Permaculture, natural building, wild swimming, off-grid adventure near Oliveria do Hospital, Portugal




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  • Description


    If you are looking for a longer term escape in nature- back to basics, un-plug from the world and re-connect to your wilder side - or maybe you are interested in a taste of living off grid and what it really means to start from the VERY BEGINNING?!

    *️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️Vegetarian/Vegan Happily accommodated.
    Permaculture. Natural alternative building. Food forest design. Re-wilding in Nature. Perennial garden design. Wild swimming. Re foresting. Post Fire landscape regeneration, working hard and goofing about with laughter Is our Vibe, and afternoon gin and tonic in the sunshine.

    Hello Hello!

    2022 will be our 11th year of hosting volunteers.
    (although we have had a bit of a break as we have been away working and covid ruined some fun!)

    From experience, we have learnt it is important to give you as much information as we can, for you to manage expectations and make an informed and realistic decision if you would like to come and stay.......

    We are Hannah and Duncan.
    An English couple in our thirties and forties. We have been off-grid for 12 years in Portugal.

    NOW WE START A NEW CHAPTER.....We have bought a new piece of land..... to START completely from the BEGINNING ALL OVER AGAIN!!
    We are very sad to say good bye to all that we have created in the last decade,
    but excited, with help again, from excellent volunteers, to Build lots more fun and exciting things to share with all those who come to stay and learn with us.

    using permaculture principles for our growing and life ethos in general.
    We have been (successfully) experimenting with creating different micro climates to extend our food growing seasons,
    Using space to grow, try out ideas, its been a wonderful playground in which we have learnt so much
    We have built a stone house, water infrastructure, solar systems serious landscaping.
    We've messed around with super adobe, clay and cobb.
    We have also built two underground geodesic domes and a HUGE, double reciprocal, green, round timber structure, with our own harvested round wood. All, exclusively with volunteers.
    Its been so much fun....
    We are so grateful.

    We still have many more techniques we'd love to try.


    Our new home, is still a building site...''the pionering phase" which is code for - a bit of a mess!
    its been a slow year of progress.... but we try celebrate the wins
    to us, it remains, our little piece of beautiful wilderness, mountain views, forgotten by people for a long time and reclaimed by Nature.
    Apart from the occasional plane, (and our dog barking at them) the only sounds are the birds, the wind in the few remaining trees recovering post-fire, The occasional shepherd and his sheep or goats and the stream that flows.

    We are continuing to seek help from those of you who relish living close to nature and have a good sense of humour(this is crucial!!)
    if you have strong work ethic along with a pioneering & creative spirit. Who do not mind carrying water, bathing in a bucket and pooing in the woods you will fit right into our vibe!

    We were hit by the forest fires in October 2017 and 2022. So a huge focus now (November to february) is water infrastructure, lakes, dams and ponds and swales
    Re-forestation with native (less flammable!) species of trees.

    Summer times are focused on designing and making permaculture inspired gardens and food forests and animal systems as well as creating more fun, natural/appropriate buildings with materials from the land, all the while trying to preserve the ‘wild’ nature of the place.
    For the next years though- its basically going to be a building site. (partly for managing my own expectation- partly for your own)

    A large blank canvas that is our new home, is here to inspire you! And probably overwhelm us!

    We'll have lots of ongoing activities, mostly un-glamorous such as: clearing the stream old dead burnt trees, chopping down broom, mulching, chipping, making paths, chopping down broom, and new steps, building fences, chopping firewood, carrying water, chopping down broom, moving rocks, re-pionting ruins, pruning the regenerating oak trees, weeding and composting. Digging- lots of digging. And lots of dragging dead burnt trees. And did i mention..... chopping down broom!

    We need to build a compost toilet, a new pizza oven, more water infrastructure, laying pipes, garden design, planting trees, food forest design, an outdoor kitchen to build, a shower , a camping zone, finish building a house!! and make that pretty!
    the list goes on and on and on! It is literally back to the beginning, so if you have interest in how to start this off-grid adventure (it's not always easy and its definitely NOT GLAMOUROUS!! ) then, perfect.

    We love integrating different ideas and skills and many of our longer term volunteers (longest stay is 14 months!) have had autonomy over certain creations. If you have the time to mess around with an idea- but never had a space in which you can, we invite you to come and try!

    We at least hope, that everyone who comes here learns a new skill, tries something different and leaves a little/large creation for us to remember you by.

    One of our main objectives as hosts, is for you to gain confidence and trust in your own abilities in general. Using a selection of hand tools, to understanding the basics of permaculture and the general vibe of living off grid. Growing and harvesting food, vegetarian/vegan cooking. Holistic approaches to life. Making new friends. being silly.
    And to HAVE FUN!

    Working from 9am to 12.30 (changes due to season, temperature and the type of work and other plans)
    3 or 4 days a week.
    All of this is flexible, its a working HOLIDAY after all.
    We do work hard! Part of staying here is that you get stuck in to the best of your ability.

    You are then free to enjoy your afternoons/remaining hours/days and weekends however you choose. We have very few neighbours or people to disturb you throughout this entire valley.

    I (Hannah) am a professional cook, and pride myself on creating super-exciting, highly nutritious, seasonal, colourful feasts that are super-duper healthy (95 percent of the time).
    The food and feeding our volunteers as best we can, has been hugely important to us, we can guarantee that we can provide you with utterly excellent lunch and dinner time meals. during the days we ask for your help.
    The diet here is mostly vegetarian, but vegans happily/easily accommodated.

    *️️️️️️️️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️do you have any special dietary requirements or allergies?*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️

    The rest of your week, we ask you to supply yourselves with your own food.

    On Sundays we head to our local market to support local farmers. There we buy the extra fruit, veg, cheese, pulses, dried herbs and spices, bread and honey.
    We highly recommend you buying your food from here too- so much better than the super market.

    But most importantly, Sundays are duncan and my ''day off''
    we go to eat bbq grilled chicken/vegetables/fish with bread, hand cut potato chips(fries) and fizzy white WINE FOR BREAKFAST!
    We love it when our volunteers can join us!! Its very FUN!
    (this is at your own personal cost usually around 10 euros)

    We also TRY very hard to only eat Portuguese seasonal and locally grown produce, so if you cannot survive without bananas or other foods from the other side of the world, you might want to stock up on these too. Likewise with luxury items like sweets/chocolate/crisps etc

    We are trying to live a balanced lifestyle, no drugs and only small amounts of alcohol that we ask volunteers to pay for.
    We operate an ''honesty'' bar ......Or you are welcome to buy (and carry) your own booze. We enjoy a beer/gin n tonic after work, but all things in moderation.

    We do NOT invite you into our home to get drunken..

    We are a fun and easy going couple, who love to play games and joke about, but we do not consider this a party zone. We are up early, we work hard and we like our sleep at night..... most of the time.
    Hannah likes to put loud music on at least one EARLY morning a week and dance (like an idiot) It is her meditation, if you like......

    If you have transport, its easy to take trips up the mountain to swim in the lakes (ski in the winter!) or to the river Mondego for a change of scenery. we can direct you to some pretty incredible secret plunge pools and very cold waterfalls.

    We ask you to be conscientious and tidy and responsible for your belongings and most importantly your LITTER.
    Due to the huge fire risk in summer we ask you only smoke in our designated safe zones. NOT in your tent. NO candles or incense or anything with potenial to burn, in tents either.
    STRICTLY NO FIRES! (it is against the law)
    We can not stress this enough and sadly we will not hesitate to ask you to leave, if you can not respect these wishes.

    In the summer it get REALLY REALLY HOT!! But you will still need a decent sleeping bag at night as it does cool down.
    We recommend you bring loose-fitting long sleeve clothes to get dirty in and a sun hat. We, on behalf of the stream or river's inhabitants- are very much against sun tan lotion, so just cover your skin up.
    Please note, we use only natural products, i.e shampoo/toothpaste, as all our grey water feeds the ground/garden. Likewise if you are enjoying the river, or a ''shower'', no chemicals, i.e harsh moisturisers or sunscreen or heavy make-up. We can supply you with delicious hand made alternatives, for a small fee.

    We have very limited water in Summer and Autumn (or until it rains) so regular washing is only in a simple hot water bucket (heated in the sun) or fire in the winter for a hotwash- you will have to fetch/carry your own water
    You will have to hand wash your clothes, we do sometimes take large amounts of laundry to town and pay to use large machines. although whilst we are back at the house, hot shower and washing machine is availible!

    Bring stout footwear, a good sleeping bag, head-torch and always know the whereabouts of your towel.....
    we have just put up a huge 7meter geogesic dome that will have a log burner for shared volunteer winter accomodation! exciting!

    any questions- don't hesitate to ask!

    our warmest wishes
    Hannah and Duncan

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet

  • 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

    One of our main objectives as hosts, is for you to gain confidence and trust in your own abilities in general. Using a selection of hand tools, to understanding the basics of permaculture and the general vibe of living off grid. Growing and harvesting food, vegetarian/vegan cooking. Holistic approaches to life. Making new friends. being silly.
    And to HAVE FUN!

  • Help


    We will have many projects beginning.
    Here is a list of a few.......
    And we are always open to volunteers ideas/designs/input.....
    Permaculture design.
    Making compost.
    Making hugel beds.
    Digging swales and troughs.
    Food forest design and planting.
    Green roofing of a ruin.
    Shade house.
    Compost toilets.
    Outdoor shower.
    Water infrastructure.
    Gardening design and planting.
    Perennial Planting.
    Seed collections and germination.
    Cobb work.
    Wood work using our own harvested round wood.
    Peeling trees.
    Chopping wood.
    Carrying water.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    Portuguese: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    tent/van/ geo dome

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    flying Into Porto:
    Just outside Porto airport is a metro, take this to stop- 24 augosto, the bus station is a 2 minute walk from here just across a little green park type area.
    Ask for a ticket to Oliveria do Hospital.
    if you are (or look) under 28 years old ask for a ''bilhetta jovem'' you will get a discount.


    Lisbon is a bit further but the bus or train is also easy.

    our closest train station is called Nelas (pronounced nel-lash)


    From Oliveria-we strongly encourage our volunteers to try find their own way to our quinta,
    a taxi will be around 20euro

    or there is a local bus to Travancinha....
    we will send you detailed directions to find your way along the dirt roads from Travancinha, to ours. it is about 2 km on foot from the village.
    But we are willing and able and can collect you, if you are not comfortable to navigate alone.

    please speak to us before you book bus or train tickets regarding us collecting you from somewhere. we do not like to leave the Quinta after 6pm!! and if we have other volunteers arriving is always nice to car pool.

    Our Quinta is about 15km from oliveria. We try to only visit once per week, so make sure you stock up on the essentials before coming.

    There are a few small bars/cafe/restaurant in local towns, each about a 40 min walk away.
    Lagares and Travancinha

    Our social activities are made by ourselves on the land. We make and play lots of games eg. frisbee golf, ping pong, Klugg, Carcassonne, Backgammon, Dice and Cards and we are always open to learn new games. There is a library (English) of educational books and novels to borrow.

    We are in the foothills of Serra da Estrela mountains which are great for skiing, walking, cycling and swimming. The track along our top boundary is part of route 22 of the Portuguese mountain trails. Its Beautiful.

    We have had many many ''first timers'' volunteer with us and all have loved it and return every year!

    look forward to hearing from you,

    our very kindest regards
    Hannah and Duncan

  • 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

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    but this needs to be trialed and talked about (my dog is getting old and grumpy!)

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected


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Host ref number: 574159519394