Every saturday Vale Da Lama host a community event whereby locals are invited to visit the farm to help with harvesting, eat food produced at the sweet spot cafe and participate in talks/lectures, this event on the volunteers calendar is called MINGA – unfortunately I didn’t grasp what that stood for.  We started the morning with Gonçalo and a couple of people from the neighbourhood harvesting a wide range of veggies, but new for us this morning was to pick grapes, we went on to clear all the grape vines and consume the odd one here and there.  The morning felt steady and relaxed, somewhat different from the previous harvest mornings and I was even given advice on how to pick a pepper, unaware that there was an actual technique, but apparently there is and it doesn’t involve using snippers!



Before we knew it, it was almost midday and time to head back to the sweet spot cafe for the talk on Introduction to Permaculture.  A few people were already waiting, some lazing in the hammocks until Mirka arrived with the freshly baked bread that we had prepared last night, accompanied with a garlic infused olive oil.  I started to cut the bread into slices and no sooner had I placed the first slice on the table, people started to crowd around, I couldn’t slice the bread quick enough, more and more people started to arrive, and eventually I had managed to carve up enough bread so that I could stop and take a piece for myself, just in time to scrape up the remaining drizzle of olive oil, It was delicious and we couldn’t get enough.  Just as the bred ran out Mirka started the lecture on Permaculture, she has a very engaging way of teaching and before we knew it lunch was being served.  Ana, the chef at Sweet Spot had made a a great selection of dishes, mainly from the veg we had harvested.  Hanging out at the resort really did have a different vibe compared to Lama Village, given it was a resort and not a workers house I guess it would have to, but you have to question why Lama village couldn’t have the same atmosphere.

On very very full stomachs we then started the craft work shop, on a large table three small pots of natural paint had been placed along side lots of leaves and flower heads, our task for the afternoon was to press pretty patterns onto paper bags that were then to be used to hold teas and herbs that would be sold in the shop.  Olof obviously flourished and produced some of the coolest bags, with everyone else admiring and quickly trying to replicate for themselves.  It wasn’t long before the pressing had finished and a few of us stayed behind to learn basket weaving with recycled paper, this actually turned out to be rather tricky and I didn’t get time to finish my basket before we had to head back to the Lama Village, today we were on dinner duty.

Olof had had an idea to do a chicken sweet and sour style meal, but minus the chicken and had wanted to pick up supplies when we were last in town, cashew nuts, pineapple etc, but I was adamant that we should cook only with the supplies that we had on the farm.  In the kitchen it was like a scene out of ready steady cook, the fridge was empty, all the harvest that we had collected today had gone to the sweet spot cafe and all that remained was pretty much the supplies that nobody else had wanted to use during the week.  This was not going to be easy but Olof was confident that we could pull off a sweet and sour style meal.  We used any veg that was available, chucked in spices and copious amounts of ginger, boiled rice and Luis pulled together a spiced cabbage dish along with some really delicious grape juice.  We didn’t hi-5 each other this time, the dish turned out ok, but wasn’t quiet the feast we would have liked to have prepared, especially given this was our last night at Lama Village.  I knew this was my fault with Olof reminding me that had we bought ingredients at the supermarket the dish would have been a classic!!  The rest of the evening went by pretty uneventful and I returned to the girls dorm with the faithful lonely planet guide for Portugal.  It was time to hang up the farm boots for a couple of weeks, after six years of working like a lunatic I was ready to kick back, relax, observe some of Portugal’s wonders and give ourselves time to take everything in.