Martin Kirby and Maggie Whitman, who with their very young children were featured on the first No Going Back Channel Four television documentary 11 years ago – a pioneering series that spawned a host of global “new life” programmes – are moving on.
After more than 12 years on the 10-acre Mother’s Garden organic farm in the Priorat wine and olive mountains of southern Catalonia, Spain – a time-capsule, beautiful region south of Barcelona – they say it is time to “pass on the dream” to someone looking for that special place.
The farm, which you can see in the foreground of the panorama to the left, is 30 minutes from Reus Airport and 40 minutes from the city of Tarragona and the Mediterranean.
It comes complete with
3 – 4 bedroom farmhouse
Fully-furnished and successful 3 bedroom holiday cottage business
Olive, almond, hazel and fruit trees
Meadow and horse corral
There is plentiful water from well and spring sources, and the farm has a large spring-fed reservoir which is also used for swimming.
The 200-year-old farmhouse faces a mountain forest nature reserve in a valley rich in wildlife and history, from Palaeolithic to Roman and more recently as the focus of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.
There is a village one mile away, with a school, shops and four bars/restaurants, and the main town of Falset is three miles away with a 24 hour medical centre, high school and other amenities. The farm is in the DO Montsant wine region and three miles from the world-famous DOQ Priorat.
Both wine regions form the tiny Priorat county which has spectacular walks, wildlife and the imposing Montsant mountain range, a national park. From the house you can walk into the Serra de Laberia Nature Park with its abundance of wildlife.
The French border and Pyrenees ski slopes are three hours to the north. Barcelona is one hour 40 minutes by car or direct train.
The farm is for sale now for completion and possession from September.
“Because of the exceptional sunny climate we have produced much of our own fruit and veg, olive oil, wine, eggs, honey and nuts. This has been incredibly satisfying. We have solar water heating, with mains electricity back-up and we cut our own logs to heat the houses in the winter.”
“And it has been the best of both worlds in a way – close to nature in a peaceful valley and also close enough to the sea and to cultural centres like Tarragona and Barcelona with direct rail connections from a station just one mile from the farm. ”
The couple have been farming olives for 12 years and have built up the award-winning Mother’s Garden olive oil brand (click for more information) which they will continue to grow, continuing to work closely with the local village cooperative.
Martin has written two books about the family’s life on the farm – No Going Back (translated into Dutch, Catalan and Portuguese) and Shaking The Tree - as well as a novel which is now a film project. He writes for newspapers and magazines in England and Catalonia.
“People have come from all over the world to stay here – birders, walkers, wine connoisseurs, families seeking something different – and that has enriched us all.” said Martin. “But the farm, the increasingly popular and successful holiday and olive oil businesses are, alongside my growing writing commitments, collectively too much now.
“Our children have all but grown up and with our daughter starting at university in the UK we will seek to base ourselves there most of the time, to focus on Mother’s Garden olive oil sales and promotion and the writing, to be closer to family and for our 13 year-old to broaden his horizons.”
“But the bond with these valleys will be unbroken. As members of the olive mill cooperative here in the Priorat we will be back and forth regularly, tending an olive grove and continuing to produce and promote our fresh, top-quality extra virgin olive oil in the UK and worldwide.”
“This special place is ideal for a couple or a family or even two families looking for that adventure, somewhere exceptionally beautiful which is comfortable but where they can leave their mark too,” said Martin.
“Ideally, given the nature, climate, water supply and fertility, it would most suit someone wanting to get on the land and eager for that challenge and fulfilment. We have achieved a great deal, but the possibilities are endless.”
The whole Mother’s Garden farm – L’Hort de la Mare – is for sale at the guide price of €925,000, for completion and transfer in September 2013.
Get in touch by clicking here. The holiday cottage is available for short rents up until the 26th of July for prospective owners wanting to come and spend more than an hour on the farm.
NEW SHIPMENT LEAVING SOON – ORDER NOW
A new shipment of fresh Mother’s Garden olive oil will leave next week for deliveries in early February so if you would like some please get in touch as soon as you can.
And if you need some tips CLICK HERE to read cook Stuart Buck’s latest blog all about our olive oil.
“When you get oil as fresh as a daisy it has a spicy, grassy taste that’s really pleasing in winter cooking.”
We advise everyone to follow this foodie blog, particularly if you are in Norfolk where Stuart is based.
Meanwhile let us know what you would like to order from the shipment. There will be the usual selection of 500ml bottles (in cases of 6), 2 litre containers, 5 litre containers and 20 litre bag in boxes (as some food cooperative groups, ie our hubs, are now appreciating).
New labels are being printed but we will not use these until all the current ones have gone – why create waste?.
So we have also decided to delay the 2013 price rise for now too.
All olive oil now being offered is at 2012 prices – £39 for 6x500ml bottles, £17 for 2 litres, £35 for 5 litres and £140 for 20 litre bag in box.
SO HURRY WHILE LABELS LAST!! Click here to order or contact your hub if you are part of one.
It is the month of green and red, of course, although our shades may be a little different: the bounty of delicious new harvest olive oil and the miracle that is the red winter fruit of the strawberry tree.
We have been rushing hither and thither, completing our annual Christmas shipment of fresh olive juice to our key customers, preparing the farm for winter, planning the year ahead as sales of our award-winning cooperative olive oil in the UK, Canada and America climb at an ever increasing rate.
The word is spreading.
Just get in touch.
It is so necessary too, though, to find moments to stand and stare.
I see things differently come December.
Mistletoe appears from nowhwere, like the robin, holly berry and rosehip, and a friend’s garden in the lee of a great mountain is decorated with that indefinable delicacy of arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree. It fruits a year after flowering.
And just yesterday – hallelujah – there was the flash of the kingfisher.
As the Iberian winter bites the tetchy cat has hijacked the little chair I salvaged from the rubbish tip. My plan was to perch on it while feeding the wood-burner, hence saving my creaking knees; but no.
So, just three days and counting….The Mayans ran out of chisels or stone when they got to December 21, 2012, and (as you are undoubtedly aware) the conclusion has been drawn that this signifies all of us have run out of time. KABOOOM.
I prefer to prescribe the ancient Greek definition of apocalypse – not a cataclysm but an unveiling, or revealing, in reference to a meaning of some kind previously hidden in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception.
Let’s hope so.
The sense of change is heightened, though, isn’t it? Maybe humanity is unsettled by the compacted burdens of so-called advancements that weigh so much and have forsaken so much, from braking the core of being, the atom, to robbing family and community and the individuals of priceless time.
Or do I sense a longing for change more here, in Catalonia, an angry “state” within sick Spain now far larger in the world conscience after linking arms with Scotland and striding towards independence?
Catalan president Artur Mas risks having a ragged Christmas, because a month after the election his Moses-like posters are still hanging from ever lamppost and the wind is getting up.
He called an early vote in the region to pump independence air into the tyres of his middle-to-right of the road bandwagon, but it backfired. He lost some ground if not his crown, while left-wing separatists found a new gear.
The majority of Catalans voted for one of the pro-independence parties, though, and it is such a single-minded place to be right now that there is a real chance of left and right forgetting their differences, forming a coalition and defying Madrid by calling a referendum.
The right-wing Spanish government of starch-rigid President Rajoy has declared any such vote unconstitutional, which has had people openly pondering on the likelihood of tanks rumbling through these villages.
I can’t see Europe letting it come to that, but why the clamour in the first place? The Catalans cite their ancient and unyielding claim of sovereignty, for reasons of language, culture and brutal history, and now even moderates have added their voices and votes, spurred by the economic mess.
Our village has already voted and declared it is not part of Spain.
Many Catalans think they would be better off going it alone because they pay far more in tax than they get back from Madrid, with this north east corner, the cornerstone of the “national” economy, constantly getting what they see as a raw and offensively dismissive deal from central government.
Certainly the mandate is clear enough for Artur and those seated at his round table, with nigh on a quarter of all Catalans flocking to a September rally to wave independence flags.
Fundamental issues of massive bureaucratic costs, EU membership, currency and the subsequent stability not only of a Catalan nation but what would be left of Spain form the meat course in this debate and we are just coming to it.
Spanish austerity was one of the topics discussed in my Norfolk home town of a couple of weeks ago.
A Spanish friend, a teacher, went to define to a gathering of anti-austerity UK residents the gravity of the situation here. She added her voice to a multi-party counter argument to the UK Government’s stringent economic policies.
How strange to see a photograph of a face from the heart of here standing in the high street of my youth.
For weeks now the day and night skies have been clear and calm, down to minus 5 beneath starlight. Every morning sunlight bounces from dew drops and jet specks in the sky.
On a 40-minute afternoon drive into the mountains to fetch Ella from a friend’s home the three griffon vultures circling overhead outnumbered the cars we passed along the winding lane of timeless charms.
The rains of late autumn have filled the reservoirs and brought our spring to life again. There is ample grazing for the horses. The chicken run has been reinforced and although a grey male goshawk has been sighted we have stopped the slaughter I recounted last month..
And as I walk the land and think of what the future may hold I reflect on how Adrian Bell felt on his Suffolk farm. How we appreciate him. I quote -
“I thought, today, how the family and one small farm fill our thoughts from waking to sleeping. Yet the farm occupies merely a moment of a traveller’s time. What a concentration of concern there is all over the lands and cities of this island, and what an anomalously impersonal thing ‘government’ is by contrast. It will be superseded, surely, by something more personal, an intensification of the personal concern, not a denaturing of ourselves from it, which is present politics. It should be as personal an affair as the old heraldic rule of kings was; but adult in conception, a fusion and a sharing, not egotism splendidly strutting.”
That was his hope in 1946.
What do I hope for everyone in 2013? An open-hearted, hopeful discussion on how to counter the sense of overload. Now is the time.
Have a wonderful Christmas. Peace in abundance. Ready smiles and steady hearts. Keep warm. Keep well.
Oh – and remember, whether you are in the United Kingdom or North America, you can get a taste of this life. We would love to hear from you.
Fresh Mother’s Garden arbequina olive oil is now in Cornwall!
Our friends and colleagues Tamsin and Andy Glendinning – who have been helping on the farm this year – will be flying the Mother’s Garden flag at events throughout the summer, offering up some fresh oil for you to taste and buy, along with books, aprons, bags and olives.
It all starts in the next few days, so if you can get along and say hello that would be wonderful. Here are the events Tamsin and Andy have organised so far. There will be more.
Tuesday 7th June – Truro Country Market at Hall For Cornwall, Back Quay, Truro, TR1 2LL 9.00 – 4.00
Sunday 19th June – Helston Motor Show at Wendron Football Club visit Helston Motor Show Map for directions 10.30 – 5.30
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June – Midsummer Food Festival, Duchy College, Stoke Climsland, Callington, PL17 8PB 10.00 – 4.00
Saturday 2nd July – South Kerrier Official Festival of Food at Helston Community College, Church Hill, Helston, TR13 8NR 9.30 – 2.30.
If you would like to order olive oil and can’t get to one of these events, please drop us a line. Click here, giving your full address and contact details.
Calling Yorkshire! Mother’s Garden will be at the Malton Food Lovers Festival this weekend (May 21-22) , so come along and try some olives, taste some fresh olive oil and meet Tina, our friend and north of England organiser.
Tina Boden, from Scarborough, has been to Mother’s Garden several times, and knows all about our life, our aims, our ethos. She will be flying the flag at food events across Yorkshire and further afield through the year, including at the ten-day York Food Festival in September.
Whether you are a chef, a deli owner or private customer who appreciates outstanding olive oil, Tina would love to meet you and to talk about our arbequina oil from the tiny, beautiful Priorat mountain region of Catalunya, Spain.
We will be bottling fresh olive oil next week, for immediate shipment to the UK for delivery in early April. Orders are already coming in, so we ask of established clients and new customers to get in touch as soon as possible.
If you are new to Mother’s Garden and want to join the growing number of people enjoying our fresh arbequina extra virgin olive oil, the simplest ways are to email us – firstname.lastname@example.org – or place an order through our online shop. We do not action your Google Checkout payment to us until we know you have received your olive oil.
Meanwhile, on the farm, we have finished pruning the vines and our attention is turning to the olive and other fruit trees, vegetable garden and the holiday cottage. Our first holiday guests of 2011 arrive on April 2.
See our holiday page for details.
Christmas treat for foodies – the Mother’s Garden Beaujolais-style, new harvest olive oil run, with book launch