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We are an extended family (grandparents, parents and 3 children ages 11, 9, and 7)) who live off the grid in a rural, tranquil area of Lavalleja in Uruguay. There are about 400 hectares here with beef cattle, woods, ponds and creeks. We want to make this into a sustainable family farm, and we need your help! We have lots of projects, all with an organic, permaculture and eco-friendly, sustainable focus.
If you are a permaculture or syntropic (agroforesta) student and seek experience in designing and implementing ideas, this would be a great place to gain experience. If you have skills in construction, renovation, we have projects in mind like repairing an old stone house into a spring house for cooling and storing foods, building greenhouses and a chicken house. We want to design and create beautiful and functional areas around the house using mostly edible and medicinal plants. We have a garden that needs expansion and care so that we can begin to grow all or almost all of our own food.
We are still establishing systems and need help in setting up our place to function well and be productive. We need to gather materials and plant more trees, bushes and perennials, vegetables and fruits. The cows need to be rotated to fresh pasture, with portable fences moved or built. Compost materials need to be collected and utilized, paths need to be built, a barn and chicken house need to be designed and built, as well as a brick oven, trellises for grapes and kiwis, etc. etc. We are open to make use of any skill or expertise that you have, or just a desire to help build up a real working homestead.
We have a herd of beef cattle, several Jersey cows, chickens, geese, dogs and a cat (outdoor pets only). Food is cooked on a wood burning cook stove in cold weather, water for showers is heated by that stove. We make naturally leavened bread, we culture and ferment vegetables and dairy, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and slowly simmer bone broths. Right now much of our food is purchased in town, but we are working hard to change that, and can do it faster and better with your willing help.
The setting here is among hills in a remote area, about a 40 minute drive from Minas. It feels very secluded and private and peaceful here. We can't see any neighbors at all. There are no electrical lines, and no easy internet (up on a hill with modem, it´s possible under certain conditions). We now have solar panels which provides enough electricity for a few things (when there has been plenty of sun).
We are not near the beach; the South Atlantic Ocean is about a 2 1/2 hour drive. Montevideo is about 3 hours away.
Saturdays are always off work at our house. We mostly need outdoor farm help, 3 hours in the morning, then another couple of hours in the afternoon. Help chopping vegetables and washing dishes after meals is appreciated.
Perhaps there are things you could learn from us, and we could learn from you. We would really enjoy having you come and share, dream and build with us. Please come and help us to make it happen!
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Would you like to learn how to bake bread using only wild yeasts from the air or make cheese, yogurt, (depending on the lactation of the cows) bone broth, sauerkraut, soap or candles? Learn to use traditional methods of food preparation to optimize the nutrients, if that interests you. We have lots of books on permaculture, homesteading, nutrition, cooking that you may read. We are North Americans living in South America. We really love to talk about your culture, experiences and learn from you. Chat with us, play games, play with the children, become part of our family while you are here. Teach us about the food, dances, culture from your country.
Building fences, moving fences, composting, gardening, tree pruning, brush clearing, constructing or renovating farm buildings, stone walls, fences, sidewalks. Gathering composting materials, rocks, planting and maintaining trees, bushes, perennials. Food preparation, washing dishes. We have various projects going, so what help we need will vary with the circumstances and season. We prefer those who have interests and skills in farming and construction.
3 hours of outside work in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon is the schedule.
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The campsite is up on a hill with a nice expansive view, a 5-10 minute walk up and down hills, with creek crossing from the house. The sleeping accommodations are quite primitive. Right now we have a 2-room tent and a large tipi with cots, blankets. You do not have to prepare your meals in the campsite- that is done at the house.
There is a private swimming hole in the creek. We have one bathroom with shower and composting toilet, to share among us, and another composting toilet outside. When it is warm outside, I use the gas stove more and the wood stove less, which means hot showers are available about once a week. However, room temperature showers are available anytime, and the swimming hole in the creek is refreshing on a hot afternoon. In the cold weather, hot showers are available in afternoons and evenings (because of the frequent use of the wood cookstove).
All meals are provided, but if you want coffee, yerba mate, wine or desserts, you need to bring those with you. We eat healthily, generally higher fat and lower carbs, no sugar or processed foods. There are many variables as to the availability of garden-fresh vegetables and milk, so the seasons dictate whether we eat from the garden and/or make cheese, or eat more plainly.
I answer every single inquiry, but we have internet access usually only on Monday and Thursday mornings when one of us goes to town, so be aware that I can't always reply right away. You might have to wait as much as 3 days for a reply- but be assured, I will reply! If you want to come right away, I will provide a phone number in my reply so we can coordinate more quickly than emails. Mondays and Thursdays at 12:30 at the Minas bus station are the best times for us to pick up our volunteers.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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