Hello, my name Rosa I'm a 34 years old Algarve autochthone (that means that my family is from here and I was raised here also), I studied psychology in Lisbon, but soon realized living in the city is not for me. I felt the urge to return to my fathers lands, certified organic for over 15 years now, to avoid their abandon in time and the loss of all traditional oral knowledge regarding the managing of orchards in a water scarcity situation. So I did, and in the meanwhile I gave birth twice (8 yrs + 4 yrs old boys). I've been here for 7 years now, transforming the old houses into eco-tourism lodgements, searching for new strategies to make the farm profitable but also sustainable and self-sufficient in food. Our aim is also to be self-sufficient in energy by the end of the decade but because of the size of the farm and lack of economical resources it's taking longer.
Our type of agriculture is 'natural' agriculture as we don't use any chemicals or even organic fertilizers, fertilize everything with manure from our animals, compost made from bad weeds and our organic garbage, and only use neem oil to avoid some plagues in young trees like citrines, bottles with vinegar trapping the Mediterranean fly, etc.
We are in the natural reserve of the marshlands of Castro Marim and VRSA, a Ramsar Convention protection area (protection for waterbird migrations), where you can watch rare birds. We aim to construct a small ornithology observatory.
The farm has different areas to work on:
A) the managing of the basic agriculture with 2 ha of adult fig trees (400), 2 ha of baby figs trees, 6 ha of baby orange trees, 2 ha of centenary olive trees, 50 ha of carob trees, 50 ha of marshlands where we extract sea salt traditionally (hand harvested) and Flor de Sal (the salt flower), 4 ha of almond trees
B) the transformation area: making jams, aromatic olive oil, bath salts, jellys, etc.
C) the managing of the self-sufficiency areas: vegetable gardens, strawberry fields, chickens, cooking for everyone, cleaning communal spaces, doing soap
D) the pedagogical areas for school children and visitors: aromatic gardens with rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, animal areas: donkeys, horses, goats, sheep, interpretive paths, ornithology observatory post, etc.
E) the touristic areas: cleaning the houses, serving breakfast.
We usually work with local people, mostly old skilled workers that teach us agriculture managing secrets that you can learn as well.
We will teach whatever we know in the different areas and receive with gratitude the knowledge you can offer us. We search for people with good vibes, working habits, responsibility, humor and creative minds. We allow everyone to express themselves into work as long as its useful to the farm.
We expect 6 h/day of work 6 days/week for lodgement and food (3 snacks + 2 complete hot meals a day, prepared by the wwoofers themselves).
Depending of the season we can receive from 1 to 10 woofers (all lodge in good conditions). We can receive groups, families, organizations, etc. We prefer woofers staying longer than 2 weeks and up to 6 months. Different proposals can be considered but be aware that we rent some of the houses in summer (July and August) and we may not have a room for you, but if you still want to come, bring a camping tent).
The seasons (need of woofers):
September: drying figs, planting strawberry plants, fixing roofs (2-4 wwoofer)
October: harvest quince and making marmalade and jelly (2-4 w)
November: harvest olives for conserve and extracting olive oil, plant beans (6-10 w)
December: helping to make fig truffles and pack them (2-4 w)
January: prune trees use cuts for tree nursery, clean vegetable garden and replant (2-4 w)
February: orange pruning and fertilization with cow manure (4-6 w)
March: cleaning gardens and painting the old houses with lime and traditional pigments (4-6 w)
April: cleaning sea salt marshlands for summer harvest (4-6 w)
May: building eco-toilet and solar shower in eco-camping (2-4 w)
June: Fig harvest, making fig jam (10 w)
July & August: Carob harvest, Fig harvest, sea salt harvest (depends of lodgement availability, but 4-6 w)
All year jobs: making this an EDEN, proposing your ideas to improve it: compost toilets, children's playground, ornithology observatory, etc. We also have a water dam that collects water from the rains and could use some hands for cleaning, building observatory, tipis, etc.
The weather here is generally good in winter (sunny and temperatures from 10 - 25ºC), autumn and spring is incredibly good (18 - 30 ºC) although there are windy days, summer is really hot (25 - 35ºC).
As you can see, its an ambitious project in which we aim to provide local authorities an example that sustainable, organic and ecological projects can be the future to our small village, and that mass tourism is making traditional knowledge and agriculture disappear.
When can you visit Quinta da Fornalha?