Help with the revitalization of a small farm inside a natural park in Marvão, Portugal

  • Portugal
  • Favourited 35 times
  • Last activity: 30/01/2023




  • Description


    Roll up your sleeves and join me in some delightful, dirty work here on my small farm in the interior of Portugal. My farm (just under 1 hectare) is set within a beautiful natural park in the interior of Portugal near the Spanish border. The farm has been left for some time but has a small house where I live, lots of open flat land, a handful of olive and fruit trees, neglected shelters previously used to house animals, an old bread oven/smoke house, a detached garage, and a small ruin. It's a wonderful, peaceful property set within a small, mostly abandoned hamlet halfway between the small city of Portalegre and the hilltop villages of Marvão and Castelo de Vide. It's the perfect place to connect deeply with nature, embrace the slow, natural rhythms of life in the countryside, practice community in action, and gain some skills and stories to share.

    I am early in the process of recovering the farm and working mostly on my own. I'm interested in people coming for short term work exchange, anywhere from 1 day to a week, to work alongside me with the various tasks that are part of life here. I'll detail this more in the following section.

    I am a first-generation Portuguese immigrant and former professor of the performing arts from Portland, Oregon, USA. Now I spend my time doing massage therapy from my home studio, teaching a bit of yoga, and living slowly, deliberately and in a growing connection with this place. I spent the last few years living on an off-grid, organic farm where I practiced ancestral living and honed my skills as a gardener and someone capable of greater self-reliance and reduced consumption. The experience and influence remain and I still work hard but with a bit more comfort and playfulness in my life.

    I am accompanied by a very old, fluffy, ball of unconditional love and loyalty that is my dog Subi. She is very intuitive and gets along well with other animals should you also have a well-behaved, well-socialized beastie friend.

    My home is my sanctuary and I enjoy the peace and quiet that I came here for which is also necessary to do the work that I do on-site. We'll be a good fit if you are really keen to spend time in nature, with nature, for nature, as nature meaning not needing a lot of stimulation, noise, and distraction. That doesn't however exclude playfulness, humor, and spontaneous kitchen dance parties.

    Please note that this is a queer-friendly space affiliated with "The Quinta Project" nearby. Freaks, faeries, and feminists...oh my.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    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

    In addition to learning new skills through the hands-on work we will do and the informal exchanges that take place throughout your stay I'm happy to take volunteers along to local events when the timing aligns or to take a day to visit another area, go for a hike, or take in a show or movie at the local cultural center.

    There is an increasingly diverse community here and usually at least one or more opportunities per week to participate in some manner whether it's gathering for a pizza party, a harvest celebration, a performance, a workshop, a tea ceremony, or a village celebration, there is a surprising amount of activity for such a small area.

    More details or options can be discussed when making arrangements on an individual basis.

  • Help


    There is an indescribable joy and contentment that comes with working the land together, seeing the immediate impact, and knowing that we are with every step becoming better stewards of this earth. We are communal creatures and derive great satisfaction from participating in community and seeing our work live on in the lives of others. Experiential learning is key here and we will ideally swap skills and stories while co-creating.

    There are many ways to contribute here this year. Ideally I would like to work approximately 4 hours per day, mostly together. This would likely look like around 2 hours of more physical, demanding work (clearing land, building, pruning, preparing the vegetable patch, putting in fencing, etc) with a couple more hours of lighter work (making preserves, art projects, cleaning, preparing food, things around the house, etc).

    Work is seasonal and based on what is needed and more appropriate at any given time. Here are some of the things we might work on depending on your background, skills, abilities, and interests between September 2022 and May 2023:
    -clearing the land (removing bracken, strimming, pruning, burning debris, clearing away fire hazards, etc)
    -harvesting and processing what is in season
    -fencing in a soon-to-be vegetable garden
    -putting in raised beds
    -preparing the soil
    -planting trees, flowers, and herbs
    -installing a watering system for the veg garden
    -recovering the chicken coop to prepare for chickens in the spring
    -rebuilding stone walls
    -creating a simple outdoor kitchen under the covered patio
    -cleaning and restoring an old bench (cement)

    There is also the ruin to recover as well as the garage and the bread oven. If you have special skills in that area and would like to visit for a specific project and amount of time, please reach out and we can discuss details and appropriate pay for such skilled labor.

    Whimsy is also welcome here. Bring your artistic skills to help beautify the house, land, space. (can be ephemeral or lasting) While there are always the very practical things that need to be done (nature doesn't wait) there is also ample time to explore, create, and share.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Intermediate
    Portuguese: Intermediate

    This host offers a language exchange
    I'm always happy to improve my Portuguese and Spanish and would also love to learn more Italian.

  • Accommodation


    Accommodations are limited here. Sleeping on the land is wonderful, but understandably not for everyone.

    I have lots of open space for a tent and can provide a small, 2 person tent with air mattress. (really better for 1 person with the air mattress)

    I have had people pass here with vans converted into campers with no problem. There are flat areas on the land with a parcel that can be accessed from the driveway/parking. That way you can be a bit away from the house and have space and privacy.

    The bathroom is at the front of the house with a door that separates it from the rest of the house and can be accessed at any time. This entrance also features a lovely nook with picture windows looking out towards the garden and a table/desk to work at or to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. There is a covered patio just outside the house.

    The house where I live is small, the size of an average studio apartment. It has an open kitchen/dining with wood burner and 2 small bedrooms. One is my bedroom and the other is a sitting room with a couple of comfy chairs and books. This room could potentially be used with an air mattress for a short term stay for those who don't want to camp and don't have a van/camper.

    At this time the best option would be to host 1-2 (a couple) work away volunteers at a time.

    Wifi is through my mobile phone and has worked great so far but not sure how it will behave during stormier weather. Water and sewer are connected to the municipality and I have electricity. I'd like to eventually install a solar water heater and build an outdoor bathroom with dry toilet but that will take time.

    I will provide food to make meals during your stay. We can eat collectively and divide food prep and clean up duties on a rotating basis. I am a vegetarian-leaning omnivore and am happy to accommodate vegetarians. I focus on eating locally and seasonally and am happy to take you to a local market to do a tour and buy fresh produce for your time here when schedules permit. If foods have to get on an airplane to get here or are highly processed, you probably won't find it in my fridge/pantry. Vegan meals happen often by accident but if you require a meat and dairy free environment this won't be a good fit as those things are prepared in my kitchen.

    Depending on the timing and duration of your stay and my work demands (teaching, massage, etc) we could potentially take some time to share food related tasks like baking bread, making preserves, fermenting, pickling, hand made pasta, farm cheese, from scratch pizzas, etc.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    This area is naturally, historically, and culturally rich and offers a lot to explore during a short period. There are many walking paths in the area and September through May are wonderful for enjoying a nice, long stroll. The farm is located about a 15 minute drive to most places of interest. If you wish to do a lot of site-seeing you'll need your own transportation. However I am happy to arrange pick-up/drop-off from Portalegre for those who wish to bus out here. Shorter walks are an option directly from the farm and Subi is always happy to accompany you.

  • 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

    Though I'm happy to host digital nomads my wifi is connected to my mobile phone which means it goes with me if I'm not around. It has unlimited access and so far has been fine for all online work and streaming needs. I have not tested it whilst more than one person is using it at a time and cannot speak to that at the moment. If you have specific requirements or rigorous online demands (lots of zoom meetings, etc) this might not be a good fit unless you have your own hotspot. I have Vodafone and reception here is fine. The kitchen table, the covered patio, and the entry nook all have spaces where one could work.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Contact me regarding the size and needs of your camper. There is a bit of a steep, narrow entry that must be navigated but after that there is an open, flat space of land accessible from the drive for a small camper or van.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Please contact me directly with details about any pets you will be bringing with you. My dog is well-behaved and well-socialized. Any animals you might have with you must also be.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 473886321864

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