Now is the time to be investing our cash back into the local economy. One of the best ways to do this is to eat local, get to know local farmers and discover local produce. Quinta do Pincho Blueberry farm, is based just outside of Lagos and will be returning for their 6th season of gracing the Algarve with their blueberries.

Chris Wells, an unconventional, retired doctor, landed in the Algarve back in 1998. He stumbled across a large piece of land about 20 minutes north of Lagos. With one lake, some trees and a huge amount of weeds, Chris pondered over what to do with the land. Little did he know, he was about to embark on his new role as the Algarve resident ‘‘blueberry man’’ and he would be so in demand for his berries.

After speaking with local experts, he was advised to start growing blueberries (mirtilos in Portuguese). This would have been the first blueberry farm in the Algarve, so he was entering into completely uncharted territory.

On the whole, Chris owns around 40 hectares (around 100 acres) of beautiful, tranquil countryside. Quinta do Pincho makes up 25 hectares of rolling hills with the bushes planted on the last hill over 7 terraces. He planted 3000 bushes here initially with 4 varieties; Camellia (900), Suziblue (800), Powder Blue (600) and Ochlockone (900). Last year, they planted several more Legacy bushes from Monchique to keep up with demand.

The bushes were planted in 2012. They took 3-4 years to mature, and Chris often repeats ‘’it’s harder than you think’’. ‘’We have many disheartened green fingered visitors who have tried and failed to grow blueberries here’’. So what’s the secret? They require acidic soil and the bushes don’t like their roots in water and they die if they are too dry. ‘’We have a sophisticated drip-through irrigation system using natural rainwater from our lake, all monitored by our farm staff’’.

We had our first crop in 2017. They first sold to local health food stores and fruit stalls. Then, they opened the farm to visitors for a ‘Pick Your Own’ experience which was quite the hit. Soon, the people who knew, were raving about the Pincho Berries.
After a significant increase in their Facebook following in 2019, their popularity shot through the roof. We have now established several ‘‘pick-up points’’ which are announced in ‘’local groups’’ on social media every week. These will usually be in Burgau/ Luz & Lagos.

Last year, upon the success of our initial ‘’pick-up points’’, we formed another in Alvor where they sold a remarkable 60 kilos in just under an hour!
Some local markets also sell our berries. These are often shared with other local, artisan products. Chris is always eager to form new partnerships within the community. Another arrangement he has is with local businesses such as ‘The Pilates Room’ in Lagos, ‘Fit 2 Love Life’ in Burgau & ‘Parque da Floresta Golf Club’ in Budens. After classes or games, a ‘’blueberry representative’’ will pitch up to sell.
More recently, Restaurants and Cafes such as Fabrica in Luz and Plant Based Burgau have gone a step further to use these berries and turn them into delicious desserts and smoothies.

Arguably though, our customers favourite (and cheapest) way to get their hands on Pincho berries, is to visit the farm and pick themselves. Many families and friends go up each year, by pre-arranged appointment, to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and peaceful surroundings whilst picking to their hearts content. Afterwards, customers can even sit by the scenic lake and enjoy a picnic.

A few years back, Chris talks of a lovely girl who was encouraged to try and eat the berries as she picked. ‘’Obviously aware that this would deprive us of revenue on weigh out – like in a sweet shop- she earnestly asked if she had to be weighed at the end to calculate the berries she’d eaten’’.

Luckily, blueberries are extremely healthy, and these berries are no exception. They are completely free of pesticides and are organically grown. With Chris’s deep-rooted medical background, he’s done a lot of research into the countless health benefits of blueberries.

He explains ‘’Several studies have shown that blueberries and can protect against DNA damage, a leading driver of aging and cancer. The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to protect LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidative damage, a crucial step in the pathway towards heart disease’’.

He goes on to inform that ‘’ Like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that can prevent certain bacteria from binding to the wall of the urinary bladder. This may be useful in preventing urinary tract infections’’.

Pincho berries are always freshly picked and stay nice for ‘’up to 4 weeks in the fridge’’. Customers are always surprised to know that they are great to freeze too.

Each year, our team increase efforts to be as ‘green’ as possible. Last year marked the first year of 100% no plastic for the farm as they are now packaging everything in cardboard boxes. When visitors arrive for Pick Your Own, they will be required to bring their own container to take them home in. And, for regular buyers, they will be encouraged to reuse their packaging when purchasing another batch.

It’s needless to say that the berries are second to none. But to begin with, a lot of the berries did end up wasted as they had far too many to pick. Yet, every single berry, since two years ago, has been picked and sold. We pride ourselves in our efforts to partner and connect with residents, farmers and other local businesses. And, during these unprecedented times, these sweet berries really bring joy to families and friends, tourists and locals.

They can be ordered through our Manager, Alex Brennan. Contact her, on our Facebook page, by phone/message on 910 782 740, or through our website.

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