Monte Velho is a family run, self-sustaining retreat centre with a strong passion for
reconnecting its visitors with nature. It is dedicated to hosting retreats that promote
healthy living and the education of sustainable living.
Ecological Philosophy and practice for Sustainability
A sharing space and a holistic learning center.
We want to share our experience with our guests so that everyone can benefit from
reconnecting with Nature, protecting it and integrating it in a sustainable way in our
life and daily practices.
It is a daily learning experience and the changes each person makes in his or her
lifestyle happen gradually.
We are always open to learning from other people’s experiences. New ideas and
projects on sustainability are more than welcome.
We aim to inspire others to do more and better for the health of our planet and for the
future of new generations.
We strive for a sustainable approach to energy, water, waste management, building
and environmental awareness, which is why we are constantly seeking to improve the
quality of our services and getting there with less environmental impact.
The Monte Velho Retreat Center’s commitment to sustainability is embedded in our
DNA – it is who we are, what we do and how we do it. We are in sync with our clients,
staff and other stakeholders who think the same way and who really want to reduce
their social and environmental impact to do the same.
65% of the Center’s energy consumption comes from renewable sources. Photovoltaic
solar panels power the main house and a solar water heating system provides hot
water from collector panels. The outdoor and indoor lighting uses LED technology.
The heating and cooling in the rooms and other buildings is very stable thanks to the
taipa (rammed earth) technique , a traditional construction method which uses local
materials such as mud and stones , as well as straw bale as insulation – these natural
elements ensure a comfortable and insulated temperature and ambiance inside the
rooms buildings all year round.
Our project at Monte Velho started with the reforestation of 30 hectares, around
10.000 trees were planted back in 1997, mostly umbrella pine trees, cork trees, and
strawberry trees .The land had been abandoned and wild for more than 20 years, it
was infested by invasive species such as acacias and eucalyptus trees, the soil was very
poor with lots of stones and little water.
As a first step to revitalize the land, we built a lake to collect the rainwater. Without
water we knew that nothing was possible….
While we were digging the lake with machines, we used the clay and stones, to build
the main walls of Monte Velho. After two winters the lake was almost full of water and
the wildlife began to return to the land. We could hear the birds singing again, frogs
croaking, and the resurgence of rabbits, foxes, wild boars, all happy to share the land
The firewood burned in our boilers to heat rooms and buildings in winter comes from
trees from our land, such as acacia and eucalyptus, invasive species that need to be
removed, in a sustainable way, every year.
We have also managed to improve the composition of the forest by planting native
species, such as oaks, arbutus or cork oaks, and we use those that are more adapted to
local climatic conditions and, therefore, more resistant to pests, diseases, long periods
of drought, forest fires or heavy rain. In addition, this type of reforestation contributes
to the mitigation of climate change and to the enhancement of biodiversity.
In the winter of 2018, we started a fruit tree project in terraces whereby 180 fruit trees
and wind protection trees were planted. The terraces are essential in maintaining the
rain water in the area for longer periods, providing more humidity around the trees
and hopefully a happy fruit harvest in a few years.
In our 34 hectares we have a big plantation of umbrella pine trees, which produce
delicious pine nuts. The trees are now almost 20 years old, and the last years we have
had good harvests during the winter time.
Pine nuts are a very tasty dried fruit widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. We have
the dream to have a local production to use them in our kitchen and sell them at
Monte Velho shop.
A herd of goats are helping us to maintain the property since they graze and eat the
dry bushes around the bigger trees thus contributing to avoid bush fires during the
summer/dry season. The pigs and chickens fertilize the soil around the trees.