Help develop a food forest on our magnificent land in the Serra da Estrela mountains, Guarda, Portugal

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Portugal

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    05/08/2020

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  • Description

    Description

    We are a retired couple with some animal companions who have recently moved from an urban situation in the UK to a 10 ha rustic property in the mountains of Central Portugal. Here we have come to retreat from the consumerist lifestyle we were experiencing all around us in the UK, where we were living and working before. Our vision is to pursue a more sustainable and self sufficient way of life, while sharing the experience also with like-minded others.

    We currently have a small team of builders helping us restore the farm house, while we ourselves have been busy clearing the land 50m around the house of brambles and dead wood (a legal requirement of rural property owners in Portugal due to the fire risk). Having been here nearly a year, we are now looking for some animal- and nature-loving human companions to share our vision and help with fairly substantial tasks to get things on track.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Gardening
    Building
    General Maintenance
    Farmstay
    Help with Eco project
    Animal care

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Since arriving, with our three dogs and cat last September, our family has grown to include a rather fat goat, three hens and a rooster. Everyone gets along extremely well; no species barriers or hang ups although the goat and chickens mostly choose to hang out together (free ranging).

    We have no prior experience with permaculture, regenerative agriculture or food forest design (these practices are our aims) we are simply here, and trying to do stuff. We really like the idea of others joining us in working out how to do things, and are curious about the possibilities this might afford. Different people will bring totally different ideas to the place. We are reading broadly, and are in contact online with more experienced others and your being with us would mean accompanying us on our learning journey and in some ways shaping what this place becomes.

  • Help

    Help

    Our aim is to create a beautiful edible garden that blends in with our surroundings and is capable of supporting human and non-human species. We are attempting to employ no-dig principles of regenerative agriculture. We are complete novices at this, however, so we are learning as we go along any advice from more experienced others would be gratefully accepted! If you have ideas about permaculture, or food forests we could really use your help in planning things. Right now, we urgently need help with manual tasks, like further clearing (especially alongside the river, which has not yet been done), some forest work, making a system of ponds along an existing water course (by enlarging existing ponds and digging new ones where the water has gone underground) and helping with small construction work, including the building of an outdoor bathroom and composting toilet and erecting fencing to keep the goat off the veggies. There is additionally a fair amount of reorganizing to do, as we try to make the interior of the house suitably habitable, by moving some heavy equipment in the workshop, currently upstairs, to the barn.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation

    The accommodation we offer is in the form of a roomy horsebox lorry (1973 Bedford TK), converted into a campervan and situated in a secluded glade of oak and cherry trees about 200m from the house. That means you can get plenty of p&q on your own if you want. The horsebox sleeps 3, has a double bed and a large sleeping sofa, and is equipped with a small kitchen with gas cooker but no fridge. In addition, there are lovely areas adjacent to the horsebox (and just about everywhere else in the farm) to pitch a tent if you prefer to do that. Currently THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY in the horsebox (solar still to be installed down there) and internet access is only via a mobile phone hotspot in the farmhouse. The phone signal at the farm house is 4G but a little erratic. There is piped water available at the horsebox, but currently NO BATHROOM, OR SHOWER (building such facilities for the horsebox is one of our planned task). The horsebox ramp doubles as an outdoor deck, that catches the morning sun. We provide vegetarian meals, but you are of course welcome to make your own meals in the horsebox (gas provided by us) as we don’t insist on you keeping us company! If you want to provide your own food we can collect groceries for you (or you can accompany us) on our weekly supply trip to the small town Belmonte, which is 20 mins away by car. We have not yet begun to produce our own food, and are living on a shoestring budget, so the food we provide will be healthy but somewhat basic and plain. Due to the steepness of the land, we have very limited parking facilities, so if you have a car, you would need to park it at the top of the 200m long driveway. If you bring your own tent, there are abundant gorgeous places to pitch it.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We primarily offer a peaceful place for people to come and do something a bit different than normal. The place is pretty isolated, so you’d have to like the peace and quiet of a fairly solitary (except for us) existence while here. The area we live in is picturesque, with broadleaf forest, some open spaces, massive boulders, mountain streams and pools and an abundance of granite ruins. Visible from the house is an array of giant wind turbines which have a beauty and elegance all of their own. There is a river beach fairly close by, (on the Zezere river in the town of Valhelhas) which is dog friendly and also has a restaurant and bar. It’s about 15 mins away by car. Our tiny village, Famalicão, is half an hour away walking (it has a small grocery shop, 3 bars, 2 bakeries and a pharmacy), and the historic and beautiful city of Guarda is 20 mins away by car (an alternative to going to the town of Belmonte, where we normally get our groceries). From Guarda there are bus and rail routes to anywhere else in Portugal.

    We are more than happy to collect you from the train station in Guarda when you arrive.

  • 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?

    Two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Flexible.. about 20 hours a week

View of the farmhouse
Interior of the Bedford horsebox
Ruscha the goat
View of wind turbines on horizon
Playing with the dogs in the field of the neighbouring farm.
Clearing out the first pond we found on the land.
Taking a break from intensive bramble clearing on one of the upper terraces.
Removing a partition wall in the old farm house.
Ruscha the goat doing some clearing on the lower terrace
Guest accommodation: Bedford TK horsebox/camper-van
View from the farm house on a misty morning
Hosts: Peat and Debs

Host ref number: 911142524329