Andrea on July 30th, 2014

Last night there should have been 5 baby guinea pigs in the hutch when I went to lock up. But there were only 4.

After emptying the hutch completely then meticulously sifting through the deep litter on the floor by hand, I eventually concluded that it had fallen out and been nabbed by a hungry chicken.

So this morning, there were 5 babies again. Uh?



thehive on July 29th, 2014
The gardens are looking great and we are inundated with courgettes this week. It’s hard to feel disappointed when the sun is shining so brightly, but the lack of response from our new crowdfunding application is a bit disheartening. We realise we missed a couple of opportunities because of techy reasons, missing links and so on, and feel that we have learned a lot about how NOT to do things .

It’s not too late to save our application! There are a few days to go, so now is the right time to help. For those who can support our campaign, please do so before midnight on 2nd August. It’s a very worthwhile cause, and since the cooperative papers have been signed already, time is ticking on getting it registered. All involved are raring to go: this is the final hurdle, so we are very keen to see it happen.

With the beekeeping workshop, we have already seen how beneficial Rossaio can be to the local community. We have tons of ideas of projects we can run under the banner of the cooperative and are itching to get going.

Time is running out to be a part of this, but if it’s not been possible for you to support us in the past and you feel you’d like to help, there are still a few days left. We want to make the cooperative live as soon as possible. Your money will definitely help us to achieve far more than we have already, so please give the most you can. Help to show the strength of our support network and encourage more donations! And don’t forget to share the link with likeminded nature lovers.
Denis Hickel on July 27th, 2014

Aconteceu no dia 26 de Julho na Escola primária de Alcorochel, mas é uma atividade aberta e em andamento. Se tiver interesse no tema entre em contacto com a Quinta do Alecrim.


Cultivar uma cultura de alimentação local e agroecológica na região de Torres Novas, Alcanena e Abrantes

Nossa região tem condições fantásticas para o cultivo de alimentos, contudo a maioria dos produtos que podemos adquirir vêm de fora. Ao mesmo tempo, muitas pessoas com capacidade e vontade de cultivar encontram-se no desemprego. E cada vez mais terrenos encontram-se em estado de abandono. O que podemos mudar nas nossas escolhas e cultura alimentar para deixar florescer os nossos recursos locais e reforçar a teia social e económica?

Dia 26 de Julho, Sábado, vamos apresentar o Cesto Cheio, uma iniciativa recente que tem como objectivo criar laços estáveis e de longa duração entre produtores locais e consumidores. Este projecto iniciou-se em 2012 na Roménia, onde está a transformar a qualidade de vida das pessoas envolvidas e recentemente foi lançado também em Coimbra. Convidámos dois dos iniciadores, o Ronen Hirsch (Roménia) e a Annelieke van der Sluijs (Coimbra), para falar sobre as suas experiências, resultando num debate sobre como desenvolver a teia alimentar local.

Andrea on July 24th, 2014

I’ve been searching for the perfect Billy goat to join our little goat herd for some months now. My requirements were that he should be horned, and that he be large.

Let me introduce you to Bambi, on the right. OK, maybe he’s not very large yet, but he’s only three months old at the moment (Misty, on the left, is 7 months) and judging by the size of his forelegs and chest already I think he’ll be growing out of that name pretty soon.

Can you help rename him?






thehive on July 22nd, 2014
What a week! Yesterday we got together to sign the final papers for the Hive Rossaio Cooperative of Cultural Activities. It feels good to have finally reached this point. And on Sunday we held our first ever beekeeping workshop, hosted by Kevin. The day was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all ten participants.

The following is an account written by Laura.

“I had a great day on Sunday. Kevin is a brilliant teacher, and his deep knowledge of and love for bees shines through as he speaks. We began by learning the basics of the colony, how these social insects interact with one another and different parts of the beehive. But the highlight of the day was donning our suits and heading for the hives themselves. The honey season is nearing its end, and we were lucky enough to see full frames of honey, ready for extraction in just a few weeks time. We spotted the queen in one hive, as well as several drones, which we had already learned how to identify. After a delicious shared lunch, we watched a documentary and Kevin answered the many questions we had. I came away feeling a little bit closer to the bees, and very inspired to get my own hives.”

This workshop was made possible by the generous contributions made during our last Bee Happy crowdfunding application, and we are already planning the next one. It will have to be timed wisely, as the season is nearly over, but hopefully the next group will get the chance to watch the honey being extracted. Anyone interested in participating should get in touch: It’s free!

Bees are beautiful, and their very being makes people want to give. But it’s going to be the cooperative legal framework that turns all of our hopes and dreams into reality. So our current crowdfunding focus is to raise money to go towards registration, legal and running fees of the cooperative. Time is running out to be a part of this, but if it’s not been possible for you to support us in the past and you feel you’d like to help, there are still 12 days left. We want to make the cooperative live as soon as possible. Your money will definitely help us to achieve far more than we have already, so please give the most you can...even minimum donations (£10) show the strength of our support network and encourage more donations. And don’t forget to share the link with likeminded nature lovers. Don’t underestimate your own power!

thehive on July 15th, 2014

The Hive has had bit of a break for the past month or so, while Ray went back to the UK to work at Glastonbury festival with the Greenpeace crew.
But there have been several wonderful house sitters here and the place is looking amazing. Giant courgettes, beans-a-plenty and juicy strawberries are all ready for harvesting and there are hundreds of green tomatoes about to turn.
We are happy to announce that the documentation for the cooperative is all ready to be signed. This is a great leap forward and a very exciting one. But in order for this to happen, we need some financial help with the legal fees. Check out our new crowdfunding application.
One of the friends that stayed here last month seemed to know telepathically what the most important building job was, and got on with it of his own accord. There is now a brand new lintel over the door of one of the most crumbling of ruins, and that’s served to kick-start us into the next venture: that of repairing the ruin.
Which brings us back to the Greenpeace crew. We are putting together a budget to cover the cost of the renovation and with a little bit of help from our ever-gracious investors, we are hoping to lure this highly skilled and motivated group of people over to help. Some help has already been offered, but we can always do with more.
And that’s where you, dear reader, come in. Can you help? We are looking for help with the funds, which are estimated at £10,000. To make this money, we are on the lookout for new investors or people to fundraise on our behalf. So, if you or anyone you know has the relevant skills, please get in touch, or share this page with friends and family.

Fernanda on July 6th, 2014

Este artigo foi escrito pela Fernanda que esteve aqui conosco em Junio e relata a sua esperiência na Tribodar.

magnus wolfe murray on July 4th, 2014

First off, I just can’t believe your’re not with us right now.  I am so used to being in touch pretty much all the time.

With crushing reluctance I’ve come to accept that one of my closest friends, mentors, ideas generator, building mate, fellow life adventurer has left us, for higher realms. We found out last week, middle of the night in our home in Islamabad, when our son Nikita called with the news.  We were all just stunned and speechless. It hardly seems possible, for someone who was so completely infused with boundless energy and ideas, as if they burst through his pores, his eyes …isn't just around the corner.

Completely gutted in every way.  Yet at the same time empowered by his life. 

And now by Ruth his incredible wife and equally inspiring partner.  Ruth somehow maintained  clarity and a capacity to share Paulo’s struggles to overcome a serious bout of malaria which kick-started a spiral of organ and system failure across his exhausted body; at 17 Paulo survived leukaemia but knew how his organs had taken a serious hammering, leaving him vulnerable, yet somehow with this octane-fuelled clarity of vision and direction.  Every few days Ruth would facebook updates in English and Portuguese (Brasileira, como ela), to muster us all into action to send positive images of a healing Paulo.  Hundreds of us would like and comment and share our love and hope and support.  Paulo had a LOT of friends, had reached a lot of people..

This is it.. Paulo has had a vision for this planet, a “design strategy” as he might say, to re-think the way humans live in the environment around them.  To transform the energy we put into destroying our ecology to repairing it.  A system of design that would increase people’s access to food through smarter use of their waste, cutting inefficiencies (that he saw everywhere, as if he had some eco-super-power to x-ray scan across communities and spot the numptified designs that have appeared around us).

struggling together with this 400kg oak beam...
He’s the only person I’ve ever met that could see the common thread between everything people do, from growing food, harnessing energy, dealing with waste, building homes, teaching children.  He had learned about permaculture way back, then he studied renewable energy, sustainable building and large scale water retention and management strategies.  He knew so bloody much stuff, and had this spider’s web of linkages going on constantly that connected strategies and designs from one part way over to the other.  For a while he became obsessed by mushrooms and fungi (well he was obsessed about everything..) and would insist you sit down for a two hour session watching some guy delivering a presentation on the stuff, then sit and watch you and say “so, you get it now, right?” then he’d explain how the waste coming off ethanol production could be excellent feedstock for fungi which in turn would provide goodies for fish, which would clean dirty water and provide irrigation for new plants for more ethanol, and on and on. 

This is Paulo's last presentation he sent me.  We'd been in constant touch about ways to deal with the disaster that human waste has become, but why it needn't be so. 

With Saffy, his sister Mary, and friends
We started chatting about all this in the green of Wales back in 2006, when we met, soon after we moved into small plot of land in Portugal completely covered in 30 years of brambles and spikey things, hiding old terraces, ruins and a massive renovation project.  Paolo liked this idea and offered to dive in with us.  And so he did.  Over the next couple of years we grafted away together tackling just about every concept and project that you can imagine, all the while Paulo chattering away an almost non-stop narrative of sustainability and compost, worms, gardens and water, mushrooms and underground life forms we know-so-little-about,  smoothies and aaargh!   I never went on a permaculture design course (2 weeks) because I think back on this time as a two year doctorate!

We grew together.  Our children Nikita and Kira must have been 13 and 7.  They absorbed too – and won’t forget. 
Under Paulo's spell Kira dives in to the
lime plastering too:)
How many times Nikita, Paulo and I would be the only ones around holding up some half-framed structure, Paolo rapidly slipping into a mood that emerges from having to work with such turkeys who take-so-long to get it.  Well Nikita got it pretty quick, I’m still in turkeysville but that’s another story).

With Nikita, bringing up this massive pre-fabricated structure that was to become the terrace for the Alambique

He would disappear for weeks on various missions.  To Croatia with Ruth to desing some mega straw-bale warehouse for his new umbrella company LUSH. Or to obscure communities of German inventors in Southern Portugal, come back bouncing with excitement about their new creations that turned sun rays into ice (the hotter it is outside the cooler the fridge).  I’m pretty much obsessed by anything low-tech and radical too, so we’d be there for hours plotting how we’d incorporate these into the aid world, into communities devoid of power and jobs, and how sun & ice could change the picture completely.  Especially if we included biogas, rainwater collection, constructed wetlands, and so on.  Integrated smart design.  Yes… I’m working on that. This has become my mission too. 

Paulo designed this entire straw bale section on the house, and led the construction with our family and friends.

We went crazy watching the local rivers change through the seasons, and Paolo let slip that kayaking was another of his hobbies (how many can a guy have!!??).  A few months later we had all the gear, and Nikita, Paulo and I would drive our van way up some secluded river and charge down, waterfalls and all.  These were great moments, staring over at each other in a strange mix of terror, exhilaration and what-the-hell let’s just do it screech, as we hurtled towards some new waterfall we hadn't had time check out first. In the pouring rain. (Argggh. where's the photos of these missions!??)

When we moved to Pakistan Paulo and Ruth used England as a pit-stop to the oasis that their Brazil was to become.  It sounded amazing there.  And I could read between the lines of messages and many skypes how he was infecting yet more ordinary mortals with his vision for a better world. 

With our multi-national team of beam-movers from Romania, England, Portugal, New Zealand, Scotland
from left - Nikita, me, Nik, Paulo, Shrek (Carlos), Hewel, Petrus, Ilie and Manuel (Neo). 

In Pakistan I became humanitarian “advisor” to the UK Government’s efforts to support post mega-flood recovery. Subsequent years brought equally intense rain and destruction.  Almost four years on I’m still there, supporting one of the largest shelter reconstruction projects ever – at over 120,000 homes and counting.
One of hundreds of amazing families i worked with in
Pakistan, discussing building with lime, how I'd learned
from Paulo and Hywel in Portugal. 
Almost everything I learned from Paulo I imparted here: the value of lime, appropriate shading and slaking of the stuff (this is a huge deal for the uninitiated – and has enabled people to build fully flood resistant homes for less than £300 each, meaning we reached 70% more families or saved about £50m compared to the conventional way of building houses).  I found myself stomping around lecturing anyone in hearing distance of the magic like qualities of this ancient material, as if I had become an ambassador for Paulo’s forest empire.  Yes, Paulo, your legacy is marching on, I carry it proudly every day and as the fates would have it I found myself advising one of the largest and most progressive donors in the world, who are really supportive of our work – and enabled your vision to go really far.

We return to Portugal tomorrow, where you appear in just about every picture, in every part of the building and gardening process.  You are as much part of our land there as we are and as you planted half the trees you will grow on with us there.  Quite fitting really, as Paulo was many parts elfen creature and part-man.  He seemed more at home in a mossy corner between rocks or high in the canopy of some tree.  A quiver full of carved arrows over his back and slightly pointed ears would have raised no alarm.  I’d find him stuffing fresh cut grass into his blender, together with powder of some coco bean, sun-filtered water and some fruits. I asked him if he had become part-goat; he looked at me from under his eyebrows, frowning, to say “grass and weeds are just phenomenal mineral accumulators, how do you think sheep survive?”.  I’d settle down with my all-too-human scrambled egg and bread, feeling more like an ork beside this ethereal being sipping his plant juice. (Annoyingly, he would then carry a jug of this stuff around for the next half hour, like an IV, sipping, glowing). 

I’m going to feel a bit lost for a while – any time I had a problem or an idea I’d take it to you and you’d send me a drop-box full of vids and docs and links and names and case studies.  I have Gigabytes of the stuff now, guess I’ll have to start reading it…  God-damn that malarial piece of shit bug…

Ruth, I can’t imagine how you’re coping. You are SO many times stronger than me to have held it together so long.  Please come and see us whenever you can – we are here with you as your extended family. 

Go well Paolo, my friend, it’s been a great privilege to fly together a while.  
Wendy on July 1st, 2014

This content comes from A portable rocket stove at Permaculturing in Portugal

A year or so ago I salvaged a couple of tin cans from the local dump. From the moment I laid eyes on them they were shouting “portable rocket stove!”. They’ve sat around waiting for me to find the time and inclination to put them together ever since, but a friend moving onto a nearby quinta with no cooking facilities finally spurred me into action. In my head, I’d already worked out exactly how the stove was to be made, so it took very little time to assemble. In fact, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t even get any ‘before’ photos.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

The stove comprises two identical 1-litre tins (which previously held linseed oil) with tops and bottoms removed, contained in a 5-litre rectangular tin with a top opening which looked (and smelled) like it had been used to store the resin that people collected from the Maritime pines to make turpentine. Whatever it was, it was so ancient and resinous it wasn’t coming off in any hurry so I simply left it.

I cut a circular opening in one side of the 5-litre tin and inserted one of the 1-litre tins into the opening to form the horizontal burn tube. The splayed edges of the circular hole were used to hold the tin in place. Later I fastened them with wire and then covered the lot with aluminium tape.

I filled the base of the 5-litre tin with Leca (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) and then used a fireclay and sand mixture to shape an elbow between the burn tunnel and what would be the vertical heat riser formed by the second 1-litre tin. Using clay/sand for this not only saves messing about cutting metal, but gives some weight to the stove so it’s not easily accidentally knocked over. It will last longer than the metal too.

As I built the elbow, I filled the surrounding area with Leca. Once I’d reached the level for the placement of the second tin, it was all left to dry out completely.

The Leca insulates the combustion area, ensuring the fire burns hot and keeping the outside of the 5-litre tin comparatively cool. (It does still get quite hot, but not hot enough to burn skin or surrounding materials.)

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Once dry, the second tin was put in place, the fireclay and sand mixture used to seal the tunnel, and the space around the heat riser filled with Leca. The area around the neck of the heat riser was filled with more fireclay and sand to seal the unit.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

A piece of zinc sheet was then cut and folded to form a ‘grate’ which simply finds its own level in the burn tunnel and protrudes from it a way to support longer sticks being burned. It finishes midway across the elbow between the burn tunnel and heat riser to allow the air flowing underneath it to reach the fire. As air is drawn in underneath, it’s warmed as it goes, and keeps the fire burning hot. The zinc sheet is easily removed for cleaning or transport.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

A barbecue grill piece completes the stove, allowing combustion gases to escape round the sides of pans.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

The stove lit easily, boiled a pan of water in 5 minutes, and sautéed some potatoes all on a handful of small sticks. It also stank of vaporising turpentine! In time, this will hopefully disappear.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Unfortunately, it took me so long to get around to the second stage of construction, the friend I was making it for had already got herself a camping stove and gas bottle. Still, it’s handy for a cup of tea when the gas runs out …

When: 08/09/2014 — 31/10/2014
Where: Awakened Life Project at Quinta da Mizarela-  Benfeita, Arganil.
Cost: 1500€


Evolutionary Education Embracing Spirit, Ecology, Community & Health



We are pleased that you are interested in learning more about our new educational intensive at the Awakened Life Project. We have developed this intensive as a response to the many people who are interested in joining the Awakened Life Project for a substantial period of time and who want to fully experience all the dimensions of what we have to offer.



So many people these days want to know how to live successfully in community, how to respond authentically and effectively to their personal relationships and the converging crisis in today’s society and how to actualize the inner calling that so many people are experiencing to reach for something higher. We ran this intensive in the Fall of 2012 for the first time and because of its remarkable success we have decided to make this the main focus of our program.