Help with natural building on an off-grid eco-project in the mountains of central Portugal



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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description



    *️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️At the moment we are mostly concentrating on construction work, using some natural building techniques, like cobbing (using clay, sand, straw and water), lime plastering, rammed earth, sourcing materials from the land, from nearby or recycling used materials. We are using cement when necessary. This can be physically demanding work, but rewarding for people who are interested in developing skills and experience in this area. Current volunteer accommodation is in tents, which can be provided*️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️

    Early days on an ecological project to create a working model of accessible sustainability in the mountains of central Portugal. The evolving concept is to experiment with, develop and share techniques of natural building, regenerative agriculture and healthy living. This may include aspects of sustainable/alternative energy production, food production, passive solar energy, food forest development, forest management, vermiculture, water management, humane animal partnership and community integration.

    Closest village is a twenty minute walk. Closest town is a twenty minute drive. Site is along a hiking trail that is used fairly regularly by local and international tourists and even a local goat herd. Wild boar, deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, various birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and an array of insects populate the surrounding forests and streams. The property is half encircled by a mountain stream that runs all year round. The main stone building is hundreds of years old and would've originally been used to house goats and straw, as well as, possibly, seasonal workers. I was told that there was some kind of nudist colony using the land in the 80's, but eventually angered locals by breaking into (and thereby damaging) the beehives that were kept nearby. The trees that were growing inside the building have been removed, the floor dug down and a proper, fairly traditional, stone floor put in. It now has a new roof and the walls have been rendered with a clay mixture, outside. A rocket mass heater has been installed for heat and most cooking. Butane is also used for cooking for the moment with a plan to phase it out, eventually. The inside of the house has been completely cobbed and limed. The wooden parts of the building (beams, floors, stairs, etc.) have been treated with borax and then either linseed oil or limewash. Besides the main building (which is actually a combination of two), a tool shed has been built, as well as a footbridge over the stream, a large covered area that serves as a wood storage/splitting area and a cabin to house chickens, ducks and possibly rabbits, has been started, all using wood from the land and local area. An extension of the house is in the process of being built, which will ultimately contain: An indoor dry compost toilet (currently using a little outdoor hut), an indoor shower (currently using outdoor bucket shower or bathing in the stream), a bidet, laundry facilities and more. A basic garden has been put together with the slash cut from around the house and the dirt that was dug out from floor and from a trough around the house. Some fruit trees have been planted. An electric pump for irrigation and household water has been set up and is working well, but a more permanent water tank will eventually be built, on higher ground to increase household water pressure. We now have a passive solar hot water heater for the many sunny days.

    Ultimately, more land needs to be cleared, more gardens set up, more trees planted, and more irrigation systems set up. There is a photovoltaic system for solar energy and WiFi available in the house on a scheduled basis, as the signal is beamed into the valley from our own solar powered mountainside WiFi station on a timer. We're on a fixed data plan and consumption is limited, so no streaming Netflix or YouTube, sorry. Besides the humans, there are two dogs and two cats living in the house.

    We are a couple, Fiona and 'J'm.

    'J'm is a semi-retired musician from Canada who lived in the UK for several years. He plays gigs, now and then, locally, mostly with British ex-pats. Health is his primary motivation for living in this way, so he's pretty clean living (teetotal, straight edge). His personal philosophies are secular, though he is accepting of others' spirituality. Politically, he is interested in Anarcho-syndicalism, Agrarianism, Democracy (in its true sense). 'J'm is a big fan of film and some series and enjoys listening to podcasts and audio books while doing some menial tasks .

    Fiona is a full-time academic lecturer and researcher who grew up and studied in Greece and the UK, as well as further studies in Austria, Italy and New Zealand. Fiona is passionate about cooking, folk dancing, cultural exchange, tourism, hiking, animals and various arts and crafts.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Farmstay help
    Help with Eco Projects
    Help around the house
    Animal Care
    Art Projects
    Help with Computers/ Internet

  • 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

    We are happy to share things we have learned about: language, arts, crafts, cooking, music, building, gardening, animals, tourism, etc.

  • Help


    There are two roles that need filling:

    1) Volunteer to help with building work, grounds maintenance, animal care and sharing household chores. Five hours per day, five days per week, in exchange for three meals per day and camping accommodation.

    2) Long term partner(s) to join us in this project, possibly starting as a volunteer and eventually building their own accommodation on the property.

    Looking for: a mature and health conscious person or couple who wants to live in a rural environment to help build, maintain and operate an eco-project on a long-term to permanent basis. Priority will be given to those who embrace physical activity and routine, communicate well, are emotionally stable, are reliable (can be left in charge), prefer to wake and sleep early (with the sun), are empathetic, adaptable to a variety of weather conditions, and tidy.

    Daily chores we share include cooking, cleaning, care and feeding of animals (may involve handling meat), splitting and carrying firewood, etc. Infrastructure building work is ongoing as is land clearing and maintenance. One should be keen to speak the language of the country in which one lives.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    Greek: Fluent
    English: Fluent
    German: Intermediate
    Portuguese: Intermediate
    Spanish: Beginner
    French: Beginner

    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


    For the moment, accommodation will be in tents. More accommodation building is planned. Food is most often vegetarian, simple and healthy.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There are some nice swimming spots in the area. Plenty of scenery in the mountains. Many places to walk/hike. Occasional parties and live music in the area.

    [[LGBTQIA friendly]]

  • 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

    We pay by the GB, so low-bandwidth work is fine. Larger files could also be sent/received in the nearest village, which has free Wi-Fi supplied by the municipality ;-)

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Available spots are just on the other side of the river from my property, so it would be without electricity ;-)

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    It's all about the level of control that the owner is able to have over their animal ;-)

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    max 25 hours a week

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Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (4.5)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 428185882754