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Pena, Gois
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1.2
Persons: 5
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 41269
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: September 19, 2020

Help with natural building work on off-grid eco-project in the mountains of central Portugal!


*At the moment we are mostly concentrating on construction work, using some natural building techniques, like cobbing (using clay, sand, straw and water), lime plastering, rammed earth, sourcing materials from the land, from nearby or recycling used materials. We are using cement when necessary. This can be physically demanding work, but rewarding for people who are interested in developing skills and experience in this area. Current volunteer accommodation is in tents, which can be provided*

Early days on an ecological project to create a working model of accessible sustainability in the mountains of central Portugal. The evolving concept is to experiment with, develop and share techniques of natural building, regenerative agriculture and healthy living. This may include aspects of sustainable/alternative energy production, food production, passive solar energy, food forest development, forest management, vermiculture, water management, humane animal partnership and community integration.

There are two roles that need filling:

1) Volunteer to help with building work, grounds maintenance, animal care and sharing household chores. Five hours per day, five days per week, in exchange for three meals per day and camping accommodation.

2) Long term partner(s) to join us in this project, possibly starting as a volunteer and eventually building their own accommodation on the property.

Looking for: a mature and health conscious person or couple who wants to live in a rural environment to help build, maintain and operate an eco-project on a long-term to permanent basis. Priority will be given to those who embrace physical activity and routine, communicate well, are emotionally stable, are reliable (can be left in charge), prefer to wake and sleep early (with the sun), are empathetic, adaptable to a variety of weather conditions, and tidy.

Daily chores we share include cooking, cleaning, care and feeding of animals (may involve handling meat), splitting and carrying firewood, etc. Infrastructure building work is ongoing as is land clearing and maintenance. One should be keen to speak the language of the country in which one lives.

Closest village is a twenty minute walk. Closest town is a twenty minute drive. Site is along a hiking trail that is used fairly regularly by local and international tourists and even a local goat herd. Wild boar, deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, various birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and an array of insects populate the surrounding forests and streams. The property is half encircled by a mountain stream that runs all year round. The main stone building is hundreds of years old and would've originally been used to house goats and straw, as well as, possibly, seasonal workers. I was told that there was some kind of nudist colony using the land in the 80's, but eventually angered locals by breaking into (and thereby damaging) the beehives that were kept nearby. The trees that were growing inside the building have been removed, the floor dug down and a proper, fairly traditional, stone floor put in. It now has a new roof and the walls have been rendered with a clay mixture, outside. A rocket mass heater has been installed for heat and most cooking. Butane is also used for cooking for the moment with a plan to phase it out, eventually. The inside of the house has been completely cobbed and limed. The wooden parts of the building (beams, floors, stairs, etc.) have been treated with borax and then either linseed oil or limewash. Besides the main building (which is actually a combination of two), a tool shed has been built, as well as a footbridge over the stream, a large covered area that serves as a wood storage/splitting area and a cabin to house chickens, ducks and possibly rabbits, has been started, all using wood from the land and local area. An extension of the house is in the process of being built, which will ultimately contain: An indoor dry compost toilet (currently using a little outdoor hut), an indoor shower (currently using outdoor bucket shower or bathing in the stream), a bidet, laundry facilities and more. A basic garden has been put together with the slash cut from around the house and the dirt that was dug out from floor and from a trough around the house. Some fruit trees have been planted. An electric pump for irrigation and household water has been set up and is working well, but a more permanent water tank will eventually be built, on higher ground to increase household water pressure. We now have a passive solar hot water heater for the many sunny days.

Ultimately, more land needs to be cleared, more gardens set up, more trees planted, and more irrigation systems set up. There is a photovoltaic system for solar energy and WiFi available in the house on a scheduled basis, as the signal is beamed into the valley from our own solar powered mountainside WiFi station on a timer. We're on a fixed data plan and consumption is limited, so no streaming Netflix or YouTube, sorry. Besides the humans, there are two dogs and two cats living in the house.

We are a couple, Fiona and 'J'm.

'J'm is a semi-retired musician from Canada who lived in the UK for several years. He plays gigs, now and then, locally, mostly with British ex-pats. Health is his primary motivation for living in this way, so he's pretty clean living (teetotal, straight edge). His personal philosophies are secular, though he is accepting of others' spirituality. Politically, he is interested in Anarcho-syndicalism, Agrarianism, Democracy (in its true sense). 'J'm is a big fan of film and some series and enjoys listening to podcasts and audio books while doing some menial tasks .

Fiona is a full-time academic lecturer and researcher who grew up and studied in Greece and the UK, as well as further studies in Austria, Italy and New Zealand. Fiona is passionate about cooking, folk dancing, cultural exchange, tourism, hiking, animals and various arts and crafts.

'J'm is an English speaker, is learning Portuguese and has studied a little French and Spanish, in the past. Fiona is fluent in English and Greek, but has also studied Portuguese and German.

For the moment, accommodation will be in tents. More accommodation building is planned. Food is most often vegetarian, simple and healthy.

What else ...
There are some nice swimming spots in the area. Plenty of scenery in the mountains. Many places to walk/hike. Occasional parties and live music in the area.

[[LGBTQIA friendly]]

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