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Arganil Municipality
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 6.6
Persons: 1 or 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 18666
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: June 7, 2020

We are a young gay couple with low impact living ideas - working with goats to clean our lands and explore the mountains - construction in natural materials and have plans to conserve the traditional and sadly reclining numbers of local people engaging with agriculture.

We are continuing our long-term project to diversify and manage a mixed species forest to provide food, fuel, fodder while making provision to allow a healthy ecosystem to thrive by diversity.

In an area where people are too old to work the land and the younger generation of Portuguese are in the city's, we are making an example of how something can thrive if it has good aims, and people work hard - man, woman, child, gay, straight, undecided, Portuguese, estrangeiro - these things don't matter - we are inclusive.


Current focus of work -

Reforestation - most of our forest was recently clear cut of the burnt and decaying pines so we now have a blank canvas to replant. We have Silver Birch, Stone Pine, Red oak, Pyrenees Oak, Cork Oak, Liquidamber, Sycamore, Chestnut and more, one year old seedlings to plant to make a rich and diverse forest to encourage biodiversity.

Construction - We build in the traditional method of extracting stone from the mountain and clay/mud from the earth making dry stone xisto walls - we have new terrace walls to complete, a stairway to access the house, a small extension to the goats shed for a place to collect the milk ( will also make a roof in chestnut beams).
If you have a particular interest in learning the xisto construction method we would make an intensive introduction to the work/method and have personal knowledge, great reference books and lots of projects to teach these skills - its a particular passion of Michaels to develop these skills and pass on the knowledge of this dying ancient tradition.

Vegetable Garden - some of the over winter veg are in but there's more to prepare and plant - its hard for us to always find time for the garden but its Joćos passion and joy. If you have experience and knowledge to share great!if not we can teach you the simple organic methods we use - with some practical experience and many reference books we can teach and inspire you.

Orchard planting - over the wet period we will be planting fruit trees on the terraces to provide shade and cool in the summer heat and a future food source. We plan on planting apples, pears, cherries, almonds, pomegranate, figs and more.

Goats - we keep a herd of biological goats to help maintain and clear our land and forest - they are the tradition method of fire prevention. Its our passion to give the animals as natural a life as possible and its our indulgence to walk them free range over the mountains and valleys using the 100s of hectares of abandoned land.
In return for the care we provide we have fresh milk daily, make cheese with the traditional method (Michael would love to make you a cheese workshop and show you these skills), and a small business selling organic meat.

5 years into the project most of the house and forest was lost in the tragic wildfires of Central Portugal.

We immediately started a reforestation plan to take advantage of the clearer part of the land and will plant Oak, Cederį, Birth, Cork oaks, Chestnut, Cherry, Almond Wall nut and Hazel.

Currently we are planning how to fix our hundreds of years old irrigation system - partially destroyed by the floods following the fire - thick high walls to keep rain water out, dams and pools to hold the fresh spring water, and levadas to direct the water to the places needed.

I have taught myself the basic stonework technique by working with local builders - excavating the stone from the mountain, grade the stones for use and building with a mix of soil and water.

My stonework is improving all the time and I feel I am now at a stage I want to share these skills using natural materials and hand tools.

We keep a herd organic goats that need daily free-range walking that will provide the fresh raw milk to nourish our souls.

We eat very well - using our own grown ingredients where possible - and feel food is the rewards of a hard day's work. Living communally we would all take turns at cooking, and keeping things clean.

Soon we will be deciding which species of trees to plant and where to plant the coming autumn, finalise our water system, put the finishing touches to our house, organising the firewood, cleaning, harvesting and replanting the vegetable gardens.

We have a cool network of people locally even though we live isolated - our sister, nieces and nephews are close by in the village and we have the weird and wonderful set of alternative diggers and dreamers who we help and advise on a daily basis. Plus the wonderful Portuguese locals with their ancient knowledge of how these lands once were.

We are looking for people of an open heart who can give strength and force to our project, who want to be part of our family and experience our daily life.

So if your intrigued and want to know more, just ask, Michael e Joćo

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