We're Krister, Miranda, and Tor, our twelve-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. Work here is centered on the 15-hectare olival, which produces high-quality organic olive oil, but we are restoring the quinta's buildings, its citrus grove and fruit trees, and its Moorish irrigation system, and creating new plantings and gardens.
November is olive harvest time, so most work is on the harvesting team, though there is other work to do for a break. 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. From May through summer we’ll be focused on maintaining gardens (citrus grove, dry Mediterranean garden, vegetable garden, and ornamental plantings) as well as building renovation and possibly some other fun projects.
WORK AND EXPECTATIONS
We normally prefer a commitment of at least two weeks, and ask that volunteers work at least 5 days a week, 6 days an hour, with schedule depending on weather and season. At olive harvest time, to match our regular harvest crew, the workday is longer but you can take half days off or do other things on some days if you like. 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 with plants or building, or if you don’t actually enjoy that work.
Since we both also have freelance work (in publishing), you’ll need to work on your own sometimes and occupy yourself in off hours, though we are quite social.
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 will not otherwise ask you to do work unrelated to harvesting, gardening, farming, or restoring or creating farm structures.
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 life on it, and eating local/seasonal than in being off-grid or radical.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
We have a limited amount of indoor space, depending on how our work restoring the building complex goes; we also have two tents and nice places to put them. If you have your own van/caravan or tent, that's great. We’re continually renovating various bits of the complex, and there will probably be an indoor space available with a fold-up cot (the kind with a thin mattress)—not polished spaces, but indoors; the stone walls mean these spaces are nice and cool in the summer. Those who are interested could help renovate their own space.
We supply food for three meals, and snacks if needed. Typically we supply whatever food you want to fix yourself for lunch and dinner (unless someone volunteers to make us all lunch or breakfast!), and cook dinner for everyone. We are pretty adventurous about different cuisines and foods and like to cook. 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.
*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 purist are not a good fit here, and we don't accommodate vegans.
WHAT WE NEED HELP WITH
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 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).
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.
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 may try growing hops and brewing our own beer (we like a good IPA). For this we need to build a structure and plant hops at the right season. We also might buy hops to brew beer earlier.
Our neighbor grazes his sheep on our land, and we plan to keep chickens, so we’ll be building a sheep shelter and renovating an old stone henhouse. Our two horses are now boarded at a nearby stable and we’d like to build a barn so we can bring them home. We also have a new colony of bees.
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 Quinta do Veloso?