* Build a composting loo house in super-adobe
* Bio-gas digester for a methane stove
* Laying stone paths
* Link terraces with flights of tyre steps (6 of 10 done)
* Build top-bar bee hives (1 of 5 done)
Tasks are organised according their relative priority. This is determined by the needs of the farm, the time of year, the weather, and the aptitudes of current WWOOFers.
Although, imparting useful knowledge to WWOOFers is one of my objectives, it is secondary to fulfilling the needs of the farm and getting work done.
Some WWOOFers hope to learn everything they want to know in 8 days and pressure me to compensate for their short stay with extra opportunities to watch others working, or with explanations of things they wanted to experience.
If you have a particular interest in one of the tasks I will remember your request when delegating relevant tasks when the time comes to do them. The likelihood that you will get to do a requested task increases the longer you stay, as does the likelihood that your stay will coincide with a detailed guided tour of the garden.
Bring with you
You are advised to bring work clothes and footwear suitable for combat with the less friendly of the weeds, as well as
* Sun hat
* Sun screen
* Tough, thorn-proof gardening gloves
* If you don't want to transport wellies (rubber boots), you can buy cheap ones at the local market but only up to size 45. There might be some leaking ones left by visitors that fit you.
* Tough rain coat and warm clothes (Nov-April)
* Lap-top computer if you want to use the Internet (unfortunately no Internet in house at the moment. Only in town)
Upon arrival, I ask all WWOOFers to to allow me to copy the ID page in your passport and to sign the WWOOF agreement as formulated by WWOOF Portugal:
Though I'd like to be 100%, I have yet to arrive at sufficiently efficient alternatives to some non-organic solutions. So I sometimes might protect some seedlings with slug pellets, those seedlings that I know from experience snails gormandize, but only ever in the nursery. I also use synthetic rooting hormone, though Salix will be replacing this once it has grown enough.
The farm is an old vineyard and lies 300 meters above sea level facing South on the North side of the Lima Valley. The land is terraced with granite pillared pergolas along the terrace walls, characteristic of this region.
The nearest town, Arcos de Valdevez, is 4 km away and 250 meters below us, which makes it an easy walk down, but a demanding walk back. During term time there is a school bus which accepts paying passengers.
The local shop went bankrupt because people here prefer to shop at big Supermarkets. I don’t. We buy from the locals what we can. There are vendor vans several times a week selling bread, milk, fish, and vegetables. We are still far from being self-sufficient. But one day …
In 2011 less than 30% of those who contacted the farm actually committed to a date; and about 50% of those who committed to a date ended up cancelling shortly before that date; and about 5% of those who committed to a date simply didn't show up and didn't tell us, and 10% of those who did turn up cut their stay short in order to go sight-seeing.
Apart from all the unrewarded effort to answer enquiries fully and promtly, no-show WWOOFers waste opportunities because as soon as dates are agreed with one WWOOFer other interested WWOOFers will be refused, due to our limited space. With about one enquiry per day in Summer, this means a lot of WWOOFers who were refused, could have come after all.
So, please, don't commit unless you genuinely ARE committed.
And this year three people turned up on different occasions who believed WWOOFing is like a relaxed holiday with lots of opportunities to go on site-seeing trips, contemplate nature, socialise with the locals, play cards, and watch films. It is isn't. These three departed after a day or two, leaving spaces empty that other WWOOFers with a real commitment could have filled, other WWOOFers that I had turned away because we were fully booked. These three irresponsible tourists effectively:
1) excluded 3 serious WWOOFers and
2) denied us 3 weeks of help.
PLEASE !!!!! do not book with us if you want a cheap touring holiday and place to stay with a pretty view. This is a working farm with about 3 times more WWOOFers who'd like to book a place here than we can accommodate. This is NOT a youth hostel where you can come and go as you please.
If you want a quick-fix-intro to Permaculture to satisfy your curiosity, read a book or go on a course. Don't waste our induction time getting a guided tour of our land only to inform us after a day that you are leaving. If an 8 day minimum stay is too much, find another farm.
I hope that I have now made the point sufficiently clear. Sorry if this sounds harsh.
WWOOFers who have stayed with us (reverse chronology)
Eline Polling, 2 weeks
Leonardo feira, 8 days
Maria Lucia Leite, 1 month
Gonçalo Victorino, 3 weeks
Yärker Vaderman, 1 month
Nicklas Petersen, 1 month
Nikolas Linck, 2 weeks
Loius Kitchen, 3 weeks
Laurence Ford, 2½ weeks
Tibault Guilliot, 2 weeks
Charlotte Faulhaber, 2 weeks
Pietro Puopolo, 3 weeks
Saúl de Vincente Quezjeiro, 10 days
Valerie Christiansen, 3 weeks
Brittany Eaton, 3 weeks
Yuval Gelber, 2 weeks
Helen Zou, 1 month
Nuno Oliveira, 2 weeks
Pedro Nunes 2 weeks
Emma Dibben, 2 weeks
Mark Fish, 2 weeks
Davi Lira, 8 days
Giovanni Dolci, 2 weeks
Maryline Costa, 2 weeks
Arnaldo Zayes, 2 weeks
Carla Golden, 1 week
Bruno Fedi, 2 months
Thijs Grolle, 1 month, returned for 2 weeks
Ana Soromenho, 1 week, returned for another 1 week.
Hugo Gressard, 2 weeks
Sergio Veiga, 2 weeks
Chris & Des Grey, 2 weeks
Thomas Gremmen, 1 month
Dennis McNamara, 2½ months
Raj Sewdith, 2 weeks
Kim Martel, 9 days
Janko Teckemeier, 2 weeks
Julia Eichler, 10 days
Alexis Kunzak, 10 days
Christopher Bradburn, 3 weeks
Helder Pereira, 3 weeks
When can you visit Quinta do Barbeito?
Domestic Geese, Ducks, Quail, Bees
English, Swedish, Portuguese, Bad(Dutch,German,French)
Varied, but low meat consumption
Preferred visit length
Several weeks. Minimum of 8-days
We check messages
e-mail Fridays only, but mobile txt daily
Preferred period of visit
Late Spring, Summer, Early Autumn
We grow and collect seeds for our own use
We produce renewable energy (wind, Sun etc)
We produce our own feed for our animals