We spent around 2 years (2010/2011) looking for a property in central Portugal that had all the qualities we believed were ideal for what was then (and still largely remains!!) a ‘vague concept’ of a future ‘eco-project’! It seemed that Quinta de Cima offered many of the possibilities that we had been looking for, even if it didn’t quite ‘tick’ every single one of the proverbial boxes — but I thought that we had come to the conclusion that nothing/nowhere would ever truly do this for ‘everyone’ concerned in every way conceievable! — so in short for ‘good or ill’ and time not being on-side (nor funds come to that) the die was cast, and the place was purchased (after the usual various shenanigans, over several months, that supposedly went prove that the Advogado had been worth their ‘pound of flesh’ — and a hefty pound it was too in this case — if nothing else!)!
But that all said, the ‘milk having been spilt’ — so to speak… there was no longer any sense or time to brood in a lachrymose style over the ‘what ifs’…
Quinta de Cima (literally ‘Top Farm’) lies just above the fair-sized, typically Portuguese, cobbled-street village of Vale de Prazeres (picturesquely translated as the Valley of Pleasures). From the windows of the main building (two modestly sized 2-bedroomed houses, atop equally sized storage and workshop areas) on the Quinta there are really undeniably glorious views of the ‘fruit basket’ of Portugal — the Vale de Gardunha –in which the village lies, about about 10 minutes drive (if not stuck behind a tractor or ‘mini-car’ — can those things REALLY be safe? — or flat-capped driver of a ‘certain age’!) from the market town of Fundao, with all the facilities anyone might need (including the full-set of supermarkets representing each of the major brands that may be found in Portugal). It is also approximately mid-way between the pretty mountainside University city of Covilha to the North, and distinctive capital of the region, Castelo Branco, to the South, each being around half-an-hour away by train — or perhaps 40 minutes by car.
This is a reasonably large Quinta, at 25 hectares, and needs a fair amount of TLC — for although it was more-or-less abandoned for at least 15 years, it has not been totally neglected (like so many places that we saw during the ‘property hunt’)… Yet even now, after three years here (somewhat frustratingly !) it STILL requires as much if not more TLC than when we arrived !! (There are some reasonable excuses but these are not for lingering on here!!)…
On the positive side… The Quinta is blessed with many acres, perhaps about 40, of forested land as well as several wonderful wide ‘ready-to-cultivate’ terraces, at perhaps around two acres each or maybe more, intended for agricultural purpose that will hopefully (in due course) put to good use! The property also has the particular boon of numerous natural springs that flow down from the mountainside and probably provide some of the purest natural water to be found today… straight to the tap… no fluoride, no chlorine, just water at the best it can be (given Man’s obsession with polluting his environment) sourced from deep lakes after filtering through many meters of earth !
It is hoped one day to build a place where ecologically sound farming practices allow the production of the best organic foods and other natural crops. The intention is to ‘learn as we go’ (those of us here already and those who join for longer or shorter-terms to get involved with the project) putting into practice the information collected over recent times about permaculture principles. Here, at Quinta de Cima is the REAL potential to become as self-sufficient as possible… and ultimately to live from the resources the land provides and those that we manage to grow… In a world where the economic future is uncertain… this must be a blessing? !
There are no illusions about the amount of work to do (well maybe there are — as it seems there is always more than you expect !) and I will be needing a lot of help and advice along the way.
Therefore, Quinta de Cima cordially invites those who would like to find a place to stay for a while in return for some labour to contact us to talk about WWOOFING opportunities here at the ‘Top Farm’ — Quinta de Cima!…
(NOTE: Thanks to the ‘evolutionary’ changes in our ‘personal and domestic’ situation, which have not been and continue not to be straightforward or easy… but please don’t let that stop you from making first contact to see ‘where things are at’ !)
On a personal note:
This is the beginning of the fulfilment of a dream that began some years ago to change completely the way I was living and start to live in a more conscious, ecologically and socially responsible way… No doubt I will continue to exhibit many failing on our route towards realizing this objective… But I welcome those with open-hearts and minds who may also be looking at relocating to this fertile and beautiful area who need a base to stay while they look around and decide if this ‘is the place’ for them… and I will be happy to impart any advice and knowledge that my own experiences have provided over the last four years.
Many blessing to you all and thank you for your interest.
Al G Smith
Updated: Dec 2016