Greetings from Vale do Junco!
We are a young Portuguese family of three, Miguel (29), Rafaela (25) and our 1 year old daughter Olivia.
Our place is located close (7km) to the village of São Luís, we are about 20 km far from the beach, and very isolated (with the closest neighbour being 3km far).
The valley is blessed with the river Torgal with his majestic riparian galleries with hundred years old trees and a few kilometres down the river is the most beautiful "Pêgo das Pias", a lagoon with high cliffs carved by the water, amazing to swim and a must go for everyone visiting the region.
The Junco (reed) is a sign of water and it was what call us to this land, this abundance of reed is certainly a good sign of being on a water abundant landscape, what is very important when you live in a region with 400mm of rain and with an ongoing process of desertification.
When we moved to this land two years ago with the vision of living more connected with nature and becoming more awake and conscious of our roots, we understood the specific context of this region and the problems due to the climate change (becoming more and more dry with the seasons becoming less predictable and land management harder to do.)
Getting this and with our background of working on farms, as volunteers and as normal farm workers we quickly understood that the way to go, and the approach we needed, to change this landscape into a paradise, was LAND AND SOIL REGENERATION.
With this mindset set, we decided to start following different approaches, one of them was from an Australian master called P.A. Yeoman's that created the scale of permanence on the late 1930's, that later influenced permaculture and all this movements of redesigning our impact on nature.
This led us to start a lab of experiences that are focused on restoring the natural balance of the valley and understanding how we could set up a real sustainable land management here in south Alentejo with a greater goal of positively influence all the other farmers to create a more resilient and healthy region.
In our valley we focus on:
FOOD PRODUCTION THROUGH REGENERATIVE PRACTICES - we are making experiences of syntropic agriculture on the gardens and productive agro-forests, and we are also doing experiments on holistic management grazing with a flock of sheep. We keep bees, chickens, 2dogs and two cats and a donkey. We eat seasonally and most of the fresh veggies are from our garden.
TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES AND HERITAGE GENETICS - we are constantly chasing ancient knowledge from the elders as well as native fruit trees and seeds. In our seed bank we are currently protecting a portuguese old variety of wheat, blue corn, and blue beans and also other varieties that we are trying to keep as one of the main goals of the project.
NATIVE FOREST REGENERATION - for this we are focused on a native tree nursery that counts with around 3000 trees that we wish to transplant every year.
BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE - As we arrived only 2 years ago, there is a lot to be built! When we arrived there was only a ruin and almost nothing else for human comfort, we arrived on our funky caravan/house and we spent this time rebuilding part of the ruin, setting an off-grid solar energy system, building a water tank, a dam, and new accesses to the farm.
COOPERATIVE MINDSET - We are focus on developing strategies to involve the community on our farm and create a closer relationship betweeen consumer and producer.
1. We prefer volunteers who can join us for longer periods of time, so we will give priority to those volunteers who can commit to a minimum of two weeks.
2. We are omnivores, we eat mostly vegetarian meals with own produced food, but every now and then we like to make Portuguese traditional meat and fish dishes with locally sourced food. We can provide the same what we eat for volunteers, this means eating seasonal, local, mainly plant-based homegrown food.
3. Living off-grid means that there are some restrictions on power and water usage, and as well a consciousness about our impact on the land, so we ask volunteers to bring non-toxic biodegradable soaps and shampoos or otherwise use our own soaps .
4. We work hard on the farm! Sometimes the weather conditions can be hard (like 45ºC in the summer or -5ºC in the winter, so come prepared to work on harsh conditions. We work mostly with our hands and sometimes the work to be done is very physical and outdoors, so if manual labour is not for you then maybe our space is not your ideal choice.
5. We have very connected to the local traditional community so we expect you to respect all the people and their way of living.
6. We are very open to volunteers who stay with us. We will share our space, we cook and eat together, and we bring you into our lives which means working, playing, partying, and exploring together. By joining our space you will be coming as friends yet we give the most importance to the work exchange and we are not a place where you can expect free accommodation.
7. We are taking the first steps on this farm and because this place was abandoned for 20 years, there is a lot of structural work to be done and the place itself feels like a working site!
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
We can teach you a lot of different skills about off-grid farm living, structural planning of farmlands, regenerative agriculture, plant knowledge, animal care, native ecosystems, native species, local culture, portuguese language
let us know what are you willing to learn!
We count on you to join the everyday farm work (garden maintenance, animal care, making food, forest works, help with baby Olivia) or for other specific projects that we may be doing at the time.
Depending on the season we start between 7am or 8am and we work until midday, then we share lunch, we can cook together or one of us can do it for the others that are still working outdoor, after lunch during winter we work until 5pm/6pm and during summer we stop until 5pm come back to work only at that time because of the heat and then we work until 8pm or 9pm. You can fit on this routine, has you wish, keeping the 5hours maximum on one day.
Sometimes we work during weekends, but we do not expect you to do so, there amazing beaches nearby and loads of other things to enjoy on your free time!
At the moment we are building and landscaping all the front of the house and this is one of the main works, also we are harvesting the heritage wheat and designing the animal shelter.
Portuguese, English, Spanish
For accommodation we have a lot of possibilities:
We have a yurt with a simple kitchen and a woodburner that can be used by the volunteers as a shared living place when we don't have family or friends staying there.
Next to the yurt we built a compost toilet and HOT shower for everyone to use!
There are two caravans with double bed on both of them, one has wood burner for winter time!
Fortunately there are still many trees to hang hammocks as well as many flat areas to setup tents!
The region of São Luís is starting to provide a nice cultural agenda with theatre, outdoor movies sessions, art festivals coming to the area.
We are 20km far from beautiful beaches of Costa Vicentina and 7km far from Pêgo das Pias (mentioned above). If you like sun and sand!
Also there is hiking trail of more than 250km called Rota Vicentina that passes here on our land.
There are outdoor markets, parties, workshops that can be of your interest.
You can come by bus to São Luís (our preference) or by train to funcheira, we will get you there!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week