WWOOF Portugal


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  • I was looking for an immersion into a new lifestyle. I was also hoping to be guided into the world of Permaculture from someone who had a conceptual understanding and a Systems Design approach to it all. I knew that it would be difficult because my urban lifestyle is so opposite to the experience of living on a farm for five weeks. I am used to conveniences and a faster pace. Though you can access conveniences in Arcos, I welcomed the new pleasures of eating with people under a clear, starry night, soaking in the sun at the river beach and jumping into the wonderfully clear water, picking berries each morning for breakfast, drinking water from a well and daily showers under the hot Sun. Most importantly, I was looking forward to the pleasures of working the land and helping Guy's bigger project.

    As a Maths and Science teacher in an urban setting, Quinta do Barbeito not only presented itself as advertised, but with surprises that upon reflection became so impressionable on my experience. Theory was really put into practice. There is so much evidence of basic scientific principles being applied to create a comfortable living space for people. A working design of a home-made water heater contraption and water filters made from mattress foam to prevent aquatic creatures from entering the water supply are just two examples. At times, the farm felt like an improv project guided by the principles of Permaculture, basic engineering principles and common sense with the tools and equipment available. This is wonderful! The farm is also a testament to the trial and error process. You try things, and see if it works. If not, learn from the experience and try something different. This is great for learning and in so many situations, I felt like a student enjoying the pleasures and frustrations of figuring things out.

    The prior references are spot on. I can endorse what has been said about the experiences of living and working on Guy's farm. This includes the tasty food, the clear expectations and guidelines provided and 'feeling like a fish out of water.' You will get as advertised. I think that this is a testament to the structure and the clear goals Guy has developed to make this farm work.

    Guy's practical knowledge is very diversified and more importantly, his conceptual understanding of Permaculture is so broad. He makes the effort to get you to feel part of the greater plan of the farm-that your labour and effort is appreciated and valued. He will take seemingly mundane topics and spark an interest in someone with no prior background. Questions are always welcome. I also appreciate that he has taken the effort to integrate into the community as much as possible. This includes his command of the language and his relationship to his neighbours. He even teaches a Permaculture design course to people and offers his advice to others.

    As I spent more time with Guy, I could see that he treats the project as not just a sanctuary, but a living entity with so many moving parts-each essential to the overall project. He is living the Permaculture project the best that he can. I highly recommend the adventure and engaging experience with Guy. I will definitely be back!

  • Foi sentida com emoção a despedida da quinta, espaço bonito, confortável, muito agradável, bem organizado e ainda em desenvolvimento para o ideal da sustentabilidade.
    O anfitrião Guy Miklos é sempre incansável com muita alegria e simpatia natural. É um verdadeiro gentleman.
    Experiência muito valiosa quer a nivel fisico quer psíquico.
    Acordar pelas 6,30h e logo de seguida ajudar a compor uma mesa recheada de boas e lindas iguarias para o pequeno-almoço, partilhado alegremente por todos. Depois da cozinha ficar limpa começávamos o trabalho na quinta até à hora do almoço, altura em que o calor aperta, onde o Guy coloca todo o seu saber e carinho na confecção de pratos deliciosos e com uma apresentação impar, até então para mim, só imagináveis ou conhecidos através de fotografias promocionais utilizadas pela restauração em alguns estabelecimentos hoteleiros. Após o almoço há um espaço de 4 a 5 horas para descansar, dormir ou dar um passeio pedestre pelas redondezas bem agrestes do Monte Redondo. De seguida é o finalizar das tarefas que haviamos começado de manhã. À hora do jantar voltava a ajuda na cozinha, o preparar da mesa com a colocação da toalha, pratos, talheres, copos, pão, manteiga, compotas elaboradas com a fruta da quinta, para receber as travessas, os tachos ou as taças cheias com apetitosas saladas e outras suculentas iguarias por todos apreciadas. O convívio é sempre alegre e saudável.
    Com os melhores cumprimentos e o desejo de felicidade a todos os que comigo partilharam os trabalhos, o conforto e as alegrias na quinta do Barbeito:
    - Guy Miklos – Anfitrião (Suécia)
    - Luke (USA)
    - Mónica (Portugal)
    - Martina (Espanha)
    - André (Portugal)
    - Brigitte (França)
    - Alain (França)
    - Diana (Holanda)
    - Alex (USA)
    - Fátima (Portugal)

  • How can I adequately describe my time in Quinta do Barbeito. In short: it was completely wonderful, and one of the best experiences of my life.

    In detail:
    I come from long generational line of city dwellers, and apart from the fact that I like nature, I am about as close to all the worst stereotypes of the disconnected city dweller that a person can get: I don’t “do” or “make” anything on my own, I’ve no natural affinity for things like baking or cooking (I’ve baked maybe twice in my life and I almost never cook for myself at home…like ever), I don’t do things like go to farmer’s markets on weekends or compost, I’ve never owned any animals apart from one sad goldfish when I was 7, I’d never really thought or even particularly cared about where the food that I bought from supermarkets came from, I’d never gardened before, I’d never done physical labor before, and apart from one disastrous attempt with a potted hydrangea that died after about week under my neglectful care, I’d never worked with plants before. And the list goes on: I knew next to nothing about permaculture and ecology and biology, I’d never lived in the countryside before, I knew absolutely nothing about Portugal, and I didn’t know any Portuguese.

    My first few days in Quinta do Barbeito, I felt like a fish out of water. Everything was new and unfamiliar – the landscape, the physical work, the weeding, the actual handling of plants, being outdoors all day long, working with compost, using a non-self-flushing toilet, showering outdoors with a hose and ladle, actually cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the kitchen (on a stove!), picking fresh ingredients from the garden to cook with, actually taking the time to sit down with people for every meal at the dining table. All of this took me awhile to get used to – especially the self-flushing toilet and the lack of internet and the physical labor – but none of those things were nearly as difficult as I might’ve imagined them to be, and I quickly realized that a person really doesn’t need very much to feel perfectly happy. Which I was. Every day, I felt more and more at home, and every day, I learned so much and experienced so many wonderful new things. I remember during the guided tour of the garden on my second day at the quinta, Guy very matter-of-factly picked two big yellow berries from a bush, popped one in his mouth, and handed the second berry for me to eat, and I was so surprised by this gesture, because that was the first time I’d ever seen someone do something like that – just pick something fresh from the ground and then eat it – just like that. It was a big thing to me, because that was basically the first time I really felt any kind of connection between the food we eat and the origins of where food comes from. There were so many firsts like that, which I won’t write in detail because then this post would be longer than it already is - so just a quick list then, of other firsts I experienced in my month-long stay at Quinta do Barbeito:

    -I learned how to bake bread for the first time in my life (not at all the impossible or cryptic task that I’d previously thought it was)
    -and in a wood-burning oven no less(!)
    -I learned about edible flowers and I picked flowers from the garden to make bright and colorful flower salads every day
    -I learned how to plant plants and I planted little green paprika plants and tomatoes and garlic and eggplants all along the vegetable line
    -I learned how to make raspberry ice cream with fresh raspberries picked from the garden
    -I learned how to make pizza and apple crumble and hummus (in fact, I could write a whole other list for all the different foods I learned to make), I learned how to coppice
    -I harvested little red oily peppercorns from a peppercorn tree
    -I inoculated a dead tree with mycelium
    -I pulled out brambles by their very long, very stubborn roots
    -I learned how to make compost tea
    -I got to dump organic waste into a big smelly tub of vermiculture
    -I learned what vermiculture was
    -I learned how to mulch
    -I learned how to propagate plant cuttings
    -I got to use a powerdrill for the first time
    -I learned how to make poisonous brews with white oleander leaves
    -I learned how to graft using the T cut.

    More importantly, I learned what it felt like to work hard with my hands and body, and I learned what it feels like to be tired and hungry after a day of honest work out in the sun and soil. I learned how to “make” and “do” things on my own. I came to understand just how much work and heart and sweat goes into creating these things that I’ve always taken for granted – these formerly distant and removed products that I’d previously only ever seen wrapped in sterilized packages, boxes, and jars, sitting on racks along the aisles of supermarkets – and these things finally became real, living things to me, things that I could see and touch and help grow and care for. It brought a whole new perspective to me on what it means to be a consumer, what it means to create produce, and it also gave me a completely new awareness of how much I am actually capable of doing and making for myself, which was an empowering and almost liberating realization.

    A few more last things, and I’ll stop writing, I promise: Guy is an absolutely wonderful host, extremely methodical, patient, and generous with his time and knowledge. Never be afraid to ask him for clarification on instructions, because he will gladly give it to you, and he’ll say it all in perfect RP English, so it’ll sound extra credible and intelligent. He’s also very good at selecting the Woofers who come to Quinta do Barbeito, and you grow very close to the people that you work with because you spend so much time with everyone and everyone’s so incredibly nice and hardworking and intelligent. The accommodations are clean, simple, and perfectly comfortable - the neighborhood itself is absolutely beautiful, and I miss it even now. Work hard, be engaged, and you’ll get a whole lot out of your time at Quinta do Barbeito.

  • As a happy volunteer at Guy's and Joseph's farm, I am really pleased to write a review about Quinta do Barbeito.

    I began being a WWOOFer in order to learn more about farming, and mainly about permaculture. Before being in Quinta do Barbeito I went to other farms in Portugal where I had the chance to learn a lot about farming, but usually not so much about permaculture.

    And this is why I loved the stay at this farm. In Quinta do Barbeito I was finally able not only to learn a lot about permaculture theory, but also to see a lot by myself. A lot of work has already been done in this farm and you will be able to see with your eyes:

    - what a swale is
    - how to grow a food forest
    - how to grow a vegetable garden according to the permaculture principles
    - how to turn high exploited "dead" soil into good soil again (one zone of the farm was previously high exploited with fertilizers and it was virtually impossible to grow anything in there, but there is ongoing work in order to recover this soil)
    - how you can have a farm without digging or weeding
    - plants you have never seen before (there are more than 900 different species of plants in the farm...)
    - hundreds of different types of plants being grown from seed at the nursery

    When you are not working at the farm, you can always learn...
    - a lot with the help of the many interesting books about permaculture and botanic
    - cooking super tasty food with the help of Guy great knowledge :)
    - how to prepare a salad only with flowers
    - how to establish a friendship with the not-so-friendly-geese-if-they-dont-know-you-well-yet

    I should also warn that this is not the place you want to go if you just aim to spend cheap holidays. Even though the work is usually very relaxed, there are a lot of tasks to do and you will probably end up working (and learning) a lot. Also, this is not the kind of farm where you end up the days drinking and speaking about the meaning of life.

    The last but not the least: please read carefully the description about the farm, and the references given by other WWOOFers. If you do so, you will surely know what to expect. This was probably the only farm where 100% of my expectations were met. Thanks to the honest description of the farm and accurate references given by WWOOFers I knew exactly beforehand how my experience would be.

    Tack sa mycket Guy och Joseph!

  • Quando contei aos meus amigos e família que ía ser voluntária nas férias acharam que eu estava doida. E o meu chefe ficou preoucupado. Afinal, as férias são para descansar.

    Na Quinta do Barbeito os dias começam com uma mesa bem recheada de pequeno-almoço que nos enche os olhos, sem dúvida a barriga, e de boa disposição. Se o tempo deixar, comemos lá fora, com direito a uma vista bestial que chega ao Parque Nacional da Peneda.

    A lista de tarefas é variada, umas mais árduas que outras mas todas importantes. Nada se faz por acaso. O Guy faz questão de demonstrar e explicar como devem ser feitas. É importante prestar atenção e tirar dúvidas; ele espera que tudo seja bem feito. Posso vos dizer que não foi difícil deixar-me contagiar por todo o cuidado e dedicação à quinta para querer fazer tudo muito bem feitinho!

    Foi uma excelente oportunidade de aprender mais sobre botânica e principalmente sobre permacultura. Passamos o portão e entramos em todo um estilo de vida diferente (principalmente para os citadinos, que é o meu caso) e muitos dos hábitos que tenho, estranhamente não fizeram falta absolutamente nenhuma.

    Os gansos são criaturas maravilhosas e pouco amigos de estranhos, o que poderá representar um desafio considerável... Uma coisa é certa, a interacção ganso-estranho é emocionante e pode gerar histórias interessantes para contar!

    Foi uma semana de férias em cheio, um refúgio no campo, tudo o que eu precisava! E foi um verdadeiro privilégio conhecer a Quinta do Barbeito. Espero voltar.

    When I told my friends and family I was going to volunteer on a farm for my holidays they all thought I was crazy, and my boss was a bit worried. After all, holidays are meant to be for resting.

    At Quinta do Barbeito mornings begin with quite an impressive breakfast. Looking at the set table you could easily mistake it for a picture in any gourmet magazine. Weather permitting, you’ll sit outside with an amazing view going all the way to Peneda National Park.

    The activities that follow are varied and each have an important role. Guy will be there to show you how to do them and explain why it must be done that way. So make sure you listen and have no doubts, he will expect you to follow instructions. There is a lot of care involved and if you appreciate that, you too will gladly follow them!

    Sharing knowledge is a big part of this project so you will have an incredible opportunity for learning, especially when it comes to botanic and permaculture. As soon as you go through the gate you enter into a completely new lifestyle (especially if you’re a city person like me) and it was funny realising that most of my everyday habits were easily broken.

    There might be a few close encounters with geese, that are the most wonderful creatures but not so fond of strangers. But not to worry, geese-stranger interactions are exciting and make for very good stories. Promise!

    It was just the holiday I needed! And it was a privilege to get to know Quinta do Barbeito. Hope to be back soon.

  • FANTÁSTICO! É a palavra que melhor descreve o tempo que passei com o Josef e o Guy. Foi a minha primeira experiência de woofing e embora não possa comparar a verdade é que acho que seria difícil encontrar melhores anfitriões. As condições de alojamento são óptimas, a comida é muito boa, e o trabalho bastante organizado e variado.

    Durante as 2 semanas que habitei a quinta, ajudei a construir umas escadas reciclando pneus, semeie um pouco de tudo, protegi árvores contra a concurrencia de ervas daninhas, enxertei, etc e há tanta coisa para fazer que podes ainda dar-te ao luxo de escolher!

    Portanto se gostas de aprender, trabalhar arduamente e tomar o pequeno almoço tendo como cenário uma das mais lindas paisagem em Portugal, este é sem duvida um lugar a visitar. Eu certamente vou voltar a repetir a dose.

    PS: Pai e filho falam português quase na perfeição e adoram aprender… mas cuidado com as gansas elas só percebem sueco ;)

  • Despite both Josef and Guy modestly claiming that this property is in its infancy and needs much more work, it’s already spectacular. The garden is bountiful and diverse and the picturesque mountaintop setting only adds to the beauty of this property. No land is wasted and nothing is planted without having a specific purpose. Even an invasive tree such as the Acacia serves a purpose as it is chipped down and used as mulch or for wood placed into the hugulkulturs. Guy has extensive knowledge of permaculture and has even received lessons from Bill Mollison (co-founder of permaculture). Josef also has an in-depth understanding of permaculture along with 20+ years as a hired gardener. Together, this father and son duo has combined two lifetimes worth of knowledge and have the incredible Quinta do Barbeito to show for it.

    Stay with Josef and Guy if you:
    -like getting dirty and sweaty
    -enjoy fine cuisine picked fresh from the garden
    -are looking to expand your knowledge of gardening/farming/permaculture
    -want to immerse yourself in a small Portuguese village
    -are a rational human
    -want to meet awesome guys (Josef and Guy)

    Don’t stay with Josef and Guy if you:
    -are using WWOOF solely for your time AWAY from the farm
    -expect to take part in sing-alongs/ hippy powwows / deep metaphysical discussions
    -need high-end creature comforts such as heating, indoor showers, flushing toilets
    -don’t want to meet awesome guys

    My two and half months at Quinta do Barbeito was an experience that I will forever cherish.

    -Dennis McNamara

  • We stayed at Quinta do Barbeito for about two weeks and had a really good time!!!
    I must say that this Farm is probably the best we stayed at, so far.
    Guy and Josef are great characters and wonderful hosts.

    Guy has an extremely broad knowledge of plants and always figures out the most clever way to do a project, with his background as a Ph. D in Computer Science, while Josef is an excellent cook and probably Portugals best Storyteller and Gardener...just to name a few qualities. There is lots of ambition and commitment, that is rather rare, and planning is done with so much care. It is just so great to see this and even better to participate actively in it.

    There where plenty of different things to do and it never got boring. We learned so much in these 2 weeks, about plants and permaculture, we wouldn't want to miss it.
    A good entertainer are the "little" ducks they have at the farm, and we got a glimpse of what is possible on a rather small spot of land, concerning planting and the flora and fauna of this climate zone. I am sure the place will turn into a little paradise in a while...and the view from the terrace over the valley of Arcos...astonishing!

    I hope this place becomes much more than it already is and we wish you all the best.
    Maybe we'll meet again sooner than expected,

    All the best,

    Janko and Julia and Alexis

  • Quinta do Barbeito, a garden of mathematical proportions structured by way of nature and through means of sweat, blood and billhook. Brain child of Guy and love child of Josef, Barbeito has been tended with remarkable foresight and patience and such that has left this WWOOFer with many ideas and indeed, a renewed respect for the variety and splendour of our forgotten flora otherwise made mundane by thoughtless planting. Close to a thousand species Barbeito holds, each with their place and role within the 1.4hectars of terraces, years of research and thought has compelled Barbeito’s duo to plant all one thousand species accordingly. Walking Barbeito with Guy is like strolling a library, its beautiful complexity has a contagious effect to one’s enthusiasm if you are interested in botany, in scientific methods of Permaculture, in soils then stay at Barbeito. As Barbeito is still rather infant like, there is much to learn in its development and much to be done; I’m sure the village Raiz will be enriched with Barbeito’s growth as it’s nurtured with exciting and progressive agricultural techniques.

    Some tasks done during my stay:

    Extending the irrigation system
    Planting vegetables
    Propagating by cuttings
    Sowing seeds,
    Grafting chestnut
    Laying logs to mark out paths
    Making duck cages.
    Collecting seeds
    Re-potting nursery plants
    Tying frayed edges on agrotextile
    Car tire cutting
    Picking raspberries
    Harvesting edible flowers
    Putting handles on buckets
    Washing up
    Filling gabions
    De-mousing and clearing out a cellar