IT’S OLIVE HARVEST TIME!
Every year harvest is a little different, depending on the weather and when mills decide to open, but this years looks like we'll be starting at the end of October/beginning of November, and probably keep harvesting through much of December. We have two Portuguese gentlemen who work for us full time, Carlos and Luis. They’re harvest pros, so they will be your guides. We try to gather some other Portuguese people to help as well, but we never know how many we can get. This will be our third harvest here at Veloso. The first year we had about eight WWOOFers and five Portuguese people. The second year we had four WWOOFers and three Portuguese people. We would like to get back to the first year numbers if we can.
We both do freelance editorial work, so our involvement in the harvest will depend a lot on what deadlines we have at the time. We also have a thirteen-year-old son, Tor, who we will be taking to school and so on. We have a short paragraph about us and the quinta after the harvest information.
Harvest can be a fun time, but it is physical work. We harvest the traditional method. Two large nets are dragged to each side of a tree. One or two people will then hit the tree with long sticks to shake the olives off of the tree and down onto the net. (This is a challenging job that requires some skill and strength, but this year we also have a battery-powered olive rake, which should make it easier for those not skilled with the sticks to take a turn at this work if they like.) The others in the team will be removing leaves and small twigs that also fall. Then both nets are dragged to the next tree. When the net is heavy with olives, everyone works to pour the olives into large sacks. At the end of the day, these sacks are tied up and brought down to the truck. So there is a lot of bending and work on your knees. We start early, have a short rest around ten, work for a few more hours until lunch, and then work through the afternoon.
We are hoping to make some olive oil this year. If so, we will take the olives at the end of each day to the mill to be processed. If you want to come, you can see how this is done and ask as many questions as you want.
The rest of the olives we will sell to a middleman here in Elvas. This is also a fun thing to do. Not only is the machine that cleans the olives fun to watch in a Dr. Seuss kind of way, but they sell beer, wine, and snacks so there is a bit of a party atmosphere, and a feeling of connection to the community as we see all kinds of other people bringing olives, sometimes in big trucks, sometimes in a few crates in the back of a car.
Normally, we ask WWOOFers to work a 30-hour work week, 6 hours Monday to Friday. During harvest, since the Portuguese crew will be working 8 hour days, we will have a different schedule of a few 8 hour days and some half days.
Everyone is also expected to share the common household chores of cooking, cleaning, shopping, keeping the fires going, and just generally maintaining some sanity.
We provide materials for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We've found it easiest if one of the WWOOFers or us makes a big pot of chili or curry or whatever for lunch. Dinner depends on who is around and who is cooking.
The priority at this time is to harvest the olives, but if for some reason we have a lull or break, at some point, we will be harvesting fruits (figs, pomegranates, oranges) to make preserves or sorbet, or shelling our almonds. We also make our own soap.
We have four rooms to use for sleeping. Some people find the cots a little uncomfortable and prefer to just put the mattress on the floor. If we get a lot of WWOOFers we will need to share the rooms.
There is lots of space to hang out and relax when you're not harvesting, and a pool to swim in if you don't mind chilly water, though you will need to be respectful of the occasional guests who stay in our one small holiday cottage. Sometimes we have bonfire cookouts, and we like to grill out. If you like to cook, this is a great place for that, with lots of fresh seasonal ingredients, and of course our good olive oil.
OK. Here’s our general introduction:
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 16-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.
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. This is a beautiful area, and the quinta is a wonderful, relaxing place to hang out in your spare time, but it’s important to note that we are nowhere near the beach!
When can you visit this host?