The Quinta Project Farm

The farm (or Quinta in Portuguese) is the hub for the project. The aim is to create a queer ecosystem: informed by ecoqueer ideas, guided by permaculture principles and a tapestry of diversity, a place where joy, respect, wonder, and delight converge. A sanctuary where you’re embraced just as you are and where we don’t go back to Nature but go forward with and for Nature.

At the Quinta, I grow food, hold gatherings and welcome visitors and volunteers. It is a hive of activities: There’s always something to do on the land, from tending the gardens, restoring old terraces, pruning and regenerating olive and fruit trees, clearing the land to tackle small building projects and you can even try your hand at winemaking!

Much of the farm is wild: mostly wild forest, with hundreds of cork oaks, over two hundred olive trees, and an array of other fruitful treasures, including vines that produce grapes high up in treetops, apple, peach, pomegranate, orange, pear and many other trees, four streams, a waterfall, rock formations and many quiet places to escape and contemplate.

There are three growing areas on the farm, where we produce vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries for our consumption:

Vegetable Garden

In the vegetable garden, I grow different vegetables and herbs, mostly more unusual varieties. I’m a bit of a tomato and cucumber fan, so there are many varieties of both of these. I designed much of the original garden design as part of my Permaculture Design Certificate course, and it is great to see it doing so well. During summer, it feels very much like a little paradise: with so many different tomatoes of all shapes, colours and sizes (and tastes, of course!).

Food Forest

The food forest is an ongoing project to create a plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems. The fruit layer and much of the berry/shrub layer are planted and are starting to produce fruit. After letting it grow for a while, I’ll add more of the ecosystem layers. The idea is to create a symbiosis of fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables requiring minimum intervention.

Sue’s Garden

This garden is named after the volunteer who built most of it (Sue!). It has a wonderful drag-scarecrow that is guarding many “day to day” vegetables all year round: cabbages, aubergines, peppers, spinach, some salad etc… The planting system in the garden is based on a companion planting system developed by Gertrud Franck, called “mixed row culture”. It involves planting in narrow rows of varying height, vigour and time to harvest. It seems quite complex, but it is a fascinating way to create a unique small ecosystem. It also needs very little watering, which in a hot and arid area is a great advantage! We talk more about the system in this Sunday Matinee video.


The vineyard is located 5km away from the Quinta and is a 3 hectare property. Until last year it was conventionally farmed, and I’m now converting it to certified biological production and redesigning the space with respect to nature and incorporating permaculture principles, which is quite tricky in grape production! The vineyard is a magical place to be: It has old cork oaks and chestnut trees, which give shade to a wonderful picnic area, a small kitchen and some farm-related buildings. We often organise parties and dinners there. Have a look at the São Mamede Wine Project website to find out more about the vineyard and the wines produced from the grapes.


There are three houses on the Quinta site: The main house, a “ruin” and a small gatehouse. The main house is where visitors and volunteers stay, and where I live with the five animals. There is some ongoing construction, as parts of the house were still a ruin when I bought the place. The house was originally built in the 16th century and gradually extended as the family grew. It is an original farmhouse with many original walls made out of clay and stone still standing.

While I’m here, much has happened to make the house more comfortable and also respect nature:

  • The house has its own well, and the water comes directly from there.
  • There is hot water heated by solar panels on the roof.
  • The electricity in the house is produced by solar panels and stored for use overnight or on very cloudy days in winter.
  • The heating system is a mix of wood fire, pellets and solar: they all work together to make the house comfortable during colder days!