Barril de Alva
All Year: May to October
Area (ha): 5
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 56391
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Last Updated: February 6, 2017
We are a young Portuguese family of three dreamers, Rita and Pedro (both 40) and beautiful baby Leo (1) who have decided to trade a conventional lifestyle for an existence close to Nature, based on what we believe is a highly valuable life philosophy and remains our day-to-day inspiration since we have come across it some 7 years ago: permaculture.
We have bought our piece of land two years ago and intend to turn it into our off-grid, highly productive little piece of paradise towards self-sufficiency, growing our own food, producing our own energy, crafting our own tools, using our own water, regenerating the soil and surrounding forests, expanding our own seed bank, creating sustainable possibilities to generate income. More than a life-lasting project, we see it as our tribute, our manifestation of Love to Mother Earth, as well as a further step into a life focused on resilience and healthy interdependency.
Our piece of land:
It comprises approximately 5ha and is located near Coja. The land is emerged in this beautiful enchanted valley which managed to preserve considerable areas of local tree varieties such as oak, cork oak, chestnut, "medronho" trees, amongst others. In our land there are some fruit trees offering their harvest, yet we intend to plant many more. One of its most magical corners is the forest along the stream which turns the landscape into something really unique. Breathtaking views from Serra do Açor make us feel extremely blessed every day. Access possible with car/bike. The village is 900m away.
A little bit about us:
We are fascinated by the true magic of Life and cherish every day. We aim at developing our full potential as human beings, as parts of the Cosmos having a earthly experience, and believe we can evolve together, by sharing, by learning, by loving. Besides permaculture, we are passionate about trees, alternative lifestyles, raw food, fermentation techniques, edible and medicinal plants, carpentry, birth humanization, parenthood and children education, meditation, yoga, spiritual and physical movement.
Our choice of living strictly vegetarian reflects a very conscious process of awareness towards the role of beings in relation to one another. Every being has a specific role to play within the ecosystem and needs to be respected as such. We perceive our plot as a space where this rule of Nature is lived upon every day.
We see ourselves as very open, warm-hearted people who really enjoy company. We have so much in mind to accomplish that we feel it could be extremely enriching for volunteers to stay at our land and learn along with us. We have some valuable experience which we have gathered through living and working at other projects we would love to share and expect to absorb a lot of what other people bring in their luggage.
In the area there is a huge community of like-minded people from all over the world who organise events, workshops, gatherings on a regular basis. Besides that, there is a considerably high number of children, an outstanding fact amongst the Portuguese rural (and even urban) reality. There is even an inspiring Waldorf school at the village which is up and running!
Be prepared to embark on a journey of knowledge, vivacity, alternative thinking and joy of living!
We have so far devoted a lot of energy to our plot, yet things are still at the beginning. We have so many wonderful ideas and would like to open our marvelous space and offer the opportunity for helpers to join us in accomplishing our beautiful dream.
Our exciting short-term priorities are:
* Restoring one ruin;
* Building additional rooms to the ruin using natural, eco-building techniques (cordwood, cob, amongst others);
* Improving existing main infra-structure;
* Finishing last details of compost toilet;
* Clearing the land of over 30-year-old brambles and other vegetation;
* Enhancing and maintaining food production capabilities (vegetable garden with raised beds which will hopefully be already initiated until May);
* Co-creating and taking care of our food forest;
* Watering fruit trees, especially during Summer, until a proper irrigation system is in place;
* Collecting firewood for Winter.
There are always other tasks which might arise. Life at a farm can be very unpredictable!
We believe all tasks should be shared as this brings us together as a real team. Our idea is that everyone helps out in meal preparation and kitchen maintenance.
Working schedule will be defined according to tasks and climate.
Both skilled and unskilled helpers are welcome. We prefer guests to stay for a minimum of two weeks.
We speak Portuguese, English, German, French, little bit of Italian and Spanish.
We provide a two-room tent in the shadow of a magical forest and appropriate mattresses. If needed, some blankets can also be offered. We have running water and solar electricity onsite. Outside kitchen with gas cook is also available. Washing facilities include solar shower (outdoors) and a washing sink. Compost toilet available.
We offer nourishing vegetarian, mostly organic meals (breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner) on working days and encourage foraging.
In terms of transportation, we can pick up at the nearest bus stop. Against a small fee, we can also pick up at the nearest train station (around 35km away).
We also cherish leisure and free time a lot and believe it is important to achieve a healthy balance, especially if the weather is hot. Stunning river beaches (Urtigal, Coja, Casal Novo) can be easily reached. Possibilities to relax and enjoy or, if one prefers to move, to swim or use our canoe or SUP/paddle board. Around the area there are incredibly beautiful places to explore such as the waterfall of Fraga da Pena or the mountains of Açor and Serra da Estrela.
Shopping amenities are very close by. One can choose between the village of Coja (5km) or small towns such as Tábua, Arganil or Oliveira do Hospital (all less than 15km away).
There are some crucial aspects which we would request you to absorb before choosing to stay with us:
+ We are strict vegetarians and our plot reflects that choice. We prefer not to have anything else as food apart from vegetarian elements being prepared and consumed onsite. We would request this to be fully respected as this is really essential for us.
+ We are non-smokers and would prefer to keep the environment around us free of smoke. If you are a smoker, we will offer a specific area we kindly ask you to use very consciously, especially throughout the dry months.
+ There is no fully-functioning greywater system installed. We see water and soil as two sacred elements of Mother Nature and intend to respect them as much as possible. This means that we can only allow purely natural products as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Should you not have the possibility to bring those, we are more than happy to share what we use for ourselves.
We would also advise you to refrain from applying any cosmetics to your skin (creams, sun protectors, etc) which are not organic as these are washed away in the shower and go straight to the Earth.
+ We value harmony and openness in relationships. We try to live according to the idea of Non-Violent Communication and believe in the power of the Word. We are students in life in a continuous learning process, but some lessons are already part of our daily life: we choose to communicate peacefully, without recurring to swear words.
+ Living fully off-grid brings a different awareness as far as resource management is concerned. Drinkable water must be collected at several local sources, hot water during Summer is solar-produced, electricity is also solar-powered, tap water comes from a well through mechanical tools and needs to be respected. This means a high level of mindfulness in dealing with what is limited must be part of our daily priorities.
+ We request our volunteers not to consume any substances which might lead to mind alteration. This includes both allowed and forbidden drugs such as alcohol and psychoactive substances.
If you can identify with all this, please do come and be a present in our lives! We will make our best to care of you and make you feel great!