You are welcomed to stay in this flourishing land, next to the mountains of Serra de Estrella in central Portugal. We live in a valley with the clean and fresh water of the Alva river, and an apple orchard of about 1000 trees.
Our dream is to create a thriving ecosystem, providing as much for us than for all the wild life.
We started the project 3 year ago. We are restoring the orchard, rebuilding the old house, replanting part of the land and establishing a productive permaculture garden and food forest. We are now Certified Organic, so we can sell our produce in the local organic shop.
We are a young family with 2 kids. We are looking as much for people with experience and skills to share, as well as newcomers that want to expand their world view and are curious about alternative life style.
~~Poles of the project~~
Food forest and veggie garden :
To make a food forest is to create a diverse, resilient, low-maintnance eco-system that incorporate directly useful plants and mushrooms(fruits, edible plants, medicinal plants, building material, firewood...) and indirectly useful plants (that provide habitat for the wildlife, support other plant, bring nutrients to the soil, etc).
The land was once a monocrop of apple trees. Only a small portion of this monocrop survive the wildfires of the last decade. We are pruning back the trees into a productive shape, and bringing diversity by replacing dead trees with other species.
Mycelium and mushroom
Making use of the wonderful potential mushroom offer us, as a source of food and medicine. By inoculating woodchips and organic matteer with useful mycelium, we adding a valuable ressource to our garden.
Investigating the best way to bring back native forest in a bruned meditarrean landscape. Reforestation is a difficult challenge , and is not about “planting trees” as most people genuinly believe. It is a natural process that can be helped but not forced; the shrub layer needs to develop first, to provide shade and water-retention necessary for the tree to survive the dry summers. But climate change and the unatural frequency of manmade fire make this process difficult.
Organic matter management
We are developping a close-loop ecosystem where no organic mateer needs to be imported from outside. Thanks to a little tractor, we can harvest easily the green vegetation on the paths and access ways. But our main strategy is to make good use of the invasive Mimosa Tree that has already took over part of the land. Most local people hate this tree, that can take over a land in only a few years. But hate doesn't help to solve anything, and no plant should be hated anyway. The mimosa is fixing nurtient in the ground and help to restaure the humus layer after the fires. In fact, it thrives only where there's nothing else doing the job. So I rather see the mimosa as a “difficult friend” , which can be used to make woodchips and as a transition towards a more diverse and native forest.
The house is totally off-grid. The electricity is produced by a photovolatic system. The excess electricity that is produces in the summer is used to pump water up the land and to water the landscape.
He house is heated by the woodburner, and all the wood is harvested on the land, from dead trees and pruned trees.
The water is heated by thermo panels on the roof ; or by the woodburner in the winter.
The only use of fossil fuel is for cooking and for the vehicles.
We are blessed by wonderful neighbours that formed strong link and help each other. Without this community, not much would have been possible. The sum of all our skill excess by far what each individual could achieve. We organize regularly collective workdays, seeds or seedling exchanges, and parties of course :)
Spirituality / evolution of consciousness
Reshaping our relationship with our environment and ourself. Permaculture is a doorway into a much wider process, inviting to see the role of Human in Nature differently. This implies a self-transformatio and an understanding of our inter-connectivness. During our spare time, we might share some of our tools : meditation, yoga, shamanic ceremonies, drumming, ...
The project is still fairly new, but in longterm I wish for it to become a source of inspiration and knowledge for other new projects in the area.
On the other hand , the kids are going to a Steiner/warldorf daycare, and a project of an alternative school is being developped right now in the next village, with the hope of providing a more holistic education for the children of the area.
Making good use of the plants for healing colds, burns, contusions, insect bites, etc ; we are making use of many wildplants. And we added some valuable plant in the garden. Making tincture or oil base extraction to preserve them and be able to use them all year round.
Tasty and Healthy food! Fresh from the garden as much as possible!
We buy our grocery at a local organic shop – 95% of the food we serve is organic. I'm sure you will enjoy the food experience here :)
DIY and building projects
Babysitting and creative play
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
You can learn about :
-philosophy and basics of permaculture
-nutrient cycle in the ecosystem
-Wild plants, wild edibles
-mushroom identification and picking (october-march)
-ground covers, nitrogen fixers, soil restauration
-working with wood, lime mortars and stone, making solar dryer, installing irrigation systems,...
If interested : spiritual practice
-meditation, shamanic journey, kundalini yoga, plant medicines
More generally, the project is part of a global experiment for alternative life style. Portugal is a "hot spot", with a dense network of people trying to re establish a relationship with nature and a more respectful and fulfilling way of living. Being here is being part of this experiment.
Gardening : helping establishing a permaculture eden. Include :
-planting trees and veggies
-mulching (covering the ground with organic matter to nourish and protect it)
-making wood chips
-harvesting fruits, veggies and wild plants
-digging a pound and making earth work for water conservation
-Restoration of a 100 year old stone ruin, using wood, lime mortar, etc
-Building a greenhouse
-Bettering the irrigation system
General help with daily life task :
-cooking and cleaning
-playing with the kids
Note : in the summer, there's less to do in the garden than in other seasons. Generally, you will work half time in the garden, half time in building the house/ restauring and helping with daily life :)
Project this August 2020 : making earth floor
You will get a beautiful shaded spot to camp along the river - we provide you with the tent and gears if needed.
You will be provided 3 (vegetarian) meals a day. 99% Organic food from a local shop.
We can cook vegan food if needed. We expect you to help with cooking and cleaning the kitchen.
Please enjoy :
-the beautiful river on the land, for swimming or relaxing on the beach
-the wonderful neighboring comunity that can add to your social life, share music, make parties and ceremonies (all accessible walking)
-the Nature all around, and the mountains (with the highest point of portugal 30km away)
-the beautiful old village of Sandomil, and the lovely rural portuguese culture
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
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