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Benfeita
All Year: mainly April to October
Area (ha): 2.5
Persons: up to 6
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 35687
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: July 7, 2016

This is an off-grid permaculture project of 2.5ha in the foothills of the Serra do Açor near the village of Benfeita. It's an evolving education and demonstration site for many aspects of sustainable living with the emphasis on the 'evolving' right now. The land is steeply terraced with vegetable gardens, fruit trees and vines, some olives, chestnut woodland, a stream, ponds and ancient stone-built waterways, a developing biodome with aquaponics system, a coniferous plantation under conversion to deciduous woodland, a growing food forest, and several buildings being constructed and renovated using natural materials and techniques.

I'm also working with the local council (concelho) on the design and implementation of vermicomposting sanitation systems based on the one I built here. This is open source technology and has great potential in this mountainous region for returning the waterways to pristine purity. Anyone interested in sustainable sanitation is welcome to come and study this as part of their volunteering experience.

I'm 7 years into the project now and while basic facilities are in place, there's a lot still to do to fully implement the permaculture design into the growing areas and complete building work. Work here is likely to involve any combination of digging, hauling, clearing land, poultry care, pruning, weeding, watering, sowing, planting, harvesting, cooking, preserving, laundry, cleaning, planting trees, felling trees, cutting and chopping firewood, chipping mulch, construction and building work, and helping out with the courses here.

There's a growing international community of off-grid eco-immigrants in the area with many artists, craftworkers and musicians, so the social life here can be good. There are frequent community events, including permablitz-style workdays on each other's land which volunteers are welcome to join. The quinta is 300m from the summer river beach and café in the village and the surrounding area contains an indigenous forest reserve, waterfalls and many walks through the farmland and forests.

See the website for more details of the site and the work being done here. If you're interested in volunteering here, please make sure you've read the volunteering guidelines on the website in full before making contact and contact me direct from the website rather than through this site. Minimum stay is one month.

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