Shahnaz (my wife) and myself, Francois, are the proud owners of beautiful quinta nestled at the foot of Serra da Estrela mountain range and national park in Central Portugal. We recently took over this farm that was abandoned for 15 years. We are in the process of reviving it, clearing shrubs and brambles, planting new trees, trying to create a badass veggie garden, inspired by permaculture principles and an ecosystem approach, and in the hopes of becoming more self-sufficient.
We live in an off-grid tiny house, and are renovating three old stone buildings. Part of our vision is to turn this already amazing place into an edible landscape / food forest, increase biodiversity, and strengthen drought resilience.
But we're not the only ones working at the renaissance of our little piece of Portuguese wilderness paradise! Our 5 goats and Mirandese (i.e. very fluffy) donkey work tirelessly - all day, every day, and all week - at savoring all kinds of vegetation, suiting their whims and fancies, while delightfully dispersing their homemade fertilizer (yes, that means poop) in strategic places, chosen randomly.
Our dogs, Mojito and Castanha are an unlimited source of entertainment.
Murdoch and Fuji, the cats, do the usual cat stuff: purr [FEED ME], miaouw, leg-rub [FEED ME], a nap here, scratch the carpet [FEED ME], a bounce there, and repeat [FEED ME][FEED ME][LOVE ME].
Last but not least are our various daredevils quasi free-range birds (chickens, guinea fowl, and ducks) are some of the finest fox escape artists of the whole district. Well, we wish but as we naively noticed once or twice, they're quite low in the food chain (if you forget to lock them in at night).
Help with Eco project
We are quite well integrated in our community; we speak decent Portuguese and regularly go to local shops and events. During your stay with us, you'll have a glimpse at what living in rural Portugal entails.
That said, we also lived in many different places before moving to Portugal, such as New York or La Paz, and we traveled a lot before settling down here. We learned a good deal of homesteading (among other things) along the way, and we enjoy sharing our experience with volunteers and visitors.
Well, we need all kind of help around the quinta - the work follows whatever project(s) we are doing at the moment - on-going examples include clearing and cutting vegetation, shrubs etc.; taking care of the animals; fencing; planting; composting; gardening; and much more.
We don't require special skills and welcome all kinds of experience, as long as you're motivated and don't forget to have fun along the way. However, you get bonus points if you're good at woodwork, building, growing things, training animals, photography, video filming and editing, and... ok nevermind, we are quite open-minded and can probably find a use for almost any skill or interest you have.
English, French, Spanish, survival Dutch and conversational Portuguese
We have a few tents (2 person style) that you could deploy wherever pleases you on the land (think night sky with zero light pollution and so many stars).
We provide mattresses, pillows and sheets - the best is if you bring your sleeping bag. If that's not possible, we'll get creative and find a way to make it work.
We have one outside solar shower with solar-powered hot water that offers privacy (think taking a nice hot shower in a field, surrounded by nature) for the summer months, an indoor shower (soon two!) for colder months, and dry/compost toilets (think throne with a vue).
We cook together and would most likely be sharing most if not all meals.
We're a 20 min walk or 5 min drive to a pristine and untouched piece of the river Mondego - yes you can swim and nothing beats that in the summer.
It's a 30 min walk or 5 min drive to the closest village for local shops, bars, restaurants, a bank, and a post office.
It's a 10 min drive to a nice lake where you can swim and relax.
There are numerous historical villages in the area, that all organize their own medieval fair (usually summer or fall).
We're by the Serra da Estrela national park, which means breathtaking views, walks, Portugal's highest point, and skiing about an hour away.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week