Pharming, Meditation, Sustainable Tourism and Agriculture

Jan M. Keppel Hesselink, MD, PhD,  Bosch en Duin, the Netherlands

Satyendra Gunjar, Tourism specialist, Puna, India

Introduction – the Emergence of an Idea

In 2018 Satyendra Gunjar and Jan Keppel Hesselink met in Puna, India, during a long meditation retreat Jan attended. During some months Jan and Satyendra brainstormed on a project which will create new imp

ulses for reaching a sustainable agriculture and tourism, where people live in harmony with our earth and each other.

Jan, a Dutch MD and biologist with ecological training, as well as a meditator, focusses on holistic medicine and agriculture. He is owner of a 200+ year old Farm on 2.5 ha property in the southern part of Portugal, the Quinta Quixote (QQ). Jan also teaches Vedic Philosophy based on the original Upanishads and mantra’s and created a specialized website for this topic:

Satyendra, a specialist in small scale tourism and Indian by origin, focusses on sustainable tourism. He is owner of an organization for specialized local tourism and a website ‘SWEN travel

Together they created a project: Pharming, Meditation and Sustainable Tourism and Agriculture. The project is part of an international network for sustainable agriculture: International Permaculture Worldwide Network.



The Logo of the Quinta Quixote is based on an old statue found at the Quinta of the goddess Thetis. Thetis was the mother of the hero Achilles and she is protector of the sea and earth. It is her face looking through the letter Q of the Quinta Quixote. Don Quixote was the hero in the novel of Cervantes, one of the most read novelists in the world. Don Quixote is the symbol of a new way of looking at our culture, and his world views are an illustration of the essence of Advaita, outlined in this website.

The project: Pharming, Meditation and Sustainable Agriculture at the Quinta Quixote

In the first half of 2019 the concrete base for the project was created, and a 2.5 hectare property was acquired, in the east Algarve, Portugal. The farm, an old Portuguese Quinta is situated in a rural low mountain area 25 minutes’ drive from Faro and the coast, in the quit area near the little town Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo.

Both people in the Western part of the world, as well as in India are increasingly interested in questions related as how to achieve optimal balance in our lives, in our body and how to live in harmony with each other and with our earth, in a sustainable context.

Quinta Quixote vanaf de Noorder Heuvel gezien

Quinta Quixote seen from the Stupa Hill of the North: a complex with the old Farm, the Bodega, the meditation circle and Yoga hall and the stables

By combining a special variety of agriculture, based on ecological principles (PermaCulture) with a meditative state of being based on the Indian Advaita philosophy, Jan and Satyendra belief a platform can be created for a harmonious future.

Comparable projects have been developed in the past, such as the Magic Findhorn project, and are examples of the integration of old wisdom in our current culture. The Findhorn experiment for instance is holder of the  UN Habitat Best Practice designation and is co-founder of the Global Ecovillage Network and Holistic Centres Network.

Jan and Satyendra are working together to re-create and re-design a blueprint of a sustainable society based on mutual respect and grounded in the principles of ecolological agriculture and the Indian Advaita principle.

Pharming has always been one the fundaments of meditation, in Zen and Sufi traditions the highest state of being is described as ‘chopping wood’ and ‘making tea’. At the Quinta many small meditative projects have been started, combining hands-on, cooperation between people and the meditative state. Each project contributes to the whole ‘well-being’ of the persons involved and the Quinta as a whole. Already in the first month’s a number of projects are started and finished, based on an optimal flow and interaction between people not knowing each other before, joined in activity and meditation. We will describe 3 projects in some detail.

The ancient wall in the mountain

On the Western Mountain, an old structure has been build, a circle and a semi-crescent wall where farmers in the distant past worked to prepare the grain.  The wall had crumbled due to heavy rains and the structure was collapsed. This wall was a clear example of the building techniques from the past, and is based on a mosaic of stones and pebbles from local origin. First the entire collapsed wall and the earth covering it was removed and stone by stone the wall was resurrected. As a symbol of the unity one of the old mill stones was brought into the wall at a central place, to indicate holism. This project was led by one of the visitors of the Quinta, who stayed for a month to oversee and contribute to this project. After completion, the round structure and its wall are used as a perfect place for yoga and qigong.


The old mozaic wall of the magic circle at the West Hill restored by Theo

The small-scale Portuguese Bean – Leek project

At the stables a round and open area, protected against too much wind and sun, is optimally suited to grow vegetables. As a result of the cooperation between 2 guests of the Quinta wooden protecting containers were build, without a bottom, to rest directly on the ground, and were filled with compost and earth. In each container, local beans were sewn, and leek, as mixed cultures have been found to be more resistant to damage by insects.

The Sweet Potato Project


Seedlings of Portugese Bean and one sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are known for its nutritious character, and this health food has supportive properties to combat diabetes mellitus type 2. In the same wooden protecting containers, the first local varieties of sweet potato were planted by an agricultural engineer, who published a PhD on sweet potatoes (Dr Ernst Ebregt). Ernst, together with Jan, are overseeing this project. The focus on medicinal properties of the sweet potato are part of the project, and a scientific paper is in preparation, together with 2 more PhD specialists (Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) as a nutritional medicinal plant and its relevance for the treatment of diabetes in the sub-Saharan Africa and India).

Future Plans

 Satyendra and Jan in 2019 will create a platform based on their websites and the Quinta, to prepare for small-scale tourism/education and will invite Indian as well as European guests to the Quinta, to cooperate with each other, in the field of pharming – sustainable agriculture based on principle of the Indian Advaita philosophy and the Permaculture (ecological agriculture). A team of specialized scientists in this field are supporting and leading subprojects. Some of the examples are outlined above. The first workshops have been organized and finalized and further workshops are planned for the coming years.

For more information see websites:

Quinta Quixote

Post scriptum” Quixotism according to Unamuno

The approach at the QQ is also based based on quixotism: The scientist professor Unamuno (Rector of the University of Salamanca) contrasts quixotism, the idealism of Don Quixote, with conventional beliefs about wisdom to create a criticism of both the intellectuals of his own time period and traditional beliefs about intellectualism, reason, and sanity as concepts in general. Don Quixote’s approach of life is an expression of his creativity and courage, as well as a method for inciting change in the world. Intelligence and morality are inseparable, and an individual who is truly intellectual is also generous, humble, and faithful.

see: Sarah Driggers. The Importance of Quixotism in the Philosophy of Miguel de Unamuno. Thesis at the University of Tennessee, USA.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) created a special philosophy based on Cervantes’s well known book, known under the term ‘quixotism’.

Quixotism rejects the traditional emphasis on academic logic in favor of curiosity emphasizing the role of the individual in defining what is possible and shaping a new reality, as worded by Sarah Driggers, who wrote a thesis on the work of Unamuno. Quixotists are the passionate and willful creators of their own destinies, according to Driggers. She highlights the potential of Quixotism to serve as a mechanism of social change, stretching the limits of the possible.

Quixotic wisdom responds always to the demands of the present moment, and is never based on impartial intellectualism. It is the philosophy we follow at the Quinta Quixote!

The Importance of Quixotism in the Philosophy of Miguel de Unamun

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