(We respond to all emails but sometimes it takes longer than we would like as our internet access is limited.)
Note: We are in great need of volunteers at the moment as we have our smallholding to run, and a new house to build!
Holy Fnord! Well! Ahoy! We are an off-grid smallholding run by two magical minded self-sustainability freaks who want to learn and love the land in as compassionate and cosmic a manner as possible! In 2016 we bought 1.2 hectares of land (mix of cork, olive, fruit trees) and a beautiful house made from local stone and clay. Our space is located not so far from a village called Luzianes Gare in Alentejo, in the alchemical south-west regions of Portugal.
We have retired from consensual reality and want to create a slower, more conscious world, with connections to all elements in our daily lives. How this translates into the physical plane is: we grow food, we eat the food, sometimes we make the food into big pots of food and sell the food at market, we have wild nights of conversation and music, we have rituals, we have non-rituals, we celebrate the sacred, we celebrate the profane, we like to make and encourage art, and are trying to transition into complete self-sustainability, as long as we can still buy our rice and coffee from the outside world...! Lots to learn, lots to do.
We often have friends and family drifting through our space, but the permanent guardians are Rory and Margot, a Scot and a South African who met in South Korea and decided to embark on some wyrd and wicked wanderings together. This smallholding could be seen as a radical experiment in creating an alternative to the work/money/career reality, but to us it seems like the normal, sane thing to do.
We work hard, we play harder, and we sometimes remember to take time away from the land and explore the neighboring glens or nearby coast.
2017 was focused very much on developing our vegetable garden, so we now have beautiful soil producing most of the vegetables that we need.
2018 was deemed The Year of the Animals, so we now have a tribe that includes animal people, not just human people. We have pigs, goats, chickens, geese, pigeons, dogs, cats, and a young donkey called Merlin. We get eggs, milk, manure, and meat from our animals, but they are mostly with us to enrich our space and connect us to the land.
2019 is going to be a continuation of the last few years, maintaining the normal routine of garden and animal care, but the new focus is going to be on construction. We have bought the adjoining piece of land (3000 sqm) which has a lovely wee ruin on it. We plan to rebuild this ruin into a beautiful cottage which can be used as accommodation for our families, as well as renting out as an eco tourism project.
1. We prefer volunteers who can join us for longer periods of time, so give priority to those volunteers who can commit to a minimum of two weeks.
2. We get a lot a lot a lot a lot of requests! We would dearly love to say YES to everyone, but as we are blissed out bodhisattvas embracing the comforting poverty of the peasant we do not have the monetary funds to do this. This was the reason we had to sadly say no to so many volunteers in 2017, as we could only comfortably support a small group of humans at any one time. We fully support the normal exchange of delicious homegrown food for the help of volunteers, but are unable to provide more than that. This means eating seasonal, local food, mainly plant-based feasts, although we are omnivores who occasionally enjoy eating our own animals or locally hunted/reared meat.
3. Off-grid living can be hard, and it is definitely delightfully rustic! Much of the work we do is physically demanding, and the weather in Portugal can be very difficult (sun sun sun sun). We do expect all of our volunteers to be able to do physical work outdoors, so if manual labour is not for you then maybe our space is not your ideal choice.
4. We have a very open approach to volunteers who stay with us. We share our space, we cook and eat together, and we bring you into our lives which means working, playing, partying, and exploring together. We are not the sort of hosts who erect barriers between us and our volunteers and keep everything separate. By joining our space you will be coming as friends, albeit with the understanding of a work exchange, which is something we practice with all of our friends in the area anyway. We only want volunteers who are genuinely interested in this type of life and the connectedness of rural living, so we are NOT somewhere you can use for free accommodation in the area, doing a few hours work then going off and doing your own thing.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Our place is entirely off-grid so you are going to learn a whole host of useful skills. We organise all our own water, electricity, fuel, etc., so we can definitely show you the ropes if you are new to this. With a huge amount of books on permaculture, land management, animal care, vegetable growing, etc, you can do all your studies at night as well!
If you want to learn something specific, i.e. a focus on animals, vegetables, foraging, or tool use, then let us know and we can craft projects to this. We are not mind readers so it is on you to communicate your desires and we will do our best to accommodate!
We are both certified English language teachers, and our interests range from literature to poetry, music to magic, tarot to scuba diving, foraging to fishing, hiking to wild swimming, we have both travelled extensively around the world, and been volunteers on small farms ourselves. Sure there is a lot in there that you can learn from us!
We live deep in the countryside of Portugal in a very traditional wider community, and being good friends with the locals you can get a great insight into how self-sufficiency looks here. Whilst we live in a very quiet valley with no immediate neighbours, we have friends practising all sorts of traditional and more modern (permaculture type) agriculture and other eco-projects in the immediate area.
We would like help in the many daily activities involved in developing and running a smallholding.
Typical workday will start at 8am with animals being tended to. There will then be several hours of working on whatever project if prioritised until midday. After a light lunch there will be several more hours of work before bringing the workday to a close around 5pm. A feast will be prepared by us or a volunteer, or all together, and the evening can be spent in whichever way you please! Volunteers are not expected to do anything on Saturday and Sunday, so you are free to do as you please.
We have vegetables that need cared for, land that needs tended, help in various small building projects (often with cob or other natural materials), fruit harvested and preserved, art collaborations, dog walking, chicken chasing, egg finding, goat milking, firewood processing, stone finding, art making, foraging in the forest, and coming up with tasty food to share together in the evenings! Obviously we are very interested in volunteers with specific skills (engineers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) but if you are a good all-rounder, or even a complete beginner at this sort of thing but have a willingness to learn and are able to carry out physical work in the oppressive sunshine of Portugal, then you will have a great time here!
We eat predominantly from our own land, so seeds, plants, weeding, watering, and feeding is a daily activity.
Animals need fed, watered, cared for and walked. The goats and donkey can be taken to forage in the many beautiful valleys around.
We enjoy the artwork that volunteers leave in our space, usually on the walls of the house, so if you have any artistic ideas we are happy for you to explore them here!
We sometimes have yoga sessions in the evening, so if you have experience in leading classes you can guide us into bodily bliss!
If you have any projects you have always wanted to explore but have never had the opportunity to manifest then its quite possible we can make it happen together. Come with clear ideas and plans, designs or manuals if possible, and if it fits in with our schedule and is something we are also interested in then we can do it. For example, our volunteer friend Alice had always wanted to start a mushroom farm, which is something we also wanted to do, so we researched together, bought and collected all the materials needed, and started one at our place.
ALSO: once a month, if all is flowing well at home, we go to market where we have a regular stall selling food, art, crafts, and preserves. Usually we take a volunteer down to help us. It is always groovy with loads of fantastic freaks and magical madpeople! It is also our main source of income which we use to keep our place going, so is very important for us.
What To Bring:
Hard-wearing clothes to work outside in.
Hat and long shirts for the sun.
Eco/Biodegradable products for the shower.
Good strong shoes.
English, French, Afrikaans, Portuguese.
We have various possibilities available to you, which means that you can experience a different sleep/dream experience every night if you do so wish. First off we have a caravan in the workshop/storage space. It's under a roof, so plenty of shade from the oppressive Portuguese sun, and can comfortably sleep several people if necessary.
Next we have a very basic treehouse leftover from previous occupants of the house. We can make a dream palace bed there if you enjoy sleeping two meters above the ground. The treehouse is somewhat close to the chicken palace, but our rooster is somewhat lazy and sings at a very reasonable 7am... more or less. The plus side of this deluxe tree accommodation is that it is also situated right next to the melon patch, so in summer you can pick fresh melon on your way to the kitchen in the morning.
If you enjoy your dreams in tents we have lots of space where you can pitch up, and plenty of trees if you prefer to string up a hammock. Often in summer we dump our mattresses outside and sleep beneath the canopy of stars. With no light pollution the night sky is rather remarkable.
We also have a new bedroom in the house which is specifically for guest or volunteers.
Everything is possible. Maybe you want to build a treehouse, or a druidic dream tower, or a hobbit cave. The choice is yours. We have lots of space so you shall be comfortable.
How will food work? Well, unlike Gandhi I do believe you need more than raisins, goat milk, and lemons to survive, although we do eat all of these in abundance! We are trying to move towards being as self sustainable as possible. We eat mainly from our garden but supplement with things bought from outside, swapped with friends and neighbors, or foraged from the wild. Almost all of our meals are plant based. We rarely eat meat, although once every month or so we do enjoy a big meat feast, and the dogs are grateful for the bones. Eggs we get from our chickens, and our goats keep us supplied with milk for our cheese and yoghurt, but this is only seasonal!
In the morning we generally have coffee, fruit, bread, oats, yogurt etc. Lunch is usually a 'whatever is there' affair, and dinner is generally a sumptuous feast of mammoth proportions. Breakfast and lunch are never long, and generally we help ourselves whenever we are hungry. This means we can be more efficient and get more work done! The only meal we sit down and eat all together around one table is dinner! Yum!
So, we shall provide basic breakfast, simple lunch, and sumptuous dinner each day. You will usually (not always!) prepare your own breakfast and lunch from what is in the kitchen, garden, greenhouse, or wild, and we will all prepare the dinner together at the end of the day.
If you have any dietary requirements that you imagine will be difficult to cater for deep in rural Portugal then please bring your own supply of alternatives (gluten free whatever, etc).
Phone service limited. Internet severely limited. Absolute paradise. If you are a smartphone zombie who spends hours on your device you will definitely incur the wrath of the countryside gods so its a good idea to limit your use and enjoy being in the present to the best of your ability.
If you really need internet then the junta in the village has free wifi and is only a 40 minute walk away!
Lots of beautiful things to explore in the area. Relatively close to the south west coast of Portugal, which has a huge array of incredible beaches and cliffs (50minute drive by car). Huge dam (Santa Clara Barragem) is a 15 minute drive away, great for picnics and swimming. The 230km Rota Vicentina hiking trail passes through the area. Lots of markets, local, gypsy, and freaky foreigner types. We have secret swimming spots in nearby valleys, abandoned villages to hike to, and weekly events in our local village.
We have vehicles and a few bikes which can sometimes be used by volunteers. . Volunteers often walk into the village (30-40minutes through beautiful valleys) where there are several cafe/bars, and a wee grocers.
As we are so deep in the countryside it is obviously easiest if you have your own transport if you wish to do some serious exploring.
Nearby is the community of Tamera which is a super experiment in alternative ways of living and they hold regular open days and workshops.
If you are inclined towards bhakti yoga Mooji and his community is only a 20minute drive away.
There are frequent markets in the area, both agricultural and artisan, as well as psychedelic parties, music festivals, and workshops.
Our village and neighbouring ones also have traditional parties, feasts, and festivals throughout the year.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week