Come Help build a Barn (or 2) at Woodland restoration project in Totnes, England


United Kingdom


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 Min stay requested: at least 3 weeks

  • Description


    Barn Building & Woodland work.
    Hands on Journey into timber-framing and woodland skills. Learn from the bottom up - groundworks, timber selection, preparation, milling, timber-framing (marking up / joining), strawbale / insulation, roofing & more. Some experience / enthusiasm for wood-craft is necessary.

    This is 46 acres of ancient woodland and organic pasture on Dartmoor National Park, South Devon. We like to engage the community in caring for the land and host occasional events and activities.

    This is a unique opportunity to join the team (ideally for longer than 1 month) to be part of an amazing timber-framing barn raising journey.

    This is a magical place on the southern edge of Dartmoor. Ecologically diverse, beautiful, and close to South Brent & Totnes. On site is a small off-grid workshop (with tools), a willow osier and produce for weaving willow, a sauna, lakes, and plenty of land to connect with.

    The host family (me, my wife, 2 young boys & a newborn baby girl) live a few miles away in a house, whilst volunteers stay out on the land in caravans (or tents when a big team) who look after the place day-to-day.

    Volunteers need to be responsible and willing to undertake agreed tasks safely and sensibly without supervision. We have a morning meeting each week to get things started where your input is highly valued.

    This is an off-grid set-up so you will need to be happy living in a simple way using solar power & spring water. It's not for the faint hearted and very close to nature.

    I provide food which together the team cooks in the kitchen - you let me know what you need for the weekly shop. This will be a mix of organic and non organic things.
    This spring / summer we will be building the 3rd barn - a big timber-framed straw bale insulated machinery store.

    We will be using the sawmill to make beams & planks, carefully framing the trusses together, splitting and stacking firewood, and undertaking occasional other projects. Every day we need to care for the chickens and ducks, and care for the little veg patch in the sun-garden.

    Depending how long you stay you will probably experience everything it takes to fell and extract a tree, and help throughout the process. It is demanding and you will need to be fairly fit, enthusiastic and responsible. If you can drive or use a chainsaw this is very helpful (you need a valid licence to be insured). Interest in eco-building and woodwork is very important during this time of barn-building.

    There are two lakes, a river, and beautiful organic pasture. Wood-fired sauna next to the lake, and a temporary wood-workshop where you can take on some creative projects using the pole-lathes etc.

    Look forward to hearing from you.
    All the best

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Help with Eco project
    Animal care

  • 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

    This is up to you - some visitors get out and about and meet people - others get more from the woodland experience and immersion in nature.
    You will learn a lot from nature whilst working and living in the woods and be part of a close living / working team. You will be sent our welcome pack and agreements which give your more details on how we live and work together.
    Totnes is a cultural hub of the Transition movement - there is a LOT going on there, also lots of events in South Brent, Buckfastleigh and Ashburton. If you are happy to hitch or jump on a bus then you will find lots of 'culture' just on the doorstep.

  • Help


    Woodland help in ancient woodland... caring for chickens & all sorts of other tasks, varied and engaging including helping to mill timber on the sawmill, prepare firewood, and general land-management as well as a bit of veg growing for our own use.

    BARN BUILDING through Into 2020. If you have experience with tool use / carpentry then this will be very useful. If not then you need to be very keen to learn this and be involved in green build.

    Ideal for hard-working people with a love for the land and special places. It's extra-helpful if you have a driving licence and experience with practical work. The most important things is common sense and enthusiasm.

    We've been hosting volunteers for over 8 years through workaway and other hosting platforms. We try to have 2 or 3 volunteers at a time although 2019 / 2020 we aim to host a bigger volunteer camp for people helping in the build process.

    You will be staying out on the land and cooking yourself (together with the team) so need to be self-reliant, responsible and have good common sense.

    Volunteering works out at about 4 days a week - unless you want to contribute more which during the barn-build we are likely to be wanting to do.

    We host volunteer weekends once a month... & occasional events like our easter egg hunt or friends weekend.

    Close to Dartmoor, the sea, and Totnes in South Devon - our woodland is a 35minute walk from the nearest town. We lie on cycle path number 2 & there's a bus to Plymouth / Totnes called Stagecoach Gold.

    Accommodation is in one of 2 caravans or a tent. There is 3g / 4g phone signal so you can get fast internet access through tethering with your phone.

    Volunteers wanted for Barn building. HELP NOW!

    Clearing timber from hillside, carpentry work, and timber production using mobile sawmill (Woodmizer LT15 & firewood processor).
    & LOTS of barn-building activity to be carried out.

    Get in touch if you want to get involved and help out in the woods.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    english, some french, some spanish

  • Accommodation


    2x Caravans with a wood burning stove. Shared cooking space in our newly built barn.
    Washing is a solar shower when the sun shines or better still the wood-fired sauna and a dip in the spring-fed lake. Whatever you fancy.
    Closest laundry is in town, or you can ask us to bring clothes home to wash. We are always willing to help & are friendly :)

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    The woods are a powerful place to stay, and although close to 2 small towns, cycle path & bus route, you get the feeling of being deeply immersed in nature.

    There is a greenwood workshop and an abundance of timber to create things from so you could polish up on some carving or making skills. Also loads of rusty tools to handle, sharpen etc etc. There is no shortage of things to do in your spare time, swimming, wandering, stalking, hunting, exploring Dartmoor, a nearby climbing wall, the sea... however if you don't like your own company and working as part of a team, then the woods probably are not the place for you.

    You need to be responsible and keen to live simply in an outdoor off-grid setting.

    A 35 minute walk to the nearest small town with 2 pubs and occasional music nights etc. and well connected on cycle paths. 20 minute walk to bus stop which connects well with Transition Town Totnes a vibrant market town and Plymouth city.

    If a keen cyclist you can get to the sea, or much easier up onto the Moor. However be warned, the hills in Devon are steep!

    A car does help with getting out and about but most visitors cycle.

    Sometimes we organise trips out with the host family or organize a gathering of friends on the land.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Shared lunch at volunteer day outside the crew tent

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Host ref number: 912659156591