Harriet Ryder and Mauro Gestoso, a couple whose journey has brought them to the tranquil landscapes of Castellón, Spain, and transformed them into the stewards of a flourishing farmstead.
Hailing from diverse backgrounds, Harriet, an English native, and Mauro, originally from Argentina, united their lives in England during a programming course back in 2016. Both software developers by trade, their shared love for technology was rivaled only by their shared aspiration for a life removed from the urban hustle—a life that embraced simplicity, sustainability, and the art of permaculture.
After five years in the UK, the couple sought a change—a life that aligned with their values and aspirations. Their quest led them to the charming landscapes of Castellón, where they stumbled upon a promising plot of land. A 4-acre smallholding awaited their touch, offering the canvas for their dreams to flourish.
It was their honeymoon escapade to Castellón in 2019 that serendipitously planted the seeds of change. Struck by the beauty of the region and motivated by their concern for rural depopulation, the couple found themselves irresistibly drawn to this corner of the world. Nestled in La Pou de Beca near Vall d’Alba, the allure of the land captured their hearts, igniting a dream that would soon become reality.
Their journey commenced in February 2021—a journey characterized by enthusiasm, exploration, and the pursuit of knowledge. As relative newcomers to farming, Harriet and Mauro embraced their roles as hortelanos (Spanish for gardeners) with eagerness. Every day became an opportunity to learn, adapt, and apply their burgeoning expertise to the land they had come to cherish.
Harriet Ryder and Mauro Gestoso: The Unique Story Of How Two Software Developers Became Full-Time Content Creators
Cultivating Dreams and Embracing Permaculture
Their vision was simple but profound—a life in the countryside, away from the mainstream, where they could nurture their passions and reconnect with nature. They envisioned a space resonating with permaculture principles, where the rhythm of nature takes precedence, and sustainability is paramount.
“Permaculture is a type of agricultural design system, with connotations -in turn- social, political, and economic. At its base are the principles of the natural ecosystem, where an attempt is made to follow the natural environmental rhythms appropriately, without forcing them at any time. Likewise, its base is to take care of the earth, take care of people, and share fairly.”
After the transformative trip to Castellón, Harriet, and Mauro recognized that this was the canvas on which they could paint their dreams. The ample land, favorable climate, and welcoming community sealed the deal, prompting them to invest in a farm of approximately 2 hectares situated between les Useres and Vall d’Alba—a dream that took shape just a year after their honeymoon.
The journey was not without challenges. The farm required extensive rehabilitation, and the adjoining land demanded revitalization to restore its fertility. However, this labor of love was met with enthusiasm. The couple embraced the process wholeheartedly, understanding that their efforts would bear fruit in due time.
“This has involved a lot of work, and we still have more to do, but we don’t care at all, since it was exactly what we wanted, we are enjoying the process,” clarifies the couple, who also confesses that: “Our goal would be to live from the fields, with all organic products, although it is a bit complicated because we should produce much more and we are currently both working”.
Harriet and Mauro’s vision for their farmstead transcends a mere pursuit of self-sufficiency. While both maintained full-time jobs at one point—Mauro in the technology realm and Harriet as a software developer—Harriet is now working as a full-time content creator and YouTube vlogger.
Undoubtedly, the journey they embarked on has been a shared effort, with their farmstead becoming a community hub. Their neighbors, equally enamored with the region, partake in a reciprocal arrangement—a ‘work share.’ Every Friday, they gather on one another’s farms, lending helping hands, tools, and camaraderie. Through this collaborative approach, Harriet and Mauro find themselves in a continuous learning cycle, adapting their practices to the nuances of the land and climate.
A Vision of Restoration and Renewal
Harriet and Mauro’s farmstead unfolds like a tapestry of sustainable living and mindful restoration. Their ambitions are as diverse as the terraces they cultivate, each corner offering potential for growth and transformation. The farmstead’s heart beats with the promise of self-sustenance and community, all anchored in the embrace of permaculture principles.
“We are currently running our smallholding organically (not certified) and we are inspired by the collection of techniques and practices generally bundled under the terms of ‘permaculture’ and ‘regenerative agriculture’. We are also interested in natural building and fiber crafts and hope to soon have the time and resources to develop these interests further.”
But the path to sustainable living is not without its challenges. Harriet and Mauro wholeheartedly embrace the off-grid lifestyle, powered by solar panels, spring water, and wood-fired heating. Their commitment to minimal environmental impact extends to their construction practices, where they source scrap and salvaged materials and employ natural building methods.
From Newsletter to YouTube
But the couple’s journey isn’t confined to the physical boundaries of their land. Harriet and Mauro have embraced the digital realm as a platform to share their experiences, connect with others, and inspire sustainable living. It began with a simple newsletter meant to keep family and friends updated on their progress. This evolved into a creative venture, as they documented their land’s evolution through vlogs on a YouTube channel.
Transitioning their on-the-ground efforts to the online space, Harriet and Mauro ventured into the world of digital connection. They initially started with a newsletter meant to keep their loved ones updated on their farm’s progress. This digital journaling quickly grew into a creative outlet, as they decided to document their land’s transformation through vlogs on a dedicated YouTube channel.
“When they arrived in these lands they had the idea of creating a newsletter to keep their family and friends informed from a distance of how the construction process of their farm was going. This ended up leading to the idea of recording the evolution of their land and that’s when they thought it might be more practical to make vlogs and upload them to a YouTube channel.”
However, just like their physical farmstead journey faced unexpected delays, their digital path also hit a snag. The couple’s venture into vlogging coincided with a necessary process of transitioning their YouTube income payments from the UK to a Spanish bank account. This logistical move was intended to streamline tax payments and administration. Unfortunately, the switch triggered a disruption in their YouTube monetization.
The AdSense account associated with their YouTube channel needed to be switched, a process that typically takes a few days. During this transition, their channel enters a “limbo” state where their income from ads is turned off. What was anticipated to be a swift transition has stretched into a longer period, due to unforeseen complications.
The unintended consequence of this income pause is the couple’s inability to earn from their videos, despite ads still being placed by YouTube. Harriet reflects on the dilemma, stating that while they could upload videos, it wouldn’t make sense since the generated income would be retained by YouTube, not them.
Despite this setback, Harriet and Mauro remain resolute in making the most of this challenging situation. They’re using the pause in income to invest in their future content, focusing on creating high-quality videos for their audience. They’re also considering branching out into other creative ventures, like making Shorts or Reels for Instagram, areas they’ve wanted to explore.
Their YouTube channel, initially a documentation of their journey, has transformed into an active community. Through their vlogs and videos, they share their accomplishments, obstacles, and victories, inviting a global audience to walk alongside them on their path to sustainability. As they nurture their land and share their voyage, they continue to motivate others to embrace sustainable living, offering a beacon of inspiration and camaraderie.
While they acknowledge that they’re not experts, their genuine passion and authenticity have struck a chord with their virtual community. Their story resonates with those who seek a profound connection with nature and a harmonious way of life. As Harriet and Mauro forge ahead in cultivating their farmstead and recounting their expedition online, they continue to inspire and encourage others to embark on their own journeys toward sustainability, resilience, and existence in balance with the environment.
“We believe that what we are building here must be resilient and sustainable for the future. We want to learn and embody the older, simpler, gentler ways of living – lifeways that work with nature to complement it, not deplete it. Practices that restore some of what has been lost, instead of constantly trying to extract more and more until we’re left with dust and rock. We don’t mind trading a little ‘comfort’ (although we’d say we’re perfectly comfortable!) for the satisfaction of doing as little harm as we can, experiencing the seasons more viscerally, and keeping ourselves fit and healthy by doing things manually instead of with machines.”
In a recent series of YouTube videos, Harriet and Mauro provide an inside look into their ongoing journey of building and living sustainably on their land. The couple has shifted their focus to their kitchen, taking on various challenges to turn it into a functional and aesthetically pleasing space. Here’s a breakdown of their recent adventures:
Losses and a BIG WIN Building Our Homestead in the Spanish Hills
Harriet confronts a surprising issue with the alignment of the window sill and must adjust her plans accordingly. With the guidance of a friend named John, they resolved the problem and reworked the brickwork to ensure a properly aligned window area. The narrative takes an unexpected turn when wild boars enter the scene, leaving behind havoc in the garden. Harriet recounts her efforts to restore the garden beds after the boars’ visit and their decision to fence the garden to prevent further intrusions.
We’re Ripping Apart our House
In this video, the couple shares their experiences with home renovations and their gratitude towards their friends, family, and online community for their support during a challenging period. The video showcases the chaos caused by the ongoing renovations, including furniture covered by tarps, demolished chimneys, and rearranged rooms. Harriet discusses their efforts to rebuild their kitchen, living room, and bedroom after the renovations. The couple expresses their appreciation for the help they received from their mothers, neighbors, and friends, who provided both physical assistance and emotional support during hospital visits and the birth of their baby, along with the challenges and changes that came with it.
Creating an Online Income through Patreon and Kofi
In addition to sharing their home renovation journey and expressing gratitude for the support they’ve received, Harriet and Mauro have also found ways to create an income online through platforms like Patreon and Kofi. These platforms have allowed them to connect with their audience in a meaningful way and receive support for their creative endeavors.
- Patreon: Harriet and Mauro have set up a Patreon account, where supporters can contribute a recurring monthly donation to help sustain their content creation. They express their surprise and gratitude for the generosity of their supporters, especially those who contribute at the highest level. Mauro mentions, “We are always thankful to those who support us at the highest level. It’s just incredibly generous.” This level of support has exceeded their expectations and highlights the strong community that surrounds them.
- Kofi: Additionally, Harriet and Mauro have been recipients of donations through Kofi, a platform where people can buy them a “coffee” as a form of support. The couple is humbled by the generosity of those who have sent donations, even referring to some as being “way too generous.” They acknowledge that they never expected such support but are incredibly grateful for the kindness they’ve received from their online community.
Through these platforms, Harriet and Mauro are able to fund their creative projects, share their experiences, and receive financial support from their audience. They are grateful for the various ways in which their community has come together to support their journey, whether it’s through comments, donations, or even handcrafted gifts. As they express their thanks for all the support they’ve received, they reflect on the ways in which these platforms have enriched their lives and allowed them to continue pursuing their passions.
In addition to their endeavors on Patreon and Kofi, Harriet has also cultivated a thriving online presence through her Instagram account, which now boasts over 5,904 followers. Through their videos and social media engagement, Harriet and Mauro have managed to create a tight-knit community of supporters who are deeply invested in their journey.
Harriet Ryder and Mauro Gestoso’s story exemplifies the profound impact of following one’s dreams and aligning life with values. Their journey from two different worlds to a harmonious partnership, from software development to sustainable farming, and from digital channels to community engagement, showcases the power of determination, unity, and the pursuit of a purposeful life.
As the couple tends to their flourishing farmstead, they are not only nurturing the land but also sowing seeds of change and inspiration. Their journey serves as a reminder that dreams are within reach when nurtured with dedication, resilience, and a willingness to learn. The “little.spanish.farmstead” is not just a piece of land—it’s a testament to the potential of individuals to transform their lives and the landscapes they inhabit.