Bush Retreat and Holistic Sanctuary – Looking for Help-full Volunteers in Vila Ruiva, Portugal

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  • Last activity: 23 Mar 2024



 Min stay requested: at least 1 month



  • Description


    Hi, we’re Millo, Lucy and Leo (our almost 2 year old boy). Our vision is to regenerate this once abandoned rural farm into a holistic sanctuary / nature conservation area. We’re inviting protectors, guardians and ecosystem restoration campers wanting to help build our Off-grid Homestead / Permaculture Farm.

    The land is located in the heart region of Portugal. The Serra da Estrela area. Our dream is for this land to become an Ecosystem Restoration Camp & Regenerative Agriculture Collective with creative space as a hub.

    Easy going, kind and straightforward people are invited to volunteer and participate. Empathy and kindness are essential.

    A little about us:

    Millo - I’ve been here since 2010. I worked in web site building and came straight out of the city. I came here very ambitious and energetic with my dreams and aspirations. Unfortunately during this time I’ve also learned the hardships of life in Portugal, that brought me back to Zone 0. Zone 0 is the essence in the seed, that gives life. I may have finally come full circle now, I hope, so this is just the beginning ...

    Lucy - I grew up in London but around 2018 I became inspired to make real changes in my life. I started learning about permaculture and syntropic farming and my passion just grew from there. I came to Portugal in 2019 and when I found this project I just couldn’t leave. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made! I’m still learning and growing, as is the project, but I’m excited and inspired by all that surrounds me and what is to come!

    Leo – Hey guys! I was only born in October 2021 so I’ve not really got a lot to say, other than I love my farm. I love my family, and I love my animal friends here, who teach me that life should be cool and easy. I love to watch my chicken friends scratch around and I love their eggs! I also love to eat organic veg out of the garden that UP (Uncle Paul) grows for us. I love the micro-nutrients, cos you know, it’s the small things that count!

    Paul Gardener – Don’t mind me. I know nothing about Permaculture. I just came here to get stuff done. I’m a doer, not a dreamer. I’m growing all the food here. I’ve made several cubic metres of innoculated bio-char and regenerated a shed-ton of soil. I consult Millo on how to improve his mulch mounds. I’m also a genius and provide logical reasoning along with a lot of original out-of-the-box concepts on key projects. I am the go-to guy for solutions. Many are intimidated by me, but I’m very approachable and a hopeless romantic at heart.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Babysitting and creative play
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability 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 have a strong connection with a growing community of permaculture projects around here and there are also all kinds of meetings that take place regularly in the area (like women’s circles, kids groups for example) and social events in summer, so if you’re interested in meeting more people doing the same thing we do that could lead onto another WorkAway exchange for you then we could be a bridge to that.

  • Help




    We are currently looking for a couple who would like to stay here to help us care for our summer market garden from now until September. We would prefer a couple (whatever that means to you) so that one person could care for the garden - 3-5 hours a day and one person could be with our one year and a half aged son when needed (such as when we need to both work online to earn income). So one person would need to have a desire and some experience with looking after children, while the other person would need to be motivated and feel comfortable with the following tasks:

    - using a petrol powered water pump to ensure that water tanks for irrigation are maintained at full.
    - mindfully watering the garden in a methodical way, taking notes and noting observations.
    - mulching, weeding
    - harvesting (zucchinis/courgettes, carrots, pumpkins, sweet corn, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes) and (if you fancy) taking photos to post onto our local food web, for local purchasers.
    - tying tomatoes, guiding cucumber and courgette plants out of the paths and maintaining / clearing the access paths.

    It's not generally hard work and is best carried out a couple hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening. We don't recommend working out in the midday son, but if you're English then we'll understand.

    You will need your own accommodation, preferably a camper or a caravan, or if you are happy with a tent then there are plenty of shady spots for camping around here.

    We will provide you with a nice lunch, and for breakfasts and dinner we can provide you with eggs from our chickens (or local network if they're not laying) and any fresh vegetables that are available for harvest but we cannot provide use of our kitchen since we have a small house that we have a need to maintain as our family space.

    If you are a couple, and this sounds interesting for you then please read on and if you're happy with everything that we're communicating here then please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.


    We're looking for easy going people with a good sense of awareness regarding personal boundaries and full circle living. There is no fixed schedule here, and once we've agreed on your assigned tasks/projects then you can work to a schedule that suits you. We ask for 4-5 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation or 2-3 hours a day in exchange for accommodation/camping only and if they would like to join in meals then we would ask for a weekly contribution towards food expenses.

    We believe in fair exchange, so when it comes to communication we expect a fair and equal exchange based on honest sharing and empathy. If you like to talk or preach a lot then this might not be the place to find an audience.

    Other projects that we may need help with:

    Outdoor Kitchen / Café
    We are currently building a structure that will become the communal kitchen and hangout area for residents and volunteers. This space will also function as a café and area to host events in the future!
    This timber frame structure may incorporate some cob and/or straw bale work.

    Outdoor toilet and shower
    Another project we have on the go is the dual vault natural build toilet and outdoor shower. It has an adobe style base. We now have a reciprocal roof structure built and we need to get walls and windows in …

    Garden helper
    Paul has done an amazing job transforming the garden into a an on-contour style bed system, using lots of organic matter, manure and our home-made bio-char. No mean feat! But there is still lots of work to be done and there are many garden areas to prepare. Regenerating the land and building soil is a top priority and there are always jobs to help with on the land!

    Kitchen Maestro
    Do you love to cook? It’s always a great benefit for us to have someone that can help take care of preparing healthy lunch and dinner meals for us and the crew here. We generally cook vegetarian and vegan.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Fluent
    Italian: Intermediate
    Portuguese: Intermediate

  • Accommodation


    If you have your own van then that’s ideal as we have plenty of spaces around the farm where you could park up and stay.

    If you have a tent or a hammock then there are also plenty of private shady spots around the land where you can set up your camp space.


    Usually during the summer months we also like to shower by the water tank down by the garden.


    Long drop dual vault composting loo, a poo with a view.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We have a couple of working bikes that you can use to go out and explore the area. There are also plenty of cafes in the surrounding villages where you could hang out, have a coffee, play cards and learn the Portuguese ways with the locals.

    If you prefer peaceful and quiet activities then there are plenty of places around here to meditate, read a book or just relax. If you are interested in yoga then you can find a quiet space where you can practice yoga.

    In summer we often have regular community events so you will be welcome to join in on those events when they happen. Millo also likes to do some reggae nights, either at a venue, or on the farm, just to keep himself sane.

    A note on some things you could consider bringing with you:

    - torch
    - sleeping bag
    - wet weather gear / waterproof jacket
    - work boots
    - work clothes that you don't mind getting muddy or stained
    - warm clothes for evenings and for sleeping in when it gets cold
    - hat for sunny weather
    - towel - a small quick drying one is good

    Please do not bring any toiletries/soaps that contain harmful chemicals or are not biodegradable.

    We have work gloves you can borrow if needed, and wellies can be bought cheaply or we may have some your size.

    We can appreciate that people may want to enjoy a drink from time to time but this is not the place for heavy drinkers.

  • 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

    Only if you have your own place to work from (van, caravan etc) and internet dongle. Otherwise, in the village which is 20 minute walk away there is an Inatel Hotel (4 star) that has quite spaces like a TV room, billiard room and library where they will usually allow people to sit down, have a coffee and get online ... I've used it as my office for a time and they were quite nice about it.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    If you have your own campervan or motorhome then this would be ideal as accommodation here (especially in winter) is limited.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 442354995433

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