Hello, we are Melanie and Evan, a Greek-American/Irish couple living and working on our permaculture homesteading project in a small mountain village (Alagonia, at 800m) in the south of Greece.
For the last 5 years, we have been learning how to live off the land, incorporating village wisdom with modern methods. Our main focus has been growing and preserving the majority of our food, processing surplus food to sell at local markets, retrofitting our ancestral house, clearing and preparing land for future food forests, and learning to organize our lives according to the seasons.
Aside from working towards self-sufficiency, we also hope to provide a viable example of modern, simple, natural living in the largely abandoned Greek countryside. We believe that the multitude of emptied Greek villages scattered throughout the country have immense potential to, once again, serve the needs of the local (and regional) community and contribute to the regeneration of the natural environment.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We live in a mountain village, with a small (mainly elderly) population, that is somewhat isolated from modern urban life. Interaction with the local villagers is inevitable, and they are always curious to meet new people. Only a few can understand English/German, so you will have the opportunity to practice Greek (usually over coffee and homemade treats).
Both Melanie and Evan have spent time traveling various parts of the world, exploring and volunteering on different projects (through workaway and other exchange networks). We look forward to swapping stories and sharing ideas.
- Clearing Olive/Chestnut Fields (cleaning around trees, cutting grass/brambles, pruning, mulching branches)
- Reclaiming Overgrown properties (clearing field of overgrowth, mulching branches, improving accessability)
- Mapping out/Designing future food forests
- Setting up property for future Market Garden (raised beds)
- Marketing help - Logo/Website design and maintenance (and teaching!)
- Fencing properties
- Cutting and stacking wood
- Painting and plastering
- Building sheds/structures
- Harvesting and processing (preserving) fruit/veg
- Zero-Waste Village Project: Help establish permanent Swap Shop in the village; Facilitate minimizing waste generation at local celebrations
- Creation of Trails Network: Help clear overgrown old footpaths that used to connect different parts of the mountain and nearby villages; Creation of Trail Map to encourage sustainable eco-tourism
* Knowledge of Permaculture, Natural Farming/Living * Gardening * Handling Machinery (strimmers, chainsaw, mulcher, hand tools) * Carpentry/Construction skills * Computer/Graphic Design
MUST be comfortable with using hand tools and carry out tasks thoughtfully. Experience with communal living/working would be very helpful. Jobs are usually worked on together. Many of our jobs are labor intensive, but we replenish ourselves well with plenty of good food!
ONGOING TASKS, varying throughout the year, include:
* Vegetable bed Designing (with Intercropping) & Building * Seed saving * Nursery care * Garden Maintenance & Irrigation * Sowing, Planting, Weeding & Mulching * Natural Building/Upcycled construction * Compost heap Composition & Maintenance * Tree Planting & Reforestation * Compost production * Plant & Weed Identification * Garden Structure construction * Tree Pruning * Fencing * Wood Harvesting * Cleaning Fields * Harvesting Fruits & Vegetables * Preserving Fruits/Vegetables * Cooking (with what's available in the garden/freezer/pantry) * General House Maintenance : cleaning, organizing * House DIY jobs: plastering, painting
WORKING SCHEDULE: We try to start our day early (especially in the summertime, as it gets very hot by the mid-day).
WHAT IS EXPECTED:
As a COHABITANT, you will be expected to contribute to the day to day chores of keeping the living spaces tidy.
KITCHEN DUTIES - Cleaning up after all meals, washing/drying dishes. If volunteers would like to cook one or two meals per week, it would be much appreciated.
FIELDWORK - When working offsite, on fields away from the homestead, the days may be longer, and we'll always have a picnic lunch.
EXCHANGE - In exchange for your honest hard work, we offer a real life experience of practical permaculture and homesteading. We want to share... what we have learned on our own journeys, our mistakes and successes, our attempts to apply theories of natural farming, our stories of work on others' projects that have inspired our own, our life and community here in Alagonia, and of course all of the hyper-local organic food we grew and preserved with our own hands.
DURATION - We ask that you commit to a minimum of 2 weeks, as it takes some time to adapt to a new environment and routine. Longer period stays are also welcomed, if its working out well for everybody.
* WE ASK that you be self-motivated, eager to learn, approach tasks thoughtfully, take initiative, and genuinely interested in this lifestyle. It is not always easy and laid-back, and you might leave here with a callous or sunburn, but it is so rewarding (in our opinion) and you will leave with empowering hands-on experience and a stomach full of nourishing whole foods!
*** PLEASE answer these QUESTIONS in your intro message:
- Skill-building/Experience: What do you feel that you can contribute to our project, AND what specifically would you like to take away from your experience here (How can we help you)? What kinds of projects have you worked on in the past, and what from that experience could be applied here?
- Your Vision: Are you looking to establish your own homestead or make a radical move towards self-sufficiency? If so, do you already have a site, are in the process of looking for one, or do you plan to take these skills back with you to an already established community?
Private room OR shared room with other volunteers (depending on availability.)
Shared bathroom and kitchen.
Traditional village house, well over 100 years old. Lots of space and sitting areas, including yard and balconies.
Everything will be provided: sheets, towels, (olive) soap/detergent, spare/work clothes and gloves.
FOOD: We are a Vegan/Vegetarian household. We eat fresh, seasonal, local food. Most of what we eat is grown and preserved by us, and the rest is sourced locally. All meals will be provided. We can share cooking/cleaning up duties. We strive to operate a no-waste kitchen. We regularly bake our own bread and usually have a good supply of homemade kombucha.
WATER: We have very good drinking water from a nearby spring. Hot water from a thermal solar heater. Washing machine available, sun-dry.
NATURAL LIVING: We avoid using non-biodegradable products, as all our wastewater eventually makes its way into the garden.
WASTE: We try to compost all our waste (including our humanure thanks to our compost toilet), with little recycling and almost zero landfill waste.
PETS: We have 2 cats and a dog (sometimes 2), who roam about the yard and garden. We unfortunately cannot accommodate for any other pets.
INTERNET: It is fast throughout the main house and balcony.
Sorry, no smokers please.
ALAGONIA is located in the Taygetos mountain range, along with several other villages, including Piges, Artemisia, and Machala. They are within walking distance, and are beautifully scenic routes, whether by paved road or trail (monopati). There are also some longer marked trails that run through the area, including one that makes its way all the way to Kalamata (about 6 hours). In the village, there are a couple of cafes, and two taverns. We also have a full-size fenced football (soccer) and basketball court. There are usually cultural events that happen even within the village, usually in the summer.
On your time away from the homestead, you may choose to go to KALAMATA city. The beach, port, boardwalk, park, and center are all located within a 15-minute walking radius. Our bicycles might be available to you to use. Kalamata has plenty of cafes, taverns, museums, and many cultural events.
There is a bus that runs between the village and Kalamata once per week (Wednesday). It is possible to hitch (or find) a ride into the city. We tend to drive down once every one or two weeks, so you would be welcome to join us. Cycling down to Kalamata is another option (1 hour down, 2.5 hours up for experienced cyclists).
If you are interested in studying the GREEK language, there is a local teacher who offers tutoring sessions.
We have an extensive BOOK collection on many topics, including many books on Natural living, Permaculture and vegan cooking.
***OFFSITE PAID WORK: Opportunities may arise for paid local work if you are interested, such as: cleaning fields, collecting wood, harvesting crops, etc...
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 25 hours a week