Creating a permaculture forest garden and/or eco-friendly renovation on a smallholding in Picardy, France



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  • Description


    The property is a former cattle farm in the valley of the river Oise, situated in the French countryside of the Thiérache (Hauts-de-France).

    Since 2015 it is being transformed into a permaculture smallholding with a food forest, currently by Luc (50), originally from Flanders/Belgium. And as the tradition wants it, the (former) meadow is being surrounded by a Thiérache-style hedge.

    The idea is to be – as much as possible – self-sufficient. "Reduce, re-use, recycle". This also means using electricity, gas, heating and water wisely, “back to basics" in fact. There is a dry (and a wet) toilet.

    The house is being restored to show more of its original features and the barn could do with some small restauration. That implies using as much as possible traditional materials and techniques, and if they are not available, turning to modern ecological alternatives.

    Help is always welcome with the food forest and/or with the transformation/renovation, depending on the season and the weather.

    Specific things that could be going on – Luc would be very happy to teach them to you – are mowing with the scyth and laying hedges (different styles, with a preference for cross hedges). And every now and then there is also wood that needs doing.

    Don't hesitate to mention what you would like to do when you think of coming over, so we can make sure we match!

    Ideally you are pro-active, able to work together, and at the same time able to get things done on your own.

    The night life is limited to watching the stars (there is little light pollution) and observing bats and other creatures of the night. Or sitting outside with a drink and remenescing the day and comtemplating life.

    Social life is quite limited as well, as the population in the village is aging and most people have their daily tasks like gardening and householding.

    Luc loves the French culture and savoir-vivre and would like to share that with you. He would like to learn more about you, where you come from, what thrives you and also find out how different (or not) the daily life is where you come from.

    Staying here means participating in the daily life, working and living together, and sharing all daily tasks that come with it, like bringing wood into the house, doing groceries (once a week), cleaning and cooking (i.e. they don't count as “work”).

    Luc is usually the chef in the kitchen (no Michelin rating yet, and probably not soon to get one) but he's gets by. He is also always interested in learning new dishes, especially traditional dishes from where you come from.

    That means three simple but complete meals a day. If you would like it to be vegetarian, you should definitvely give the chef a hand, because he has no idea of how to do it, except skipping the meat and giving more vegetables. Vegan is also possbile if you BYO.

    There are cats and semi-free range chickens.

    Cellphone network coverage is limited inside the house. There is cable with wifi available.

    The property is at 11 km from the train station and Luc is happy to pick you up there!

    The car is a two-seater so only one workawayer can be accomodated at a time, unless you have our own transportation; there is a guest room with a twin bed.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Farmstay help
    General Maintenance

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    You are invited to participate in the French and Belgian culture.

    I would love to learn about you, your culture, the daily life and taste the traditional food from where you come from. It would be great if you could teach me how to prepare some of the traditional food from where you come from.

    I can teach you:
    - about permaculture
    - how to mow with a scyth
    - different styles of hedge laying
    - building and restoring using older techniques
    - how to make traditional French and Belgian food
    - Dutch

  • Help


    I am looking for help with biological/organic kitchen gardening and the transformation of the pasture (according to permaculture principles) into a food forest. Help is also welcome with mowing the grass and doing hay and planting and laying hedges.

    I am also looking for help with building and restoring the house and barn, using traditional techniques and materials or modern ecological alternatives.

    Don't hesitate to mention what you would like to do when you thing of coming over, so we can make sure we match.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    French: Fluent
    Dutch: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    - a spare room in the house with a shared bathroom
    - a parking space for your car/camper/caravan/van
    - your own tent
    - the hayloft ;-)

    There are four cats so I can't accomodate for animals, except the horse or donkey you are travelling with.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    At less than 5 minutes walking, there is the Axe vert, an old small track railway that is today transformed into a walking- and cyclingpath from Guise to Hirson, and that is a part of EuroVelo 3 (Trondheim - Santiago de Compostela). Next to it is the river Oise, the perfect place to enjoy the peace and calm of the water and ideal for canoe or kayak.

    There are quite a lot of nice forests and lakes nearby, among others the Parc naturel de l’Avesnois, the pond Etangs des Moines in Fourmies, the communal forest of Hirson with its Domaine de Blangy and its cascade.

    There is the Piscine de l’Ile verte in Hirson with swimming pool, sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, fitness and bowling.
    Also worth a visit is the Familistère in Guise (the Utopia of Godin, the man from the stoves) and the abbey of Saint-Michel.

    Parfondeval, wich is one of the most beautifull villages of France, is at half an hour drive.

    The medieval city of Laon, situated on a rock of a honderd meters high, with a lot of things to see and its cathedral, is at an hours drive.

    For those who love brocantes (flee markets): from April untill Octobre, there is always one to be found nearby.

    Please note that public transportation is very limited, so you would have to have your own transportation, call for a taxi or get Luc to take you on a touristic trip.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    There is optic cable (fibre) internet in the house.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    There is a parking spot with some privacy and electricity available.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    About 5 hours a day, 5 days a week (flexible)

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Host ref number: 321944685694