Help us in regenerative and permaculture farm project in keyline system in Alentejo, Portugal




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  • Description


    We´re a couple with 2 kids (9 and 14 years old) living inside the montado (mediterranean oakland) in Alentejo, Portugal.

    We have a permaculture vegetable garden, organic and biodynamic and we planted, until 2014, an orchard in keyline design (5,45 ha) of several fruit species and varieties: citrus, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, walnuts, almond nuts, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. We make our biodynamic compost, raise and collect our own seeds. We produce a lot Portuguese regional vegetable varieties.

    Catarina studied agronomy, specialized in organic farming, and worked is soil science for some years. Carlos studied Anthropology and worked as a journalist in local newspapers.
    We changed from urban to rural and have been organic farmers since 2006. We sold our products in an organic market between 2007 and 2009, but by that time we felt we were missing something. In 2009 we made our first Permaculture introduction course and we found the missing link: to help nature to produce what we want to eat (and not producing besides nature). Since that time we learned a lot, by making experiencies and observation, by reading and attending to courses in regenerative farming (keyline, holistic management, biofertilizers,...)

    In 2011 we moved to this property in Alentejo, close to Montemor-o-Novo, inside Herdade do Freixo do Meio, to start an independent project. We have two main objectives: soil regeneration and to produce good (quality) food for people (and live with its income).

    This region has very fragile soils, wich have been mistreated for several decades. The result is a very poor, erosionated, soil, compacted by deficient animal management and wrong machinery implements. It has very little fertility now, so, very little production of pasture or cereals, and a hard environment for cork and holm oaks.

    To achieve our objectives, we started by making a vegetable garden near the house, with raised and sunken permaculture beds. This garden, allowed us to sell vegetables to a group of consumers, every Friday during most of the year, for three years. We,ve stopped last year, because of too much work in thoe orchard, that didn't allowed us to produce enough vegetables for 20 families every week.

    We are planted the orchard in keyline design. Keyline design (the way we put plants, roads, buildings, etc., on the landscape), along with its implement, the Keyline plow, allows water to infiltrate and plant roots to develop deeper in the soil. In this way, a living soil is created, each year deeper. This design, being unlevelled also allows water to spread and to reach the driest zones on the landscape. It builds soil every year. We are currently planting several trees and bushes, legumes, dynamic accumulators and others for soil building, habitat maintenance and pest management, and for windbreak. We seed legumes and gramineas for soil improvement. We also applied the required corrective minerals in soil, determined by soil analyses, and rock dust.

    We have permaculture, keyline, soil microbiology and holistic management books on our library (mostly in english or spanish) that you can read and discuss, and several films about permaculture and regenerative farming.

    We are currently going deeper in regenerative farming: soil microrganisms, biofertilizers, holistic management, keyline and also biodynamic. We love to have volunteers that are willing to learn about this subjects, but also like people that just want to benefit from working at the peace and calm of this mediterranean oakland. Anyone with good spirit is welcome ;)

    Our house is very small, so people have to sleep in tents (spring/summer/autumn). Meals are taken with us, inside during rainy weather, outside during summer, and we also share the bathroom.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help with Eco project

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Our volunteers will spend lots of time with us, as a family, if wanted. We love to spread ou knowledge about permaculture and holistic farming and to discuss and hear about different life experiences...

  • Help


    Gardening in our vegetable garden. Planting bushes and plants for windbreaks. Mulching in the orchard. Moving chicken parks. Help with the meals. Playing with our children. Repairs at home, electricity... etc.
    We like to benefit from our volunteers skils, and we always adapt functions to skils and learning wishes.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    Portuguese, english, french, spanish

  • Accommodation



    Our house is very small, so people have to sleep in tents (spring/summer/autumn). Meals are taken with us, inside during winter, outside during summer, and we also share the bathroom.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Our project is being built inside a big organic farm in Portugal (Herdade do Freixo do Meio). We're in an mediterranean oak forest and there is a big artificial lake near by where we can go swiming during summer. We have a small village 4 km away, but big buses go to Montemor-o-Novo, 14 km away.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours a day 5 days a week

Host ref number: 565684474532