We are Lee and Mel, a couple in our mid 40's starting a new project pretty much from scratch - currently living entirely off grid in a beautiful rural valley location in Oliveira do Hospital in Central Portugal.
The valley is beautiful, we border 2 rivers - the Rio Seia and the Rio Cobral. There is a waterfall on the Cobral which feeds into a levada - built in stone, (irrigation channel). When we arrived it was collapsed and in ruins - getting it up and running again was a labour of love and hugely rewarding. The water brings the entire place to life. In one part of the Rio Seia a deep pool carved into the rocks gives us our favourite natural swimming spot - but there are plenty of pools and special spots to enjoy without leaving the farm.
We have an area of 10 hectares which we are slowly developing with the goal of eventually running the farm as a rural tourism project alongside our agriculture interests. Entering 2021 we have a heck of a lot to do!
Basic accommodation for sleeping in either a caravan or a tent (with a proper bed and mattress).
Your bedding and towels are provided and we have a washing machine on site.
OFF GRID - WITH VERY BASIC / LIMITED FACILITIES
We have solar power which is sufficient for basic everyday needs and WiFi
No mains water - we have rainwater collection, and water from the river.
Dry composting toilets.
This means that anyone adventurous, (or daft) enough to join us will need to be up for going back to absolute basics with us. Being off grid can be a lot of fun but it can also be insanely challenging at times, we live in such a beautiful place -however at times it really aint easy!
The weather here in the central region is extreme. Mid winter it can be incredibly cold overnight. We get frost during the winter - there is snow on the mountains. Warm clothing and blankets are required. In the summer - it can get ridiculously hot.
Decent shoes and appropriate clothing are essential here. Its hilly terrain and you will need durable clothing suitable for a farm - be prepared to get dirty!
HELPING HOURS AND FREE TIME
We are asking for help with our projects for 5 mornings per week and will provide you with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Please let us know your dietary requirements and any allergy info.
The rest of the time is yours to do with as you please!
If you have your own transport there are many places to explore in the local area and beyond. Without transport there are a couple of villages within walking distance - but this is a quiet and rural area where the pace is slow. Grab a hammock and a book, swim, relax, stargaze and enjoy being well and truly unplugged.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We have a fluent Portuguese speaker in the house and our friends and neighbours will be delighted to talk to you in Portuguese so if you wish - there is ample opportunity to learn a new language. There are 2 cafes in our nearest village Andorinha, one has a restaurant where you can enjoy a 3 course meal with coffee and wine for around 8 euros and there are plenty of friendly and curious locals to chat with!
There is the opportunity to learn how to grow your own produce, (seeing what grows best in this climate), learn some preservation techniques - for example making sun dried tomatoes! - and in Autumn the possibility of getting involved with the harvesting of grapes and olives locally.
Animal care - we have a small herd of around 40 sheep, ducks & chickens.
Learn about all aspects of animal care - we usually shear the herd in May.
The village is very traditional, many people keep animals and farm their land, working incredibly hard. Our neighbours are very happy to chat and share their knowledge.
We have a whole lot of projects planned for our farm for 2021 - some friendly faces and helping hands would be a welcome sight indeed :)
We are particularly interested in hosting people with general skills in construction, gardening and cooking!
Some projects have just recently been started and are to be developed - most however will be started from scratch.
So far we have successfully cleaned and tamed about 5 hectares (another 5 to go) with the help of our sheep crew who were introduced in 2018 - but still have a long way to go!
Gardening, - design, planning, planting up and maintaining of vegetable patch
Harvesting, preserving and cooking
Tree planting - we lost lots of our trees in wildfires in 2017 and wish to plant lots more!
Clearing of broom and brambles
Chipping and mulching
Creating new stone steps
Watering - summer is HOT!
We need to build a compost toilet, create new water infrastructure, lay pipes, garden design, planting trees, food forest design, an outdoor kitchen to build, installation of a bread oven , a tree house/shade house, a shower , a camping zone, a mosaic project and the list goes on and on and on! We are also in the early stages of designing a hydro system.
It is literally back to basics - right from the start, so if you have interest in how to start this off-grid adventure (it's not always easy) then, perfect!
Digging channels for drainage
Building compost toilets
Building an outdoor shower and utility area
Building of an outdoor kitchen and pizza oven
Renovation of granite ruins (One almost complete - one in early stages of preparation).
Chopping and stacking of wood
Levada maintenance and repair - we have a fantastic stone levada (irrigation channel), which is fed from a small waterfall - that runs right through a large portion of our land. This is one of the most important features of the farm and its maintenance is critical - especially over the hot dry summer months. This irrigation system supplies our duck pond with water - and irrigates all of our crops.
Water infrastructure is to be designed, developed and built.
Development of rainwater collection
General DIY and maintenance.
Renovation - we are working on the rebuild and restoration of 2 small granite ruins.
Stone work - we have a whole heap of walls to rebuild, repair and create from scratch
Animal care - we currently have a herd of sheep, a few chickens, a lot of ducks, 2 rescue cats - Malachi and Ruby and 3 dogs, Sonny, Simba and Benji.
Building of hay feeders, drinking stations and shelters
Feeding, sorting bedding, collecting eggs, rescuing lost lambs, etc. Never a dull moment!
Fencing - creating secure areas for the sheep to graze
We have 11 years of experience of farming in Central Portugal so we have picked up a few tricks along the way :) We are however open to our volunteers bringing lots of fresh ideas and inspiration to the table too, as we are always open to learn.
This host offers a language exchange
English is our native language and we are happy to converse with you in English if you wish to learn / improve your language skills. We are always happy to talk in Portuguese and improve our vocabulary and grasp. Our daughter is fluent in both English and Portuguese and adores French - so if you speak French she would be super happy to learn from you!
Accommodation is in a caravan or tent with a proper bed and mattress.
Shower with hot water is communal. Dry composting toilets. Basic site facilities which are a work in progress.
Access to solar powered charging points and WIFI
If you have your own van or camper - you are also welcome to park up!
Transport is limited, a car is essential here if you wish to get out and about to explore.
This is down to earth, rural, Portuguese life - a complete back to basics experience.
If you are looking for excitement and nightlife - this is the wrong location!
We have loungers, hammocks, natural swimming spots in the river, books, board games, a big trampoline, swings etc.
There is plenty of space for relaxing and chilling out on site.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We currently have no mains running water but are happy to accommodate vans.
More than two
4 hours per day, 5 days a week