Sustainable living in Normandy, France looking for 1-3 month stays - building, carpentry and gardening



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  • Description


    About the work available:

    January 2017 - we are looking for a carpenter to help with various projects. You will be in a luxury room in our bed and breakfast.
    April to July 2017 - we are looking for help with gardening, carpentry and building work from April to July. From July onwards there will also be harvesting work.
    August 2017 - we are also looking for a volunteer to help for the first 3 weeks in August to help with the bed and breakfast - cleaning, washing bedding, making up rooms and helping serve breakfast and evening meals and harvesting fruits and berries. If you have the talent you can help cook as well. Please note we only need help with the bed and breakfast in August, so do not contact us for this work at other times of the year.
    October and November 2017 - we are looking for help with building and carpentry work. We are also looking for help moving the wood pile into the barn from the forest and chopping down eucalyptus trees.

    We accept volunteers for longer stays of 1 to 3 months. We will except a shorter stay for the August bed and breakfast helper of 3 weeks, or longer if you are keen to help with other jobs as well.

    If you have a good attention to detail, like physical work and do not tire easily this is the place for you. If you are not used to physical work you will find the work here too physically demanding.

    About us:

    We are 12km from the famous market town of St Hilaire du Harcouet and the WW2 history town of Mortain and 1 hour from Mont St. Michel and the beach. Peter (62), spends most of his time with his eco building projects in the house and garden and helping with the B&B. Katy (47), teaches Tai Chi, Qigong and Relaxation and helps with the B&B. Both Peter and Katy meditate daily.

    We are creating a 1 and a ¼ acre forest garden for eco living to provide all organic vegetables, eggs, firewood and medicinals. Trees, shrubs and perennial plantings will fix the nitrogen to feed the soil and provide food, drinks, twine and medicines while attracting beneficial insects. We are on a steep permaculture and sustainable living learning curve. We grow many vegetables and fruits, saving our own seed and sourcing heritage varieties.

    Sustainable living includes eating what we grow so don't expect bananas. We only buy fruits and vegetables from the shops when we don't have enough fresh or preserved. Home grown foods often take longer to prepare, as they need to be harvested and washed first and come in all shapes and sizes and taste great. Dinner preparation generally starts with a walk around the garden picking produce so please do not volunteer if you prefer ready washed food from the fridge or shops. Sustainable living is not as romantic as you might think!

    We eat a mainly vegetarian diet with regular fish and very occasional meat. Vegetarians, vegans, meat and fish eaters are all welcome, as long as the meat and fish eaters are happy to eat mainly vegetarian. We do not drink alcohol ourselves yet are happy for you to enjoy the odd glass.

    We love stimulating conversation, music, meditation and uplifting books and films. We have loads of books (mostly in English) you are welcome to read. We don't have a TV. We have a good wireless network so feel free to bring your laptop or other devise. We are very rural so if making music, reading, conversation and when the evenings are light the countryside are not your thing this is probably not the right place for you.

    Peter and Katy are interested in living sustainably and uncovering their full potential, and humanities full potential. They wish to meet others who want to find out about themselves and the environment and how we can live naturally in physical and spiritual abundance. We have found it does not work out for us with volunteers who want to drink alcohol every night, but if you like a glass of wine or beer a few times a week you are welcome. No alcohol is to be taken into your room. Workawayers who ignore this are asked to leave.

    We find we mainly speak English at home when we have English speaking volunteers so if you want to improve your French speak in French and we will naturally answer in French. Likewise we mainly speak French when we have French speaking volunteers.

  • Type of help

    Type of help


  • 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

    We are spiritual, meditate and look within. We know a lot about what does and does not work at a sustainable level. We are also in the heart of rural France.

    Anyone who is interested in the above or who simply is unemployed at the moment and is happy to work in exchange for their keep is welcome. We have found it works particularly well with people who do a little paid work on line as they need to earn very little while volunteering to have a great quality of life and we benefit from achieving so much more than we can at a practical level on our own.

  • Help


    We ask for 5 hours volunteering 5 days a week plus a fair share of the cooking and washing up. We all eat together and provide 3 meals a day.

    Most of the work is physically demanding so do not volunteer unless you have the stamina for the work and are not afraid of the odd aching muscle!

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Beginner

  • Accommodation


    The January carpenter will be in a luxury bed and breakfast guest room.

    For our April to October volunteers - we have created a volunteer/visiting friend & family room in the cellar so we can have volunteers/family/friends and paying B&B guests at the same time. We go to bed early so you will need to be quiet after 10.30pm. We have paying bed and breakfast guests staying in the same house. You need to be clean, tidy and respectful at all times or you will be asked to leave.

    (Summer volunteers (May to September) stay in a tent in our large garden or in the workawayer room if they prefer or if the weather is bad. We provide the tent, sleeping bag, matress and pillow.)

    Please state when you apply if you do not wish to share the room (which has 2 single beds) or you wish to place a restriction such as female room mate only. This helps us organise volunteers, friends and family.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are very rural. The train from Paris is about 3 hours to Vire, followed by the number 14 bus to Mortain. There is public transport from the ports of Caen and Cherbourg and the towns of Avranches and Rennes. The train from Paris is about 40 euros one way booked last minute and much cheaper booked in advance, the bus 3 euros.

    We have bikes available for workawayers to use - bring your cycle helmet.

  • 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

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    25 hours per week plus a fair share of the cooking and washing up.

Workawayers and visiting family sleep here
The lounge, would you like to help prepare the wooden floor for sanding and varnishing by cleaning and filling the gaps?
The polytunnel in january snows with growing vegetables.
Building the polytunnel in October 2012
Warren and Jasmine by Mont Marin in August 2012
Artist Susan unveiling the stained glass window she created for us
The vegetable patch
The front garden in June 2012
Chicks protecting the courgettes from slugs
Peter, Katy and Jasmine at the waterfalls in Mortain 12km away
Warren surfing at Carolles an hours drive away
Katy teaching Tai Chi
Sunset view from the lounge window
Front view of the house and some of the barns

Host ref number: 6537463494d2