We're Krister, Miranda, and Tor, our thirteen-year-old son, who likes cats and ants and reads a lot. In 2015 we moved to Quinta do Veloso and began restoring it as both a working farm and a beautiful, peaceful place with an amazing sense of history. We produce quality organic olive oil from our 15-hectare organic olival, which also serves as a valuable natural environment, but we are also restoring the quinta's buildings, its citrus grove and fruit trees, and its Moorish irrigation system, and creating new plantings and gardens. Wwoofers here live with us as part of our small community, so a cooperative, open, friendly, and engaged attitude is important to us. We have found the best wwoofers here to be those who develop a sense of personal satisfaction and pride in their contribution to the quinta.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW
In spring we're largely focused on the gardens (the vegetable garden, the aromatic dry garden, the orange grove, other fruit trees, and roses)—planting trees and vegetables, mulching, weeding, irrigating, and harvesting. There are always a few construction or renovation projects, and we're embarking on a new endeavor, making olive oil soap, for which we'll also be collecting herbs and orange blossom for hydrosols. At this time of year things are pretty relaxed; we typically have between 1 and 3 wwoofers. Our quinta is for those who want to do physical work and be an active part of a small friendly community in a tranquil place surrounded by nature. Since we both have freelance work, being fairly self-reliant at times is necessary. We appreciate those who love to cook, and carpentry or construction experience is useful, but not required. If you have the desire to work and a friendly helpful attitude, you can find work here that suits your tastes and skills.
In high summer the vegetable garden is a big focus, and there are capers and figs to harvest and preserve, as well. Later, in early fall, we harvest almonds, pomegranates, walnuts, and various other fruits.
October is olive harvest time, so most work is on the harvesting team, though there is other work to do for a break. We usually have more wwoofers as well as Portuguese workers at this time. It's hard work, but a lot of fun. After (and occasionally during) harvest we will be planting and pruning trees, taking care of and harvesting from the vegetable garden, and working on the quinta's buildings.
WORK AND EXPECTATIONS
We ask that volunteers work 30 hours a week—most often 5 days a week, 6 hours a day. Usually the schedule can be flexible, depending on weather and season, but we expect real committed work during the hours we've agreed on, in fairness to us and other volunteers. At olive harvest time, to coordinate with our regular harvest crew, the workday is longer, but you can take half days off, and it's fine to take a break from the harvest (we can always use people to support the harvest by cooking or taking care of the gardens, for example). There is a very wide range of work possible, most, but not all, of it quite physical. Though we are flexible, we need everyone to have a reasonably regular schedule and work equal hours in the interest of fairness. Please don’t come if your main focus is not on the experience of physical work outdoors, or if you don’t actually enjoy that work. However, there are always less taxing or indoors jobs to do for a break.
We have a lot to do ourselves, so we'll need help with community tasks like cooking, cleaning up after meals, and shopping. This usually works out naturally—if you like to cook, that’s great (if you really like to cook and be creative, that might be part of your wwoof job, along with taking care of the garden and harvesting); if you prefer to shop or wash up, that’s fine too, we just have to figure out how to make it work between us.
We are committed to managing our land in a responsible way and creating a range of natural habitats, but we're not very dogmatic, and though our ultimate goal is energy self-sufficiency, we're nowhere near there yet. We are more interested in the history of the place, the ethics of caring for a piece of land and all the life on it, and eating local/seasonal than in theories of being off-grid or radical. We find that there are always hard decisions and compromises, and that black-and-white thinking does not always match the challenges of finding the most ethical and environmental path in the real world. We have spent a lot of time thinking about these challenges
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
We don't (at the moment) have one dedicated wwoof housing space but use various spaces within the quinta complex, in various stages of renovation. There you will be sheltered from the weather, the thick stone walls make the buildings cool in the summer, and most have electricity, but don't expect luxury. If you are interested, you might help us improve a space, or work on a small apartment that will ultimately be devoted to wwoofers. Tent camping is also possible, and there are pretty camping spots. If you have your own van/caravan or tent, that's great.
We supply food for three meals, and snacks if needed. We are not rigid about diet but try to eat local and fresh within reason, with lots of vegetables. We grill outside whenever we can. Typically we supply whatever food you want to fix yourself for lunch and dinner (though volunteers for making lunch or breakfast for all are always welcome!). We eat dinner together, and expect wwoofers to share in some way with cooking and/or cleaning/other community work (on a rota if that's necessary, more casually if that works out), with possible exceptions for those working hard on very demanding projects. We are pretty adventurous about different cuisines and foods and like to cook.
*IMPORTANT: We are happy to try to accommodate vegetarians and most other special dietary needs. We can’t cook a different meal for each wwoofer, but we can provide materials for whatever you want to cook on your own, and adapt at least part of each meal. We like vegetarian food, but there will be meat, dairy, etc. around. The very rigid or judgmental are not a good fit here, and after many attempts to make it work, we are no longer accepting vegans.
WHAT WE NEED HELP WITH
We have a vegetable garden, a dry Mediterranean garden, roses and other ornamentals, nearly a hundred citrus trees, and many other fruit trees to care for. Depending on the time of year, this can involve watering, pruning, weeding, planting, propagating, and harvesting (vegetables most of the year; oranges and other citrus in several waves through the year; plums in late spring; figs, apples, and pears in the summer; and pomegranates, walnuts, and almonds in the early fall, among others).
In October, harvest time, the olival is the main focus. The rest of the year the olives may need pruning, and the olival needs to be kept free of brambles and oak scrub.
We would like to bring the Moorish irrigation system fed by our wonderful nora—two large water tanks, a small square pool, a section of arched aqueduct and smaller conduits, and mysterious underground tunnels and channels—back into working order. We are also working on restoring neglected parts of the quinta's building complex, including the huge outdoor bread oven, gatehouse, and a little chapel. Our Portuguese helpers can teach Wwoofers how to repair, plaster, and lime-wash stone walls the traditional way. We are also interested in laying cobblestone in the front courtyard and in other places, and building an outdoor kitchen with small bread oven. We would like to build a small stone view tower at the top of the olival, with a small room below, for low-impact camping.
Someone with carpentry experience could help us with doors and windows, with shade structures for vines, with shelves or cabinets, or even with more fun projects like a tree house or deck. Experience with solar (we are just installing our first panel on the gatehouse), electric, or plumbing is always a plus.
Late fall is planting season. We are constantly adding new fruit and nut trees (at present we have orange, lemon, clementine, grapefruit, blood orange, apple, pear, plum, young peaches and nectarines, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, persimmon, pomegranate, grape, and nespera, and we're experimenting with avocado and mango).
We have started a few hop vines, which we hope will cover our garden shade house and hopefully provide hops for brewing our own beer (we like a good IPA). Any experience with or interest in brewing is welcome.
We have begun to make olive oil soap, and we have an alembic still for making hydrosols (herbs and orange blossom). We are still learning, but soon hope to be producing soap on a slightly larger scale.
Our neighbor grazes his sheep on our land. Our great wwoofers have reroofed an old stone outbuilding as a henhouse, and we have 8 hens laying well, plus one goofy rooster. We also hope to start a colony of bees this spring.
Veloso is very much a work in progress, but it's already an enchanting, peaceful place with a sense of history, perched on a hill with a grand view of the mountains of Spain. There's an amazing variety of plant and bird life, and often the only sounds are birdsong, insects, and sheep bells. On hot days, the pool is very nice, and the pool house is a great place to relax (though we need to give AirBnB guests space there too). We enjoy walking in the olival, or to the village of Varche.
We like playing boules in the grape-covered allee, croquet in the laranjal, or darts in our front courtyard (aka the "outdoor pub"), grilling by the pool, late swims, board games at night, or (when the fire season is over) bonfires in the olival. There's good wifi freely available in the pool house and some other outdoor areas as well as the house.
We're 4 km from Elvas, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its amazing fortifications, and the enchanted fortress towns of Marvao and Monsaraz are easy day trips. We enjoy expeditions with wwoofers. Those who drive may be able to borrow a car for occasional trips on days off or for shopping.
When can you visit this host?