We are Jules and Hayley - 2 Brits living in Belgium with my 15 year old son. I have lived here for 19 years and Hayley for the last 5. We want to live a more sustainable life here in the small town of Kinrooi in Belgian Limburg. We are currently busy with an eco renovation on our house using hemp, loam and straw bales.
We keep chickens and have a go at growing our own fruit & veg - when we have time off from the renovation. Every year we try to expand the area of our garden which is available for growing - this involves doing battle with well established brambles and bind-weed and doing it without the use of pesticides... although Hayley hasn't completely ruled out investing in a flamethrower.
Help with Eco project
We live in a house that was a self build in the 1950s - with all the quirks, odd building material choices and lack of right angles that go along with it. We needed to do something about the house and its complete lack of insulation and settled on insulating the roof and external walls with hempcrete and adding a wood frame extension with straw bale walls. So far we've insulated the roof, completed the upstairs rooms and have filled in the walls of the woodframe with straw. We need to finish the insulation to be able to plaster both the hemp and straw, protecting it from the weather. We're trying to reuse and recycle as much material as we can and chose an eco renovation because that was something that mattered to us. We've learned a lot about the techniques we're using and would be happy to share this knowledge with you if you have an interest, or to learn from you if this is something you've done before.
Depending on your skills and interests and where we are with the renovation there are many things that you may be able to help us with from mixing hempcrete, brickwork, gardening or the therapeutic exercise that is flinging bricks onto mountains of rubble that are going to be recycled into hardcore and the like. Maybe you even have ideas on a better way for us to recycle old joists into bookshelves?
In the coming years, we hope to expand our organic garden plot, to become more self-sufficient. We have a lot of garden which always needs attention and maintenance. If this is your passion, or just something you enjoy doing, we've got plenty to keep you busy.
Belgians are said to be born with a brick in their stomach - the desire to build their own homes - and self building and renovation is really common here although the neighbours are confused by our description of our eco renovation plans, especially when we get on to talking about hempcrete and straw bales! Where our neighbours usually have family available locally to help out with building projects, we don't. Some extra pairs of hands would be very welcome.
English, Dutch....and a little French (which we would like to improve)
As you can see from our profile details, we are living in the house that we are renovating, with some of the dust and chaos that involves.
We liked the look of your profile and wondered if you might consider visiting us at short notice.
We are doing a renovation and expanding our garden, which we would appreciate some help with, but would also enjoy the opportunity to support you in exploring our region of Belgium (Flanders).
We've just broken through into our new straw-balebuilding and the next step is to turn our front room into our new kitchen. Normally this is where our WorkAwayer guests stay, so we're looking for volunteers who don't mind camping in our garden (we can provide a tent).
If you're one of the WorkAwayers travelling with a campervan we can provide you with a good camping spot next to the house with access to the kitchen and bathroom/shower in the house. In case of bad weather, we'll make sure you have somewhere dry and comfortable to sleep.
We are very happy for you to share our family meals, although you are welcome to bow out of this if you prefer your own cooking.
We live in a small town in the North East of Belgium. Limburg is famous for its hospitality and cycling routes. There are local bus services, we have bikes that you could use or we'd be happy to drive you to the train stations if you want to go further afield - we're just a few kilometres from the Dutch border and 15 minutes from their nearest train station.
Although we seem to live in the middle of nowhere, we are actually within reach of many different European destinations. We're within 2 hours travel of Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels, the Ardennes, Antwerp, Luxemburg, Northern France and within an hours travel of Maastricht, Tongeren, Aachen and Eindhoven. If you have your sights on further travel, the high-speed rail network of all neighbouring countries can be accessed within an hour of here.
There are local facilities for watersports and, of course, many cafes with long menu lists of Belgian beers and a local chocolate maker.
We don't have many specific requirements other than asking people not to smoke in the house and to be considerate of our home and neighbours.
We've been WorkAway Hosts 15 times now and Hayley worked as a residential volunteer with a housing charity in London for a year, so we have experience from both sides of volunteering.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week