Practice yoga, meditation, permaculture and eco-building in Sarzades, Portugal

  • Portugal
  • Favourited 878 times
  • Last activity: 26 Mar 2023



 Min stay requested: at least 1 month



  • Description


    Olá! I'm Adam, from the UK. I'm in the process of building a small collaborative community that can also serves as a charitable school of nature, offering courses from time to time. However, primarily, it is a place to live.

    Right now, it's just me and I am seeking volunteers who are interested in basic off-grid living with the opportunity to practice yoga, permaculture, eco-building and healthy eating with seasonal ingredients.

    I'm creating a retreat vibe here. We embrace the changing tune of Nature's music more than anything man made. And the silence is golden! It's a safe space that will hold you in a place to listen inwards, to feel and to see more than you would in everyday life. Many people have benefited from being here so far. We do enjoy a good boogie woogie from time to time though!

    The project is based on a rustic piece of land in the green heart of Portugal, a riverside paradise 20kms west of Castelo Branco. Almost two years into an exciting, explorative and hopefully an extremely fulfilling project. The long term goal is to establish a small self-sufficient community of 6-8 people that also hosts one or two permaculture, eco-building or meditation courses per year. My vision includes:

    🌱 Converting a stone agricultural building into a tiny house;
    🌱 building a series of Superabobe domes using as much locally sourced materials as possible;
    🌱 Integrating renewable and free energy techniques and technology;
    🌱 Growing a food forest of colour, fragrance and edibles and encouraging wild foraging of food;
    🌱 Building a hillside auditorium for yoga, music events and outdoor cinema (most likely in 2025).
    🌱 Giving back to the community of local people and volunteers, through tree donations and scholarships and subsidised training on our courses.

    🌼 Encourage everyone to develop a grounded sense of being through daily spiritual practice. I practice vipassana meditation and yin yoga, but you may wish to follow your own practice be it tai chi, dance or anything else that brings you into your body and in connection with the greater consciousness.

    🌼 Zero waste - we live consciously in consuming as little electricity and water, as possible. We recycle as much as we can and try not to buy non-recyclables. No food is wasted and all vegetable scraps go to composting.

    🌼 Organics only - to minimise our impact on nature we use natural soaps, toothpastes, cleaning agents, etc, wherever possible.

    🌼 Quiet time - we observe noble silence (mauna) from 9pm to 8am. This help cultivate a sacred space and encourages us to look inwards.

    There are many things I'd love to build and grow. Right now, I'm prioritising the following to complete this year:

    🌿 Stone House Conversion - solving the problem of a flooding basement, rendering the walls, building an earthen floor, creating a mezzanine bed, connecting up with our solar system and installing a wood burning stove.

    🌿 Superabobe Kitchen - finishing the building started last year. Constructing the walls, fitting the roof, plastering the inside and outside, installing rainwater harvesting, plumbing and solar electrics and then building an earthen floor.

    🌿 Veggie Garden and Food Forest -
    Plant now and harvest for many years to come. Last year I plant about 80 trees and started a small vegetable garden. We need to improve the irrigation system, create more compost, plant beneficial species around the trees and mulch the trees heavily.

    Everyone begins as a volunteer. I prefer it if people can stay for three weeks minimum and past workawayers have said that two weeks is not enough.

    If you like it here and would consider staying for longer, we can talk about it. Afterall, I am looking to establish a small collaborative community. The longer people stay, the more I like to include them in collaborative design work and decision making.

    The project is in a very secluded area with both a river and a seasonal stream along it's border. In India, the place where two bodies of water meet is said to be a very special place. It's also got both flat and sloped sections of land with existing fruit trees. It all needs a lot of love and attention. 3kms away is the municipal village, Sarzedas and Castelo Branco is 25kms away.

    July to August are hot and dry with temperatures reaching 40-42⁰C. Cooler nights of around 20⁰C. Luckily, we have the river and nice shady trees. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times for the manual work. During winter, night-time temperatures can drop to -12⁰C (on clear nights) and then rise again to be between 11-20⁰C.

    At the moment, due to the rising cost of living, I can only host one volunteer. Your help here will be based upon a well-established karma yoga program, the benefits of which will help you to learn about yourself, relationships with others and perhaps your purpose in life. You will learn a great deal about permaculture and living off-grid as well.

    I believe in fairness and a good team effort. We'll aim to put in a maximum of 5 hours, 5 days a week. If we run over when a project needs to get done, we'll then do less the next day. Our schedule can change but right now it looks roughly like this:

    0630-0800 daily practice (yoga or meditation)
    0830-1000 help
    1000-1100 breakfast
    1100-1430 help
    1430-1700 free-time
    1700-1900 dinner and cleaning up

    Please note: just like being at home, cooking breakfast and dinner plus doing the dishes and cleaning are not included in the 5 hours of help (except for those who are helping in the kitchen during the build). Cooking and washing dishes will be evenly worked on a rota basis.

    For summer & autumn:
    • Long sleeved clothes and hat for sun protection;
    • Water bottle (fresh spring water will be provided);
    • your own hammock;
    • Clothes for swimming;
    • a good book;
    • towel;
    • Head torch;
    • A notepad and pen.

    For spring & winter:
    • A good waterproof jacket or poncho;
    • Good shoes or Wellington boots;
    • Warm clothes as the nights and early mornings can be freezing cold;
    • Water bottle (fresh spring water will be provided);
    • A towel;
    • Head torch;
    • A notepad and pen.

    To support everyone within this sacred space, I, along with previous and current volunteers have defined some agreements:

    • Be kind and respectful to others;
    • Be on time for the help required of you;
    • Keep silence between the hours of 8pm and 8am (sometimes the hours change depending on what we do);
    • No alcohol, drugs or tobacco on the project;
    • If you damage something, it is your responsibility to repair it or replace it;
    • No food in the accommodations (it will attract ants and mice);
    • No meat on the project (we can't store it and don't want to attract wildlife in that way).

    The way we live here fosters a process of growth for all involved. I appreciate open communication, a good work ethic, initiative and punctuality. Above all we practice the values of being abundant, enthusiastic, giving, kind and truthful.

    To my delight this project is turning out to be very popular and I find it necessary to ask everyone a series of questions. Please include your answers in your contact message:

    Are you able and willing to help out for up to five hours and day, five days per week?

    Are you willing to bring a positive attitude to this project?

    What interests you about this project?

    What does being in nature mean to you?

    Have you ever lived off-grid or been camping for more than two weeks before?

    What skills and qualities would you bring to this project?

    Is there anything of a personal nature that you would like to work on whilst here?

    Do you like to cook for others and with others (if needed)?

    What is your email or contact number for Telegram or WhatsApp?

    I do my best to reply to workaway requests within a couple of days.

    It is a privilege for me to offer this opportunity to you, as a budding volunteer. Living off-grid takes acceptance of the way things are, humility and a good deal of letting go. More than that though, this place has something special about it. Wrapped up within a the sounds of bird song, water, wind are gentle reminders of who we really are. Dedication to our practice and the karmic work helps draw those lessons into conscious awareness. It is my wish for you that, through this experience you unlearn something about yourself every day that you are here.


  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    General Maintenance
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    You'll learn a great deal about permaculture. Plus also daily yoga. By the way, if you are also a bodyworker, treatment exchanges would be most welcome.

  • Help


    Living off-grid is about routine and more routine. Discipline around having the basics handled enables us to enjoy the fun bits of project work - the meditation, yoga, building and permaculture.

    With that in mind there is a list of daily tasks that we need help with including collecting and storing firewood, fetching water, cleaning communal spaces and handling food waste for compost.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    French: Beginner
    Portuguese: 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


    Essential food ingredients and accommodation included. Don't expect luxury here. Our off-grid style is basic with compost toilets, washing in the river or in our outdoor shower. We also cook our food in our open air kitchen. In other words it's basic and we love it like that.

    From November to the beginning of March, we close down for rest and rejuvenation. Then we open up again for spring, summer and autumn.

    There are options to stay in a cabin, van, or tents. You'll have a single bed in either one. Of course, you can bring your own tent, van or camping hammock if you wish to.

    I offer the essential and basic ingredients for two vegetarian meals a day plus lots of fruit for snacks. If you have any special dietary requirements, please bring your choice of product with you. If you need to buy more whilst here, we do a food shop in Castelo Branco once a week where I can help you to source it locally.

    Please note, this is a vegetarian project and we are very much look forward to cooking the most delicious and healthy meals with you. However, if you are a meat eater, Portuguese cuisine is highly meat orientated with some friendly local restaurants in the area or a bit further away in Castelo Branco. You are welcome to dine out at your own expense if you wish to do so.

    Until we make an off-grid alternative, I do my laundry in Castelo Branco when it is needed. If you want to join in, we share the cost.

    Unfortunately, due to the demands of the project, I am unable to offer exchanges involving children or dogs.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We're sited in the region of Castelo Branco. Val Chiquiero is the closest village which is about 25 minutes from Castelo Branco town. I can offer pick up and drop off in Castelo Branco for a contribution of €20 (must be arranged in advance). Alternatively, there is a bus from Castelo Branco via the N233 that passes by Val Chiquiero. From there the project is a 30 minute walk away or we can pick you up by prior arrangement (again with a fuel contribution).

    Sarzades is about 2h15 by car from Lisbon (via the toll roads). From Castelo Branco it's 25 minutes.

    The closest airport is also Lisbon Portela Airport. From there, there is the options of both buses and trains to get to Castelo Branco.

    By train from Lisbon Airport is real easy. Take the airport metro to Lisboa Santa Apolonia train station. You need to buy a metro card, it's simple and cheap. At the train station buy a train ticket for Castelo Branco (I've read that online systems are unreliable).

    If choosing bus, take the 509 bus (operated by Comboios de Portugal) from the airport to SETE RIOS STATION. Tickets for Castelo Branco can be bought from the ticket office. I understand that Citi Express is the bus company.

    Other ways may include car-sharing apps like BlaBlaCar, although I have not used this app in Portugal.

    As well as the river on my land, there are three 'river beaches' all within 5km distance. There are two small villages with local amenities, both 3kms away. For horse lovers, we collect manure from a friend's stable twice a week, where you can spend time around five beautiful horses and a pony. We'll also do a fortnightly trip to the city for Monday's market. The Garduhna and Estrella mountain ranges are to the north, about an hour drive away. The historic village of Monsanto and the Spanish border are a little bit further.

    There will be daily yoga practice which is orientated towards increasing our inner fire during winter. Plus, if you wish to have a traditional and professional Thai massage, you can book one with me.

  • 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

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    The parking space is down a track on a flat terrace suitable for a medium-wheel base campervan.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 549714443349

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