help exchange   Host 35687
Home   About   FAQ's   Testimonials   Feedback   Insurance   Companions   Posters  
Australia   New Zealand   Europe   Canada   USA   International   log-in
Help Exchange

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

Note: Please login or register if you wish to see all full size photos and part reviews. You will also require to upgrade to premier membership in order to view contact details, weblinks and complete reviews.

Last Updated: March 2, 2019

This is an off-grid permaculture project of 2ha 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 and I'm 9 years into the project 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.

In 2017 the various buildings, the geodome greenhouse and the permaculture design work were all coming into the final phases of completion. Then in October we, along with countless others throughout Central Portugal, were hit by the unprecedented and catastrophic wildfires which burned 2,000 square kilometres over the course of just 24 hours. I lost all my guest and volunteer accommodation and facilities, the geodome greenhouse and part of the cob bathroom, as well as countless trees, tools, etc. But I was one of the luckier ones. Many lost their homes. Some lost their lives.

So now we start again.

As was the case last year, I'm looking for some very special people this year. People who are willing to forego the opportunity to stay and work in all the stunning places available to you worldwide to be part of a workforce helping a still-beautiful but devastated region on its long road to recovery. We had an incredible response last year and some wonderful people coming through the quinta. (Some of our volunteers loved it so much they never left and now have their own places in the valleys, so be warned – this place can capture your heart and your imagination.)

The priorities this year include preparing the quinta for 6 weeks of courses in June and July. We will be creating camping pitches and completing the communal kitchen, so there will be a lot of building work, involving natural (re)building and developing sustainable infrastructure. There's also the opportunity to immerse yourself in the many aspects of a maturing permaculture project, albeit a rather damaged one at present. This can involve any combination of digging, hauling, clearing land, collecting goat manure, poultry care, pruning, weeding, watering, sowing, planting, harvesting, cooking, preserving, laundry, cleaning, planting trees, felling trees, and cutting and chopping firewood.

I have also been working with the local council (concelho) in recent years on the design and implementation of vermicomposting sanitation systems based on the one I built here. I have open sourced the technology. It 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. It's possible I'll be installing another system here during the course of the year.

We managed to repair the one caravan which didn't burn so I can now offer accommodation again. Volunteers can also bring their own - a camper van or tent. We have rudimentary kitchen facilities set up under cover. The water supply has been re-plumbed, so there is water onsite. There's also solar electricity. And hot showers - the bathroom partly burned, but the fire didn't get into the interior and it's now just awaiting a final plastering to complete repairs.

The fires have also consumed all my financial resources, so I'm afraid I can't offer food beyond what we can produce here on the quinta.

There's a growing international community of off-grid eco-immigrants in this area with many artists, craftworkers and musicians, so the social life here can be good. We are all recovering from the fires still, and evolving many ways to respond creatively to our situation. 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 cafe in the village and the surrounding area contains an indigenous forest reserve and waterfalls, some of which survived the fires relatively unscathed.

See the website for more details of the site and what is 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.

Back to Top
Copyright © 2001 - 2020, HelpX, All Rights Reserved :: disclaimer :: terms of use