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help exchange   Host 49581
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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1
Persons: 6
Category: Other
Host ID: 49581
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: July 11, 2017

Looking for people now.

We are a family of 3, Erica, Panama and Rufus. Early in 2016 we bought 2 acres of land that sits atop a hill looking out at the Serra do Acor. The view is stunning landscape with hardly a building or a light to be seen. The land faces south and is blessed with about 80 olive trees, 33 fruit trees, cherry, peach, apple, fig, nespera, medronho, quince, yellow plum, apricot, chestnut, nectarine, hazel and sloe and new trees - lemon, lime, apricot, pear. We also have a small wood of eucalyptus, pine and oak. We have a small vineyard of approx 200 vines of mixed wine and table and red and green grapes and have a good sized veg plot. We grow everything organically. We have 2 wells for irrigation and get our drinking water almost daily from the local spring fed fountain. Our power is from solar panels and we have good internet. Our sanitation is basic. We have a compost, dry sawdust toilet and nature pee. Last summer we had an outdoor shower under the cherry tree with water heated by the sun and last winter we set up a basic shower in the shed ruin with an aluminium roof sheet so it is basically outdoors. We heat the water on the stove in the winter and by the sun in the summer. We also drive to a local campsite to have hot indoor showers for 1 euro once a week. We have worked as Helpx volunteers ourselves and have had both excellent and not so excellent experiences and we have drawn on these to hopefully offer a fair and fun work exchange programme.

We aim to tread lightly on the earth and live as sustainably as possible. To live without utility bills and to work and learn with nature.

We have just completed our 1st year so we are still setting up facilities. Until now we have slept in caravans and basically lived outdoors with outside dining and outside sitting areas. In winter those had to be packed away but will be coming out again soon. Panama is now living in her yurt and Rufus is now living in his geodesic dome and by summer Erica will be in a house. So the accommodation we have now is 1x4m caravan and 1 smaller caravan, 2 large tents that will sleep 2 people in each and 2 smaller tents. By mid summer there will be another 4m caravan available too that we are currently renovating. We have spare sleeping bags and quilts.
We provide 3 good ovo-vegan meals. (No animal products except for local organic free range eggs)
self service breakfast of cereals & oat/rice milk, bread & jam, fruit. Coffee
Self service lunch of salad or sandwiches.
Evening meal a large cooked meal, prepared on a rota. Washing up of dishes on a rota.
All food is ovo-vegan (vegan with eggs) strictly no meat or fish allowed on the land but if you desperately miss dairy such as cows milk, cheese, and butter- although we will not provide it or incorporate it into communal meals, you can buy yourself and add to your own plate. But bear in mind that we have no fridge so milk, cheese, do not keep for long and butter turns to liquid in one day in summer. We respectfully request that you do not eat meat or fish whilst here as this will contaminate our humanure compost with pathogens.

We are not really geared for winter volunteers. The caravans do not have heating, we have no indoor communal spaces at the moment and the nights are long and cold. But the weather is normally pleasant enough from April.
General land work - strimming, clearing woodland, collecting firewood, clearing brambles.
Building work Renovating ruined barns, cement work such as laying floors, rendering walls, brickwork,
Plumbing installing a solar shower with a soakaway system for waste water.
Carpentry making garden structures such as pergola, wood store, caravan porch, communal shelter.
Veg Plot preparing ground for planting, laying manure, sowing crops, setting up an irrigation system, weeding, maintenance and watering.
Fruit & Olive trees pruning, picking.
Vineyard repairing training wires and posts, pruning, clearing the land of grass beneath the vines.

This is a learning curve for us and so we welcome volunteers with knowledge to share and skills.
We ask for volunteers who want to help us with jobs on the land but who also want to join in the spirit of our little sustainable, eco minded, family.
We prefer people in pairs just because it's easier for us and more fun for you but obviously single people are welcome. As we are at the start of our adventure there is a lot to do and a lot to build and make, so we are hoping for people with skills building, carpentry, vegetable growing, viticulture, plumbing, electrics, landscaping and construction. Also people happy to get stuck in with forest clearing and strimming and general land maintenance and good old digging.
We need people who are self motivated and pro-active with a positive, willing attitude. We will tell you what we would like you to do, what we expect of you and then we want you to just get on with it.
Initial stay of 1 week, longer is negotiable after that if we are a 'good fit'. Any age is welcome.

Work of 4 hours per day, 8-12am in the summer as it is too hot to work after midday. Hours can be more flexible outside of summer. 5 days per week, Saturday and Sunday as days off but flexible if you want different days off.
There will be a cooking and washing up rota, not included in your working hours quota.
We are very positive and aim to maintain a positive and relaxed environment even though we are working hard.

Because of the HUGE fire risk we have decided not to allow any cigarette smokers to our land.

We are in Central Portugal close to one of the very best river beaches at Av . This is a 1.5 km walk or drive. Nearby towns include Coja, Benfeita, Tabua, Oliveira do Hospital. There is a large international sustainable living community here with an exceedingly good social life. Also a bar in Av which is a meeting hub for the local international community which has live music events of a weekend. The Serra de Estrella mountains are an hours drive to the east and the coast is an hour drive to the west. We are 2 hours from Lisbon and slightly less to Porto. There is a bus stop 2 km away where a bus can take you to Coimbra and then either north towards Porto or south to Lisbon. This bus stop is where we will collect you from when you come to visit, if you come on public transport.
Locally there are numerous walks, waterfalls, river beaches. It's possible to go horse trekking, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking lots to do here.
If you do not have your own transport there is a local bus service but I am happy to drive you somewhere on a day off so that you can experience the out of the way beauty spots.

Head Torch, warm clothes for the evenings, natural toiletries as water from sinks and shower will be used to irrigate, working clothes that do not mind getting dirty.

Sleeping bag, medical kit, sturdy shoes. Your own solar charger for your techie devices as although we have unlimited internet, we do not have unlimited power and can only offer limited charging facilities. If you come in a car a car charger for your devices is well worth having.

This is our family home and we welcome guests into it but bear in mind this is not a business, all work is done at your own risk, we do not have public liability insurance or healthcare. If UK citizen you need an EHIC card in order to claim entitlement to the Portuguese health service. Other nationalities should come with their equivalent healthcare entitlement. If we ask you to do any work that you are not comfortable with, ie you do not feel safe using the strimmer, then just say so. We would much rather you say 'I'm not comfortable doing that', than nervously use a piece of equipment and possibly harm yourself or others.

If you think this would be a place you could contribute to and something you would enjoy and learn from then please contact us.

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