Andrea on March 3rd, 2015



This photo was taken inside our animal shed, looking down through their outside run towards the veg garden. I picked it out to write about individually as I thought it illustrated our composting system in operation so eloquently.

As I’ve written about elsewhere, our composting system starts off in this outside run. All our household and garden compost is combined here with excess animal food, mucky bedding and anything else organic that we can find. The goats and chickens add their own special contributions to it and the chickens mix it up whilst scratching for the worms and insects who come to inhabit the thick layer that builds up.

In this photo we had just finished clearing out the first stage compost. We’d started recovering the area with deciduous leaves, but the rain stopped work. Behind the enclosure you can see the pile of compost we removed. From here it will only travel downhill.

We use a RAM pump to supply the animals’ drinking water, and in the summer months I keep the overflow dampening down this area to encourage decomposition otherwise it just dries out in the summer sun. Next to the fence you can see the remains of the pumpkin and squash plants that had been taking advantage of the nutrients and water that seep out of the run. We made the most of the tender greens and flowers all summer, the mature fruits went into storage for winter use, and the remaining tougher greens were fed to the goats. Nothing wasted!






The post Compost Illustrated appeared first on Casalinho.

magnus wolfe murray on March 2nd, 2015
This is Sabina, who I met during one of about 30 field trips I made in Sindh, Pakistan during my time working there, chatting with Mustafa from the local NGO, HANDS

Mustafa and Sabina.  I think they were talking abotu that solar light she's been using every night for over a year.  And the price of vegetables on the market if I remember rightly.  She said she can afford to buy veg only twice a month and grows none around her house.  She could absolutely grow food in raised beds outside her window.  That has to be (already is) the next addition to the way we work...

HANDS had found Sabina's family and community, displaced and in desperate need of help, after major flooding in September 2012. They brought it to the attention of DFID - the British agency for international development - for whom I was working as a humanitarian advisor.

Getting access to these communities is just invaluable.  It's so important, in fact vital to see if we’re supporting people with the right kind of thing.  I always learn so much from people like Sabina, when we take the time to just chat about things, outside of the scope of the project.  About life, like what kind of food they prepare – or rather how much food she can afford, which isn’t much; how life was like before the floods; what happens at night when there’s no power; the cost and distance from a functioning school or health clinic, stuff like that.  These conversations form the basis for my “advice” to DFID and eventually the design of how we spend humanitarian funds – which is basically tax from people like Sabina over in the UK: taxpayers who struggle to make ends meet. 

Taken by Joon, Norwegian Embassy (with the VIPs that managed to get a seat on the helicopter to view the extent of damage by air). Helps to understand how it was that almost 3m people lost their homes in this one flood, from 5 days rain in September 2012. 

Another of Joon's shots: see how easily those houses dissolve

These had been rebuilt after the 2010 floods by another agency / donor
(who will remain unamed!). Point is: by using bricks and cement these cost a lot of money
  and are not necessarily flood resistant, as we see right here. 

 Like about three million others Sabina lost all her stuff, half her animals and her entire house when the monsoon-heavy sky literally opened up for five days in mid-September 2012. 
Fired brick homes didn't necessarily stand up any better than
adobe / mud.  
We might refer to these days as torrential rain that goes on and on (it seems to be like this in Scotland for weeks in Spring!).  But this was different, it was referred to as  an “extreme cloud outburst” by climatologists and sounds very much like an extreme weather event brought on by global warming, a symptom of climate change.  I find it hard to imagine: rain that’s so intense it destroys your whole village, and thousands like it all around.  For hundreds of miles: about 3 million people’s villages.  

Their whole village is down that road somewhere behind this guy.
No insurance company will give these people cover.
So all his savings... Gone. 

From Rajanpur, in Southern Punjab, which was also seriously affected in 2012.
This was taken in March - six months after the floods! Very few families
had the money to rebuild.  Now living in tents or makeshift shelters.
Much more vulnerable to future floods. And so the cycle goes.

Sabina told me that when they saw their houses crumbling and the waters rising they packed what little they could carry and made their way to safer, higher ground.  Sindh is pretty much a massive flat plain so there aren’t many raised areas, but there are quite a few rural roads, raised up to some degree.  They took refuge there where they met some of HANDS’ teams when they were reaching out to people devastated by this flood – the third major flood is as many years. 

The scale of these climate disasters is so massive that it’s impossible for NGOs, Government or UN agencies to reach everyone.  HANDS had been working with DFID funds in response to the 2011 floods a year earlier so like a couple of our other partners they were able to respond quickly, and we (DFID) provided a  “top up” of £2m to reach 26,000 families like Sabina’s with some basic emergency shelter and support. 

Having been down the whole emergency response road quite a few times before (and having spoken to folks like Sabina who’d been washed out of their homes in the previous floods we had a fair idea of what would be useful to give out.  If indeed you give anything out: there’s a big push globally to just go for cash: find some way to transfer a useful amount of cash, like $100, to the disaster affected and they’ll figure out the best thing to buy, be it food, medicines, a bus ticket for the whole family to go to the city? But I have spent years visiting hundreds of communities hit by floods in these areas and I always ask this question: would you prefer cash or the equivalent value of this cash in shelter materials and they almost always chose the latter (well, with a laugh they add that they’d really rather have both!).

Stuff it was to be then, £2m of shelter bits and some other items. That’s about £75 per family.  Let’s look at exactly what’s included and what difference it makes. 

This very orange photo shows more or less what’s included in this kit: a steel girder, 20 really long bamboo poles, a couple of big pieces of plastic, a water filter and a solar light.  This “roofing kit” as it came to be known was originally HANDS idea: give out an emergency kit that can be used upon return to build a reasonably permanent shelter as well. I have always liked this approach because it invests in lots of phases of return, it assumes that things can be re-used so demands good quality.  And it’s just so much better value than a tent costing three times more but providing less than half the flexibility and longevity. 

The solar lights are something  I’ve been encouraging with all our partners for years because before working in Pakistan my family and I were re-building a ruin in a small village in Portugal and I spent a lot of time wandering around at night stubbing toes and falling over rocks when I lost my torch. 

picture courtesy of IOM - our other long term partner
in Pakistan, who have also done great work
with lights, communities, shelter.
I realised that most folk here had no light when they left their homes and were really vulnerable (not just to stubbed toes but to violence, intimidation, sexual abuse, the stuff of nightmares).  So lights were a must (and we’ve distributed way over 100,000 already..).  Also, people really value having light after sun-down and will spend between $3 and $10 a month on candles, kerosene or torches.  These Mandarin lights I found from Illumination cost about $8 and last for years, so again, better economics.  Other such solar lights that have been good and robust come from Toughstuff and D-Light, but both are just a little more expensive, so most partners have gone for the Mandarins.

The materials from the HANDS roofing kit, being used as
a temporary shelter ( you could call it transitional). How much
better is this than a tent!? And.. they will be used again for the fully
reconstructed house.  
By the time I met Sabina she had already moved home and had used these shelter materials to construct a fairly solid roof over the basic walls made from local earth.  This meant that she wouldn’t have to live in a tiny tent or an adapted cow shed, which is where most people live for years after these floods. In fact this is what happens in the absence of humanitarian aid: people just suffer – For Years!   Living out in the virtual open air, with temperatures over 50 degrees in summer and below 5 degrees in winter. 

By now we had received approval from London to initiate a post-emergency programme of recovery support for those people worst affected by the 2012 floods.  This is how humanitarian aid often works: emergency assistance quickly for the first 1 to 6 months, then separate funding for longer term recovery efforts that help people rebuild their lives to at least what they had before.   DFID / the UK responded amazingly to our pitch and agreed to support over 50,000 families to rebuild durable, flood-resistant homes. In addition to this, to reach a further 80,000 more families with agriculture and other livelihood inputs to help restart their incomes and overcome debt; support almost half a million people to rebuild broken water pumps and systems and to encourage them to build toilets and improve their hygiene and sanitation situation (long story, for another blog!).  Overall we received approval for just over £21m for this whole recovery programme which carries on through April 2015.

For Sabina, this meant that HANDS could now start supporting her and others to build homes that would not collapse under the heavy rains.  And so we enter the world of lime, clay and local materials.  More on that in the next episode…

OK to finish, a few more photos because I can't not share these! 

Too bright to forget. Despite the amazing levels of damage and poverty, I'm constantly amazed by how happy and bright and positive these people are.  I think of urban poverty in Scotland... Don't think I see such happy and friendly people... Yet behind these wonderful eyes and smiles there's serious malnutrition (around 23% severe / acute to be precise) and about 10% female literacy. Go figure...

Sabina and family - with Waqar DFID driver and long time friend, colleague, philosopher and political commentator making a guest showing!

This is from another village where IOM has completed this permanent shelter, on the left. I like this photo because you see the "before and after" - this shack on the left is basically how people live, for many years, if a shelter programme doesn't reach them.  This is the impact of our work.  

Andrea on March 2nd, 2015

Jeroen spent last weekend at Quinta do Luzio in Sintra, working on a ferrocement tank.

We’re hoping to make our own here at Casalinho during the Extended Permaculture Design Course we’ll be running 19th June – 20th July. Check out our courses page for full details.

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The post Ferrocement Tank appeared first on Casalinho.

Andrea on February 28th, 2015

This is part of a series of posts where we ask one of our volunteers or visitors to say a few words about their stay. Sam worked with us this summer, and these are his reflections. 

I’d never had to chase a goat before. Especially not one hell-bent on using his new found freedom to try and charm a lady-goat named Beyonce. So, like a conga line in decline, the three of us were charging around an enclosed space with very little sense of direction. Not usually what I’d be up to at 9am.


I learnt a lot over my stay at Casalinho, a permaculturally enacted family homestead in central Portugal. This two week period provided the foundation for a larger summer jaunt and certainly left a lasting impression.

It’s an admirably tough lifestyle, one that takes determination and ingenuity every day. Andrea, Jeroen and their family have built it themselves, making adjustments along the way, and have certainly worked their socks off for it. But it seems to be a good life. One that made me truly wake up every day and pay attention.

I developed an odd relationship with the lovely elderly seniorita who ran the shop in the local town, with our exchanges ending with her giving me an ungodly amount of free bread-rolls for no apparent reason. Moments like this crammed my stay with many fond memories. Countless laughs, tea clubs and adventures with an amazing bunch of volunteers. Wandering around looking for firewood singing ‘Lean On Me’ to no one in particular. The promise of a full sky of stars most nights. Interesting discussions over wine and home-made grub. Forming a Belgian-British hybrid rap partnership. The cats and dogs who always seemed overjoyed to see you. The sit on the local bar’s balcony watching swallows dip and dive. The early evening light, where the haze of the heat had departed to reveal all of the golds and ambers of the land.

SamDiary22On top of all this, the generosity and willingness to explain that Andrea and Jeroen showed throughout displayed an element of kindness that went far beyond the call of duty. I’ve been back home for a while now, but I still try to remind myself of the lessons I learned from the trip. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, with the nature of the work providing a number of challenges that in my naivety I hadn’t truly anticipated. I learnt a whole lot about the actual practicalities of running and living this kind of life, alongside a stack of knowledge that I’ve taken back home with me and tried to apply (Kombucha- do it).

All in all, I’d recommend getting stuck into something like this if you’ve ever been intrigued. WWOOFing in general seems to offer itself as a useful option for adding something varied to a larger trip. It will be different to what you expect, but in that will be lessons and perspectives that are probably better than the ones you imagine. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to tell people you hung out with Beyonce.


Thanks Sam. Beyonce, and her cohort Kylie, await your return. 


The post A Visitor’s Perspective – Sam Hangs with Beyonce appeared first on Casalinho.

Mónica Barbosa on February 23rd, 2015
logo Porto Cidade transição

Seminário Internacional “Porto, Cidade em Transição”

Fundação Dr. António Cupertino de Miranda realizará no próximo dia 27 de Fevereiro, das 9h30 às 18h30, o Seminário Internacional “Porto, Cidade em Transição”, o qual contará com a presença do Senhor Secretário de Estado da Cultura, Dr. Jorge Barreto Xavier, e do Senhor Presidente da Câmara Municipal do Porto, Dr. Rui Moreira.
Transição Portugal e a Transition Network colaboraram na elaboração do programa. Este seminário oferece aos seus participantes uma introdução ao Movimento de Transição a nível local, nacional e internacional, durante o qual todas as pessoas presentes podem imaginar um projeto de um ano e escolher algumas oficinas com elementos que as ajudarão a concretizá-lo.
A Fundação Dr. António Cupertino de Miranda pretende chamar a atenção para o Movimento de Transição, que é um movimento reactivo, enquanto resposta comunitária, da sociedade civil, ao reconhecimento da urgência de ação sobre duas condições essenciais que têm e terão impactos estruturais a curto-prazo na nossa organização sócio-económica e nos nossos modos de vida – o início do fim dos combustíveis fósseis baratos e o impacto humano nas alterações climáticas planetárias. Por outro lado, é também um movimento pró-ativo e catalisador, por procurar um paradigma e uma visão de prosperidade alternativas, diferentes do que tem sido habitual nas últimas décadas, e que incide sobretudo na ação ao nível local, dentro das comunidades, como parte possível e desejável da ação necessária para responder aos desafios que se põem ao nosso futuro próximo. Uma visão que passa por dois conceitos-chave: a resiliência comunitária e a localização.
O Movimento de Transição liga iniciativas locais em todo o mundo, muito diversas, partilhando entre si as aprendizagens de todos aspetos do trabalho comunitário numa rede que aprende, que partilha e que cresce.
No dia 26 de Fevereiro, das 15h30-18h30, a Fundação Dr. Cupertino de Miranda abre as suas portas para a pré-abertura com a projecção do Filme “In Transition 2.0” com dinâmicas reflexivas.
A inscrição é gratuita, mas obrigatória para estes eventos através da ficha de inscrição.

Enquanto Psicóloga Clínica, Ex-Funcionária Pública, Permacultora em Transição, vou facilitar esta oficina:

Transição no contexto profissional
Uma oficina que, através de várias dinâmicas de grupo e individuais, irá terminar com planos concretos para cada pessoa no seu contexto profissional.

Precisamos de fazer de conta que não estamos a destruir o nosso planeta para manter os nossos hábitos de vida. 
Que emoções desperta esta tomada de consciência?
Como lidamos com elas?
Que impacto tem esta consciência no desempenho da nossa profissão?
Que soluções podemos encontrar para implementar no nosso contexto profissional?

Mónica Barbosa on February 20th, 2015
Recomendamos vivamente!
Uma parceria
e Horta do  Mundo

Crescer com a Horta - Férias da Páscoa 2015

CRESCER COM A HORTA - Oficina de Permacultura
De 30 Março a 3 Abril  (2ª Semana) 

O que uma planta precisa para crescer? Vamos cultivar o nosso alimento!

Crescer com a Horta é uma oficina de introdução à permacultura dirigida a jovens entre os 10 e os 14 anos, que se realiza na segunda semana das férias da Páscoa (30 de março a 3 de abril de 2015), de 2ª a 6ª Feira, das 9 às 17h30.


A oficina tem como objetivos:

- Criar uma visão colectiva da horta, observar a posição do sol, desenhar a forma dos canteiros e escolher as plantas de acordo com a época de plantação.

- Observar o ciclo das plantas, descobrir aquilo que as plantas necessitam e compreender a importância de cultivar os nossos alimentos de forma ética e saudável.

- Promover e desenvolver os valores humanos, a sensibilidade e o respeito pelo ecossistema de que somos parte.

- Fomentar a biodiversidade e explorar relações de cooperação entre as plantas assim como no trabalho de grupo.

- Participar em todo o processo de construção de um canteiro utilizando técnicas de permacultura.

Materiais necessários:
Material reutilizável (pacotes de sumo e leite, garrafas de água), tesouras, corda, sementes, plantas, terra bio, palha, madeira seca, húmus.

A Horta do Mundo Cultivamos Pessoas é um coletivo de permacultura que promove estilos de vida saudáveis e sustentáveis. Com um espírito criativo e construtivo, encontramos soluções que contribuem para uma sociedade mais humana e responsável, ao nível social, cultural e ambiental.

Oficinas "Semear o Mundo"
(para crianças e jovens dos 6 aos 18 anos, promovidas nos períodos de férias, inscrição prévia obrigatória)
Mais informação:

Mónica Barbosa on February 8th, 2015

Curso de Introdução à Permacultura em Chão Sobral - Serra do Açor

De 14-02-2015 a 15-02-2015

Tv. da Carreira, nº 6. Chão Sobral
3400-260 Aldeia das Dez, Chão Sobral

Oliveira do Hospital - Serra do Açor

As sessões teórico-práticas terão lugar no contexto de trabalho dos habitantes de Chão Sobral, com 100 habitantes, no Vale do Rio Alvôco, na Serra do Açor.
A ética e os princípios da permacultura reflectem a capacidade de auto-regeneração e auto-organização dos ecossistemas da Natureza.
Por este motivo, incentivamos e facilitamos a auto-organização e auto-gestão entre os participantes desdo o início.



9h-11h Sessão 1
11h-14h Almoço
14h-18h Sessão 2 e 3

20h30 Filme e discussão


Manhã livre
Sugestões: caminhada pela montanha, visita a Piódão /a 16 kms e Santuário da Senhora das Preces/ a 3 kms, Monte Colcurinho 1240 metros de altitude / a 10 kms.

14h-17h Sessão 4

Opção 1 - 30 euros pagamento por transferência bancária no acto da inscrição.
Opção 2 - 15 euros e 4 horas de trabalho no dia 16 de Fevereiro.

Limitado a 8 participantes.

Inscrições até 10 de Fevereiro, pelo email
joaovox @ ou pelo telemóvel 96 96 80 009.

A alimentação e organização de boleias é da responsabilidade dos participantes.

Para opções de alojamento e alimentos produzidos em Chão Sobral contactar a Casa Verde.

Mais informações sobre o local

Sítio da associação local:
Mapa - como chegar cá:
Onde ficar -
Mónica Barbosa on February 7th, 2015
A Campo Aberto recomenda uma revista única em Portugal em matéria
ecológica e alternativa, a revista eco123, que se publica em
Monchique. As cidades em transição e a agricultura e o
ecodesenvolvimento rural são nela temas sempre presentes.

Com vista a uma reformulação e aprofundamento, a eco123 lançou uma

campanha de crowdfunding, de que apresentamos adiante o conceito e
informações básicas. Colabore!

Campo Aberto - associação de defesa do ambiente

O crowdfunding é o financiamento democrático e público de investidores

privados, totalmente seguro e com grande popularidade.

Visite o site para criar uma conta, registe

o seu contributo - e receberá uma boa prenda em casa.

A ECO123 conta histórias de sucesso Made em Portugal.

Faça parte desta mudança positiva - passe a palavra junto dos seus

amigos, familiares e pessoas interessadas.

Um abraço

da equipa da revista ECO123
joao pedro goncalves on February 1st, 2015
Dia 21 de Março

Oficina - Agroecologia, Floresta Alimentar e Abacateiros em Portugal

Local: Quinta Velha Queijeira - Azeitão


9h Recepção dos participantes
9h30 Sessão 1
12h Intervalo para almoço partilhado
14h Sessão 2
17h Trocas de sementes, plantas e outros produtos caseirinhos.

Facilitador: João Gonçalves

A oficina ocorrerá com um mínimo de 4 e máximo 8 participantes.

Custo: 40 euros, a pagar no acto da inscrição por transferência bancária.

Inscrições até dia 18 de Março.

Mais informações pelo email
monicapbarbosa @
e telemóvel 96 845 91 31

Evento organizado por Casa Verde na Serra
Andrea on February 1st, 2015

I was planning on posting more photographs of around the farm today, but yesterday morning a water carrying tunnel connecting the dams of Santa Luzia and Alto Ceira near to us broke, causing a torrent of water to come crashing out. The resultant flooding, from the ruptured tunnel and from the subsequent emergency lowering of the water in the dam, has been creating dramatic scenes locally, all the way along the route of the Rio Ceira as far as Coimbra. So, I’m taking opportunity to share some of the amazing photos of those scenes today instead.

The scene of the ruptured pipe, between Cambas and Porto da Valsa (Photo credits Ricardo Dias)

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Downriver at Gois (Photo credits Miguel Mourão)

10696289_794684237247002_6509879756773168282_n 20706_794684307246995_1187711688347749455_n 10897873_794684047247021_5825091091611706756_n 10947280_794684013913691_9217418431444465172_n 10420069_794684050580354_1496666979807903777_n 10968435_794684110580348_3172240630588915901_n 10941440_794684163913676_5957803209962066615_n 1459827_794684157247010_5460490657887290090_n 10347252_794684217247004_2406726827782235146_n 10898076_794684177247008_5789051242031693140_n 10945006_794684253913667_1151732790188262697_n 10931098_794684107247015_3617243664105557949_n 10897853_794684020580357_9012318166551017198_n

And at Ceira, near Coimbra (Photo credits Jose Santos)

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By sheer luck it would appear that there has been no loss of life or injury as a result of this rupture. Imagine if this had happened at ten on a Saturday evening instead of at eight on a Saturday morning? There are three bars on that stretch of the Ceira at Gois alone.

Already I’m reading about blame and compensation, and no doubt that discussion will continue long after the water recedes. I do hope though that the engineers and planners are already at work checking out the rest of this infrastructure. If you’re going to try and tame mother nature, you’d be better be damned sure you do it properly.


The post Ruptured Pipe Causes Rio Ceira Flooding appeared first on Casalinho.