We respectfully ask that you please read through to avoid any misunderstandings.
We have pigs.
We have dogs.
We have chickens.
We have donkeys.
And last but not least we have a farm cat. (He adopted us).
If any of these cause you any discomfort please be advised that their care is within the scope of work we ask you to undertake.
We also respectfully advise that we work using traditional methods and that the work is physical. If this hasn't put you off then hello and thank you for looking us over!
Hi. Hubby and I are an English couple who live with our 2 dogs, two donkeys, a couple of chickens and three pigs, Skinny, Fattpig and General George in a beautiful rural area of Catalonia surrounded by mountains in an off grid eco friendly house that we built ourselves. Our farm is around 8 acres (40,000 sq metres) growing predominantly Olives (harvested in the wintertime) and Carobs (harvested in the summertime).
At present our garden is a work in progress but it is our aim to grow as much of our own food as possible in the very near future.
Our home lies not far from the River Ebro where giant cat fish swim and wait for you to try your hand at catching them. During March/April you can watch dozens of birds of prey circling our home in an aerial display which will leave you breathless. The Ebro Delta lies 45 minutes from our home where you will see Egrets going about their business, Storks and Herons abound and if you are very lucky you may see a turtle or two climb onto the beach to lay their eggs.
Wild Boar roam the mountainsides as do Wild Goats there is even a few Wild Deer hereabouts and we have been lucky enough to see a couple early one morning. Historical sites surround our home and the beach is but a short drive (45 minutes) so your free time need not be spent on the farm.
Barcelona is but a couple of hours on the train north of here where the fantastic sights, architecture, culture and atmosphere will blow your mind!
And for the big kids in us all Portaventura and Salou are about an hour away.
France is but a short hop, whilst Ferries to Italy can be caught in Barca for those of you who wish to combine your stay with us in with a trip around Europe.
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Dry stone wall repair, as well as new build.
Olive Tree trimming (at the appropriate time of year)
Eco management of the land.
The land on our farm is mainly terraced held back by large dry stone walls all of which date back hundreds of years. They were originally constructed, (or so we have been led to believe), by the Romans and Moors so they really have stood up to the tests of time quite well. However even the sturdiest of walls can succumb to the power of Mother Nature and sometimes she can be quite harsh when she feels so motioned. Because of this some are in need of a bit of TLC. Thankfully we are lucky enough to have the knowledge / ability regards repairing them, skills we will happily share with you if you are willing to learn and of course help us in this work.
Maintainance of the Olive and Carob trees as well as harvesting their crops play a large part of what we do here on our farm. The Carobs are picked late summer whilst the Olives are harvested late Autumn, sometimes up until Christmas. However the maintenance of the land takes place throughout the year, whilst the tree trimming takes place at the start of Winter through until the start of Spring. All of these tasks need to be done no matter what and we would be grateful for as much help as we can get, no matter what time of year it is. So I do hope you will consider coming along to help us.
Whilst we cannot claim to be organic, (simply because our neighbours aren't) we personally do not use chemicals to combat the weeds or indeed pests. Now there is no denying the use of pesticides and herbicides do make farming a whole lot easier and for some it is the only way. However, we are not of this mind. We try to maintain as close a balance with nature as possible whilst still being able to farm. However, because we don't go for the easy option, for some the work is a little too hard so please, if you want to come here to help us all we ask is that your are reasonably fit and willing to get your hands dirty and I am sure you will leave our place armed with a better understanding of what it is to live both off grid and ecologically.
Over the past few months we have been fencing in a part of our land so that we can raise our own sheep and more pigs. To this end we have been harvesting wood from the forests as and when it has been possible. Fact is this is not a project we expect to be finished very soon, instead we consider this to be an ongoing project as we try to benefit the forest not destroy it when we cut down a tree. I like to use the locals addage of, 'little by little' or if you prefer 'one tree at a time'. After all, 'Rome was not built in a day' and neither will the fencing around my sheep and pig paddocks. LOL! We now have two pig paddocks built one holds our resident Boar General George whilst the other holds the girls whose number varies depending on whether or not George has been up to his lethario tricks, lol. As I have said our plans still include more pens both for our piggy girls and of course for our hoped for sheep, as well as a stone shelter for them. It is a slow process but we are getting there.
With the kind assistance of previous volunteers we have been able to build a new chicken hut, made from wood and concrete block as well as an Earthbag shelter for our donkeys and just recently one made out of stone. We've also tried our hand at Gabion or Bastion walls which has proven most interesting. Most if not all of our projects were made from recycled or up-cycled materials which is about as eco friendly as you can get which is our ethos to a tee.
Using as much of what nature provides is one of our aims, so with this in mind we often make screens out of bamboo or other naturally sourced materials to put along the fencing line to provide shelter for our animals etc. Again this is a skill we are more than happy to share and pass on. So if you think this is something you would like to try your hand at and we are able to source the materials (appropriate time of year to cut the bamboo etc) then we are more than willing to show you how it is done.
Add to this, if you want to learn how to cook a few Spanish/Catalan/English in fact a whole bunch of dishes from around the world then this is something we can teach you as well.
We try to live by the ethos of. 'if all we leave behind us are our footprints as we pass through this life then we have lived well'. To this end we try to farm our land using eco methods. Part of this means we use the more traditional farming techniques our grandfathers would have used. In place of machines we use the humble Azada, long handled saw, machete and axe to name but a few of the tools. And last but not least we carry or wheel things around in a wheelbarrow rather than rely on vehicles. So if you are expecting to be able to whiz around on tractors then this is not the place for you. Especially seeing as our land is terraced and you wouldn't be able to get a tractor onto them no matter how hard you tried. This is one of the reasons we added our two donkeys to our family, whom we hoped to train to carry packs and to pull a cart. Oh how silly we were, neither of "the boys" as I call them are interested in that however, they do love attention. So if you are interested in donkey cuddles then this is the place to come.
One thing we do want to say is this... whilst we try to be as truthful to our chosen way of farming as possible there are occasions when we do use modern machinery. Often because of time / weather constraints we have to get X amount of work done before the crops need bringing in or spoil. This is when we have been known to stray a little from the path and dig out our Strimmers, (Weed cutters) and Chainsaws as well as olive pickers, but this honestly is as modern as we get on our farm so hopefully you will forgive us our little slips every now and again and still consider coming to help us. All we ask of you is that you come here and are willing to help us in whatever it is we need doing and in return we will try and show you how you can achieve a different kind of life in a world caught up in consumerism, selfishness (with regards to the earth and her resources) and the pressure to conform to what others perceive to be the norm.
English, limited Spanish.
We live in a 4 bedroom off grid house, with a couple of spare rooms. One has a double bed and the other has 2 single beds in it so we can accommodate either a couple or 2 friends travelling together. However, for those of you who want to sleep outdoors we can also offer you the chance to pitch your own tent or borrow ours in which to enjoy the delights of our beautiful star studded Catalonia nights.
For your comfort (and ours) we have indoor shower and clothes washing facilities as well as internet. However we do conserve power and water wherever possible. To this end we use candles and rechargeable appliances at night. So we are sorry but we need warn you there is no using hairdryers, curling, straightening tongs or having/leaving on every light blazing in the house. We make a genuine effort to also conserve water wherever possible. To this end we don't leave taps running as we brush our teeth (did you know you use between 3 and 5 litres of water doing that?). We also only shower mid day (when the sun can replenish our solar batteries with ease). And ask our volunteers to limit their time in the shower, we aim for 3 minutes (trust us, you can get clean in that time). This is because the average shower of around 5 minutes uses up 50 plus litres of water, whereas we aim for around 30 litres. Not to mention letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 22 hours. That when you live off grid in as eco manner as possible is a great waste of resources. Trust us once you understand why and how important it is not just to our way of life but to conservation and the environment you will realise such measures aren't too difficult to adopt and probably continue to live by. But enough about this, let me tell you a little more about our home. A few years ago we built a covered terrace (with fly screen) on which you can sit and listen to the crickets chirping away or when it is the season for them Nightingales singing as you wind down in the evenings. We also have a roof terrace on which you can sit to watch the stars (because of low light pollution you can see on a clear night the smudge of the milky way high above your head). And oh my, the sunsets here have been known to leave folk breathless with their beauty.
We have animals, at present we have dogs who live with us in the house. We have chickens, pigs and donkeys (who don't lol!) but who are as big a part of our family as our human members. It is our dream to add to our family welcoming sheep to the fold as soon as we are able.
Meals are shared with us and whilst we are not vegetarians we can accomodate you if you are. We just ask you accept that we do eat meat. Though we often eat vegetarian too.
We offer Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and provide meals over the weekend.
We do not allow smoking in the house, but you can smoke on the terrace outside which is fly free (as I've already said) . So we think you will be very comfortable indeed.
Our sun terrace (on the roof) has some pretty awesome views which we hope you will enjoy as much as we do.
We have internet access, wifi, pool (summertime), a few English speaking channels on the TV not that we watch it that much and as I have said clothes washing facilities.
We do ask that all our volunteers have a reasonable grasp of the English language. Both listening and speaking. As working trying to use Google translate hasn't worked for us so far so please if you can't speak English then pass us by. Sorry for this but it really is for the best.
For those winter nights we have a log burner and central heating so you really will be as snug as a bug in our home and screens on the windows so you can have them open at night to help cool you during the summer.
One last thing, whilst we are not isolated in the least, we are rural. The nearest village is 2km away, where there are bars, even a restaurant along with a couple of convenience shops. However, it is somewhat sleepy so bear this in mind. The nearest City (although we refer to it as being a town) is 20km where there is a little more going on. Though it is by no means as cosmopolitan as Barcelona or Valencia, (for such you would have to travel which is not hard at all, thanks to a very good system of rail and bus links) it is quite a nice place to visit. We will happily drop you off /pick you up from/at the bus / train stations if you wish to spend your days off someplace else than our farm. Or you could just kick back, read a good book, or just relax and commune with nature. The choice is yours.
Oh and we have a couple of bikes you can borrow.
Reus airport 50 minutes (by road)
Barcelona airport 2 and a half hours. (by train)
Tortosa train/bus station direct access from/to Barcelona, Valencia/south of Spain.
Pick up available from Tortosa train/bus station.
There are 3 airports listed as being Barcelona on the internet.
The first is Barcelona El Prat. Where it is quite easy to get to us by train/bus as the airport train/bus service takes you straight into Barcelona Sants train station from where you catch a train to Tortosa or if you prefer to take a bus (bus station not too far from the train station). There is even a bus service which runs from Tortosa to the airport and back so getting here really isn't a problem from Barcelona itself and vice versa.
The next is Reus (Barcelona). Despite the mention of Barcelona in its title it is some distance from the city itself, roughly 1 and a half hours journey time. You will need to catch a bus into Salou or Reus (not a problem as they run pretty regularly) and from there either a train (easiest option) or a bus.
The third is Girona (Barcelona) this is about 2 hours driving time north of Barcelona and is a royal pain to get to/from. You will need catch a bus from the airport into Girona and either catch a train or bus to Barcelona, then a bus or train from Barcelona to Tortosa and vice versa.
We tell you this not to put you off coming to us, but so that you have as much information as possible for when you book your flights. Often flights to and from Girona as very, very cheap because of its position. (it really is no where near Barcelona).
We are sorry but we cannot accept anyone with dogs / pets due to our having dogs who like their own space and aren't good at sharing.
Hope you understand.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Up to 5 hours a day, five days over 7.
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