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Quinta do Barbeito opens for WWOOFers from 20th March, 2016.
======== 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
==== Current & Pending Projects ====
* Laying cobbles
* Solar food drier
* Rocket mass heater
* Planning & preparing for earth-bag building
* Solar cooker
* Ceramic heater
* Bio-char retort
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 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 worked 15 years as a 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 .There is no tuition as such, but as and when I delegate tasks I explain relevant background and justifications from a scientific or practical perspective for why and how tasks should be done, and answer relevant questions.
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.
The farm is unsuited to children, there are too many ways they can seriously harm themselves or the property. To qualify for my farm, you need to be 20 or over. Sorry, no exceptions.
´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. I no longer accept WWOOFers who turn up without sending an enquiry beforehand.
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.
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.
Short stays require too much social and practical induction time, so plan for, and commit to no less than 8 days, please. Anyway, longer stays entail learning more and doing more varied and interesting tasks. Long stays are always contingent on properly done work and all of us getting along well.
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. 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. It is your responsibility to tell me when you have done your 6 hours.
The non-working day is the same day for everybody - Wednesday. Please plan for this if you want to meet friends on your day off.
Because a few WWOOFers have appropriated my hospitality for their friends, I regret the need to spell this out: Volunteering does NOT confer you the right to invite your friends to come here and look around or socialise, for food or a place to sleep during their travels. This is MY HOME. I´m not a couch surfing host and this is not a tourist attraction, nor a free hostel with catering and laundry service. Your friends may come ONLY if they are...
... 1) invited by me;
... 2) are prepared to commit to the minimum stay;
... 3) join WWOOF Portugal,
Anyone who turns up without my invitation can expect to be turned away, rain or shine. Please respect my boundaries.
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. Alcohol at lunch increases the risk of personal injury, sunstroke, poor concentration and damage to tools and plants.
In your initial contact
1) your real first and last name
2) your age
3) Skype name, mobile phone, land-line phone, e-mail (all those you have)
4) dates you would be available
5) a good sized photo of yourself (easiest to post it in your profile)
6) your reason(s) for wanting to come to Quinta do Barbeito
7) what skills and knowledge you have to offer
8) what you would most enjoy doing
9) whether you have a tent or will need a bed in the house
10) dietary constraints
11) the contact details of farms you have volunteered or WWOOFed at before.
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 is still appreciated.
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 CG was shown the task of weeding an Iris & Thyme bed. The Thyme had taken 4 years to dominate a weedy bank. CG was shown; ´These are Irises, these are Thyme bushes. The rest are weeds, pull them out.´´ CG felt unsure about some plants s/he was pulling out but continued anyway.
CG 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 CG created 30 hours of extra work for us and a 4 year wait..
As part of a larger task WWOOFer Y was requested to pull out a 30 cm tall Laurel 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).
Consequence:I´ll now have to wait another 6 years before the replacement plant fruits.
WWOOFer JG was asked to to weed between two kinds of fruit bushes. 4 were grown from seed ordered from Chile because nobody in Europe sells them. I pointed these out. They were about to fruit for the first time after 5 years. WWOOFer JG was primarily focussed on the music in his iPod that he was blasting his brain with. Three people shouting his name 2 meters away didn´t grab his attention. He happily wrenched out one of the 5 year old rare fruit bushes and left it in the sun, severed roots exposed. Then, convinced no real damage was done, he later replanted the bush. It died of course.
!!! 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 comes from our spring. There are three single rooms and one double room for guests/WWOOFers.
Normally we’ll eat together. I provide simple but tasty food. Meal times tend to be later than most people are used to, but ready sooner if you help me in the kitchen. Breakfast is usually porridge and yoghurt. Either lunch or dinner is a cooked meal. The other is usually cold left-overs or soup. I try to adapt food content to your dietary constraints. I do not provide alcoholic drinks, nor expensive, unhealthy or unethical extras such as Parmesan cheese, Nutella, or bananas from South America, respectively. Some WWOOFers buy such foods for themselves.
The farm is delightfully liberated from television and other canned culture. Please, ALWAYS use headphones if you play music, or else sing it.
Here are most of the tasks that I may ask you to 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
• 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 2016 and 2017
* Extending the irrigation pipes (80% done)
* constructing gates across paths (2 of 5 done)
* Aquaponics system with polytunnel (2017)
* Construct a solar cooker (1 design done, 1 more to try)
* Solar Food Drier (currently underway)
* Participating in swale construction (2017)
* Construct a rock garden (30% done)
* Dig and seal a pond (25% done)
* Filling gabions with rocks (done)
* Laying logs to delimit paths (logs used up, more needed)
* Surfacing paths with grit harvested from storm water
* Building a ceramic heater (pending delivery of iron parts)
* Building a rocket stove
* Build a composting loo house in super-adobe (planning stage)
* Bio-gas digester for a methane stove (2017)
* Laying granite cobbles (2017)
* Link terraces with flights of tyre steps (underway, 10 of 15 done)
* Build top-bar bee hives (3 of 5 done)
* Catenary re-bar arches for climbing vegetables (9 of 12 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. 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, angry or disheartened.
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 to explain things that they won´t have time 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 and farmer’s cooporative, but only up to size 45. There might be some leaky 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.. I use synthetic rooting hormone, though Salix viminalis & S. fragilis 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. During holidays it runs Mon, Wed, Fri.
The local shop went bankrupt because people here prefer to shop at big Supermarkets. Now I have less choice. I get some food from neighbours in exhange for help them. 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. Typically 10% of those who do turn up cut their stay short in order to go sight-seeing. Please, plan for sight-seeing time OUTSIDE of the dates you book with me.
In 2016 dud bookings were 77% !
Apart from many hours of unrewarded effort to answer WWOOFers' e-mails fully and promtly, no-show or fickly defecting 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. The few WWOOFers who did honour their commitment, ended up mostly doing basic routine tasks, because there were too few people to share these and begin more interesting projects.
So, please, don't commit unless you genuinely ARE committed.
And last year three people turned up on different occasions who believed WWOOFing to be like a relaxed holiday with lots of opportunities to go on sight-seeing trips, contemplate nature, socialise with the locals, play cards, watch films, or party all night and sleep late. It is isn't. After disrupting the farm's work schedule, these WWOOFers departed early, 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 or a place to party 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, look for another farm.
I hope that I have now made the point sufficiently clear. Sorry if this sounds harsh.
86 WWOOFers who have worked here (reverse chronology). Omitted are names of those who flouted their commitment to the minimum stay.
Saul Blumberg, 7 weeks
Catarina Silva, 8 days
Mārtiņš Dakša, 4 weeks
Paulo Costa, 2 weeks
Rowena Cadney, 8 days
Nolan Starczak, 10 days
Undine Steinhoff, 6 weeks
Chris Bird, 2 weeks
Eiren Sture, 2 weeks
Sebastian Lindström, 8 days
Naya Saucedo & Matt Wright, 8 days
Katie Yates, 4 weeks
Ray Dennis, 8 days
Sophie Michelson, 3 weeks
Ashanti Harris & Heider Al-Shybani, 3 weeks
Danielle Woodley, 3 weeks
Riika Halenius, 2 weeks
Tiia Hietanen, 2 weeks
Natasha Peters, 3 weeks
Lucas Lucas Diniz de Melo Viera & Katia Baron, 1 week
Alberto Carvalha, 2½ weeks
Taylor Hodgkins, 6 weeks
Sierra Brown, 6 weeks
Sarah Weisz, 2 weeks
Cody Popejoy, 3 weeks
Sarah Dautheribes, 2 weeks
Bernardo Matos, 2 weeks
Johan Granlund, 4 weeks
Michael Ramsbottom, 3 weeks
Iolanda & Fabio, 2 weeks
Ana Pasos, 8 days
Emma Martins, 2 weeks
Alex Danswithme, 2 weeks.
Caroline Lewis, 2 weeks
Brigitte Montier, 8 days
André Vasconcelos, 2 weeks
Diana Pennink, 3 weeks
Antonio & Fatima Neto, 4 weeks, returned for 3 weeks, returned for 4 weeks
Martina Corral, 7 weeks
Monica Santos, 7 weeks
Alecia Lannan, 3 weeks
Luke Robinson, 3 weeks, returned for 2 weeks
Thomas MacWilliam, 6 weeks
Elan Weisz, 4 weeks
Inês Luz, 6 weeks
Charlene Grimm, 3 weeks
Jamison Gilmour, 2 weeks
Vincent Verheyen, 5 weeks
Eline Polling, 2 weeks
Leonardo feira, 8 days
Maria Lucia Leite, 4 weeks
Gonçalo Victorino, 3 weeks
Yaerker Andervad, 4 weeks
Nicklas Petersen, 4 weeks
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, returned for 10 days
Valerie Christiansen, 3 weeks
Brittany Eaton, 3 weeks
Yuval Gelber, 2 weeks
Helen Zou, 4 weeks
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, 8 days
Bruno Fedi, 8 weeks
Thijs Grolle, 4 weeks, returned for 2 weeks
Ana Soromenho, 1 week, returns irregularly for a week now and then.
Hugo Gressard, 2 weeks
Sergio Veiga, 2 weeks
Chris & Des Grey, 2 weeks
Thomas Gremmen, 4 weeks
Dennis McNamara, 10 weeks
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?