6th February – 8th April 2018
Permaculture in Portugal. -We are introducing a NEW VOLUNTEER PROGRAM for 2018, which we are calling ‘Permaculture experience Programme’, or PEP for short. Our aim with receiving volunteers is to be fair, transparent about the types of help required, what we have to offer and what we aim to teach/share. The program is based on several years of experience in receiving volunteers, hosting courses, running workshops, themed open days/networking events, organic markets, and silent retreats. Our daily life living in an evolving permaculture project gives us the experience to teach the things we know!
What we know for certain from these years of people care, is that being a volunteer in such a community environment can be a life-changing experience!
What is it?
We are offering a 6 week intensive program, run by the small community of the Mount of Oaks permaculture farm (since 2006).
The minimum length of stay is 4 weeks, maximum of 6 weeks, with an option to join a second block. To apply fill in the application form and liability form and email them back to us. Each block will have general and more specific focuses. It will be important to choose the focus that relates to your personal interests, or what you most what to learn about. You will see that there are activities that repeat in each of the blocks as these are core elements of our project.
How many participants
This program is limited to 6 participants to allow for quality exchanges. Each participant will join our community rhythm, which varies from season to season. The requirement is to be available for the 6 hours of community activities during the 5 working days of the week. With two days off to explore the area, visit other projects, or simply rest.
We are based here in the foothills of the beautiful Gardunha mountain range at about 350m above sea level. About 40km from the highest mountain range in Portugal – Serra da Estrela with a max height of 2,000m.
- As for water, something that is often a question here in Portugal, we are really blessed with two drinking water springs and a huge pond/small lake at the top of the land – which collects rain and also has a spring.
- As for trees… here we go with a sort of inventory of our trees…..the land has about 65 olive trees – we are really lucky as these are a very old variety which produces amazing olive oil – organic!!! We have lots of citrus fruits, including oranges; different qualities of tangerines and mandarins and lemon. We have figs; apricot; pears (old variety); nêspera; plums; mimosa (which in a controlled way we have been using as productively as possible – for firewood, building, and fencing); as our name suggests we also have LOTS of oaks and cork oaks; ash; willow – Salgueiro; we have a few pines and a few eucalypti and are intending to graft the wild grapes we have found growing all over the place.
We planted in the last years some new cherry trees, medronho (strawberry tree), apple, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, birch, feijoa, nashi pear, lime, walnut, elderflower, weeping willow, planes. Finally, we also have several large cherry trees – again of an old variety, both sweet and sour. This region, near Fundao is known throughout Portugal as the premier area for growing cherries – there is an annual cherry festival here in May time.
As for building, when we arrived there was only an old small ruin – where the cows lived – this is currently the common kitchen space. The land has permission for more buildings, and this is a real bonus. We constructed a super-duper compost toilet which also acts as a library. Other structures include a common shelter where workshops take place – this has a broom roof! We have a bathhouse with a solar shower and a fire bath. Our donkey has a house – which is also our recycling center! There is a guestroom made from wood, a tool shed and finally, we have a strawbale pantry house. This building was constructed during a workshop lead by Lesley Martin. In all our building we seek to use local material – mostly what we can find on the land, and as we don’t have much money we also have to pace ourselves and wait for the opportune time to start.
We are lucky in that we have had help coming from other places when we most need it!
We have a caravan for guests and a bus where we (Barbara and Emma) live.
As for projects, we have many and we try to take it day by day – setting our priorities by the season and the design we have for the place. Our gardens are based on designs incorporating companion planting, intercropping, and stacking – heavy on the mulch throughout the year. We started an experimental forest garden in 2012 which we are observing and improving. In the near future we have plans to renovate the current common kitchen space and add a second floor for better guest accommodation – with a downstairs space to run workshops in the winter. Soon we will have chickens that will live in the mobile house so we can move them around to help prepare the soil before planting seeds.
Here at the Mount of Oaks, we have successfully held 5 PDC’s and look forward to hosting more every year.
Please get in touch if you would like more information (see contact details below) – about the project or about a PDC.
Our land is about 5 hectares of terraces. Before we came here the land had been abandoned for many years – so we were really lucky that there were no signs of chemical use and the soil was in good shape! We have different soil quality in different parts of the land – this is useful for our different needs. Good soil for the garden; more loamy soil in the terraces below which have lots of water; and a good mix of clay for building – we used it for plastering our strawbale house! A main priority for us is to build the soil quality by mulching the gardens and around trees – we have a donkey who poops a lot – we use his waste as a valuable commodity, and we are about to try the hugelkulture raised beds – we are super excited about this!
All the info you need to participate at the Permaculture Experience Programme 2018:
Information for the volunteer program 2018 in a Portugal Permaculture Community:
Read more volunteering opportunities in Portugal