Multi-skilled, experienced couple in stable 15 year relationship and with 7 year old home schooled daughter seeking paid positions in Portugal. Would consider seasonal positions.
We are committed to a sustainable/organic/earth-friendly lifestyle and would like to work, if possible, with others in projects who share these values.
We are currently on the Workaway/HelpX circuit in Portugal and Southern Spain and sharing our skills and talents with a variety of projects and hosts.
Between us, we have many decades of skills and experience in a variety of disciplines: diverse building skills, professional pottery, Internet communications/web site development, creating/running cafes/restaurants, cooking for groups, organic greenhouse building/growing and produce marketing, desktop publishing/sales/marketing, Internet marketing, booth/market selling, creative business development, gluten-free organic baked goods business, customer relations/client development and more.
Language fluency includes English, German, French, Swiss German and some Italian. More personal/business experience details/interview upon request.
We are open to a variety of work situations and businesses – we have no specific careers paths to pursue. We need to find a sustainable wage to support ourselves in our wish to stay in Portugal. We are also open to volunteer positions that realistically lead to paid positions after a trial period. Ideally we would like an ecologically minded project where out talents and experience can be well utilized.
Thanks for reading – if anyone has or knows of potential positions where we may fit the bill – please contact us or refer us.
This is part of a series of posts where we ask one of our volunteers or visitors to say a few words. This is Sam’s fourth contribution whilst he works with us as a volunteer.
A Visitor’s Perspective: Sam’s Diary – A Bountiful Harvest
In the Game of Throne series a common theme is, “Winter is coming.” Unfortunately in Central Portugal we didn’t get that kind of warning. After working in the sun for a week the weather drastically changed. Casalinho was suddenly drenched with torrential rain. I went from washing dishes with my shirt off and the sun on my back, to washing dishes in my poncho in pouring rain. Due to these vast amounts of moisture and frost most of the vegetables had to be harvested immediately. If not, they would quickly begin to rot. This post is dedicated to the bountiful harvest of Casalinho during the arrival of winter.
I started off by harvesting the chillies:
We got about a bucket full of these delicious chillies. They’ve been spicing up our meals every since. Next I harvested the peppers:
I harvested a massive bucket of these peppers. I love all the red and green mixture of color on these veggies. Since then we’ve been chopping them into bits for dehydration. After the peppers a fellow WWOOFer Calum and I harvested the squash.
We harvested everything: flowers, fruits, and immature fruits. They all would quickly have rotten if we hadn’t. To us these squash seemed gigantic! However, Andrea explained that these squash were small compared to last year. The picture below gives you an idea of how large some of these pumpkins were.
The next day as a group effort we walked over to Casalinho’s chestnut forest to harvest the fallen chestnuts. It took a long time, but eventually we got the job done. The fallen leaves and chestnut husks were also collected for livestock bedding and the wormeries.
In this picture we’re sorting through all the chestnuts. The small and rotten chestnuts went to the livestock and the big ones went to us! Here’s a close up picture of the chestnuts because I think they look gorgeous.
I tried a roasted chestnut for the first time, and it blew my mind!
With rain comes mushrooms. Andrea explained that there haven’t been as many wild edible mushrooms this year. But we’ve still been foraging them. We mostly find large parasol mushrooms. They’ve been absolutely delicious in soups and stews.
So even though winter has arrived with rain and frost. We’re eating very well. A bountiful harvest indeed!
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Our weekly round up of what volunteers have been working on at Casalinho, our developing permaculture project in central Portugal.
1) Highlight of the week was the surprise birth of a little goat kid on Friday morning. In this photo she’s only a few hours old and already determined to follow her Mum outside.
2) One of the great things about olive harvest is the number of prunings that come back for the goats to enjoy. This load came from our neighbour Jorge who no longer keeps goat. We’re happy to collect them, our goats are happy to eat them, and it saves Jorge having to dispose of them. Win-win-win situation!
3) The garlic we planted just a couple of weeks ago is doing tremendously. The broad beans are not far behind. Must be all that rain we’ve been having! Hopefully they’ll get a good start before the temperature drops.
4) The rain has been pretty hard at times this week. The chickens don’t seem to care, dancing in the mud to keep everyone amused.
5) Tent protection, tarpaulin style! Effective, although noisy in the wind.
6) This week’s most exciting news. New accommodation in the pipeline! More on this to follow.
We’ve got some gaps in our volunteer diary for the coming months. Come and join us!
Guess what I found in the goat shed this morning? Yes, a little goat kid was born overnight
It’s been horrid weather, and it looks like Brownie gave birth outside rather than in the shed, probably because the bigger goats wouldn’t let her in. Little one is doing well though, and I couldn’t have had a nicer start to the day.
A Journey into Pure Being with Peter Bampton
This retreat will be held at Avidanja near Montemor-o-Velho, Coimbra
If we want to be free, if we want to live a life of profound wholeness and purpose, then we need to discover and become grounded in the source of our Being. In this weekend retreat we will dive deeply into the experience of meditation, not through a technique, but through discovering our natural state.
Experiencing awakened consciousness and sharing that discovery with others is the most fulfilling and liberating experience you can have. When you discover direct access to your inherent freedom you find yourself in communion with life, fearlessly open to the future, and able to respond with clarity, creativity and spontaneity
This is an opportunity to put aside the routine of our everyday lives and give ourselves completely to spiritual practice so that we may be inspired and renewed by the wellspring of peace, joy and depth that lies at the core of our being. The radically simple yet profound approach to meditation that Peter shares is a direct doorway to this miracle of natural awakening. The instructions are so simple that anyone can begin without any previous experience. At the same time, the subtlety that is revealed about the nature of mind and non-duality offers infinite depth to even the most experienced meditator. The retreat will be held in silence except for teaching periods and question and answer sessions. No previous meditation experience is necessary and people from all faiths and spiritual orientations can benefit.
I had a most rewarding meditation weekend. The instructions that we received for it were simple and straight forward, yet powerful, for they aim directly to the purpose of meditation. I also appreciated the lack of ornamental rituals. Besides, I valued very much the opportunity to get near the Awakened Life Community. I think it is a powerful and recommendable place for working on personal transformation.
Javier Lantero, Founder Tomillo Foundation, Madrid, Spain
Be still. Let yourself relax. You don’t need to make any effort. Just allow yourself to be deeply at ease. Then take the risk to release your attention to expand and flow free, detaching from any form of conceptual engagement with the mind. Allow your attention to become vast, wide, open, and clear. In that wide-open space, all kinds of things may come and go—thoughts, emotions, physical sensations—but don’t focus your attention on any of them. Let your awareness expand in all directions, until it becomes so vast that you’re paying attention to everything at the same time while not focusing on anything in particular. Keep letting your attention expand until awareness itself becomes the object of your attention. Keep letting your attention expand to infinity, until all the structures of the created universe begin to crumble and you start seeing through everything. Finally, when everything falls away, you will awaken, in your own experience, to the unborn, unmanifest Ground of Being, the empty void out of which the whole manifest world sprang into existence. In this place, nothing has ever happened. The universe has not yet emerged; you have not been born; even time itself has not yet begun. When you find this limitless no-place, then your deepest sense of yourself and of life itself will change from one of imprisonment and limitation to one of unqualified freedom.
3 delicious vegetarian means are provided per day.
To reflect the financial crisis in Portugal we have two prices, one for Portuguese and one for Foreigners.
120€ – 1 person in dormitory (4-5 persons)
140€ – per person in room with double bed
160€ – individual room
150€ – 1 person in dormitory (4-5 persons)
170€ – per person in room with double bed
190€ – individual room
If you have financial difficulty and need a discount in order to attend please write to us and tell us why you want to come to the retreat and what price you can afford.
A rádio de Oliveira de Hospital.
Estivemos no programa "Nós a mulheres".
No almoço anual da Associação da vila Foz da Moura, conhecemos o Zé Conde e a Natália.
Ela faz o programa "Nós as mulheres".
Convidaram-nos para irmos ao programa porque ficaram interessados
no facto termos trocado a cidade pelo campo,
vivermos em simplicidade voluntária e
de acordo com a ética da permacultura.
A Natália Novais à esquerda e o marido Zé Manel Conde, nos estúdios da Rádio Boa Nova.
Para quem não ouviu, aqui vai o link para o áudio, graças ao amigo Pedro Palhoto que gravou o programa.
Olha "o casalinho" ;) em estúdio
Following on from the completion of the kitchen at the wee house, the next step was to create a dining area. The terrace in front of the house on the lower level was the logical place for this – lovely views through the olive trees down to the village and across the valley, and grapes vines already planted and just asking for a trellis to grow over to create a shaded seating area. Plus it had already been identified as a fine place to sit …
Wood for the trellis was on-site. We used some lengths of chestnut and the remaining olive trunk to make a slightly eccentric structure to connect to the existing trellis over Michael’s steps. Once the wooden structure was complete, the beams connecting the trellis to the house were drilled and threaded with galvanised wire to support the grape vines.
Work then began on a schist patio, using the remaining slabs in the stoneyard. These were bedded directly into sieved and raked soil rather than using mortar of any description. The project was enthusiastically embraced by good friend Caroline and volunteer Maddy.
While Caroline and Maddy laid slabs, I built a step for the toilet (incorporating a runner for the sliding door) and turned an old iron bedstead liberated from the dump into a 2-seater bench.
The next step was to create something useable out of a venerable old office table, once the property of the local council and which came with the quinta, but whose legs had rotted out at the base. The legs were all cut to the same length, and feet of fresh chestnut were attached and roughly shaped to size with a draw knife.
And finally, the completed dining area, which hosted many delightful dinners this summer. The grape vines grew enough to shade a good 50% of the area and with appropriate pruning this winter, should cover most of it next year.
It’s been a joy finally being able to invite local friends and volunteers to eat here again. (For anyone who remembers the lashed table by the yurt, we had to dismantle it to dig up the ground to sort a drainage problem. The nylon cord used for the lashings had also disintegrated and I hadn’t got around to sourcing better quality cord and putting it back together again.)
This is part of a series of posts where we ask one of our volunteers or visitors to say a few words. Sam is beginning his third week here as a volunteer and has kindly allowed us to share his online thoughts. Here, Sam gets creative with the prettiest of salads.
A Visitor’s Perspective: Sam’s Diary – A Foraged Salad
An aspect of permaculture Casalinho embodies is utilizing what the surrounding land has to provide. They have an excellent understanding of all the weeds, plants, and herbs that grow here naturally. Many of these plants are healthy and delicious for both their animals and for us! Andrea helped me identify some of her favourite plants to forage for salad.
Depicted in the picture above are the five main plants they use for salads. Starting from the bottom left and moving clockwise the names of these plants are: mallow, calendula, chickweed, plantain, and sheep’s sorrel. I walked around the grassy fields with scissors and a bowl and collected a bunch of these weeds. Plantain and chickweed are some of the most nutritious weeds in the world. It took quite a bit of time to finally fill the bowl. At the end I decided to add a few chopped collards, fresh raspberries, and thyme. With a bit of homemade goats cheese and a sweet salad dressing the foraged salad was scrumptious. I know sheep’s sorrel and mallow grow in my garden at home, so might as well start eating them :)
You can see the original of Sam’s article, and read more about his adventures here.
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Swales – level ditches dug to follow the contours of the land – are one of the principal ingredients of permaculture earthworks which are, by and large, recipes for catching and holding rainwater runoff and encouraging it to slowly infiltrate the soil rather than being lost to the nearest river. They can be dug to any sort of scale and used alone or, as part of an integrated water catchment system over an entire property, in combination with other elements like ponds, infiltration basins and dams.
On narrow terraces and steep mountain slopes with thin soils – ie. here – swales are not something you can use on a large scale, but they can still be useful. When I dug the lower ponds, the effect on the ability of the surrounding soil to support abundant growth was immediate and impressive, but it didn’t extend too far along the terrace. Just 2 metres away the soil was so dry in summer it barely supported a few grasses and wildflowers and would turn to dust in your hand and blow away. So after working out the contours of the terrace, I decided to extend the area of hydration much further along by using the ponds to feed small swales.
Since the slope of the terrace dictated that the two ponds are on two different levels, I would be able to run two main feed swales out across the terrace, one from each pond. The contour lines run diagonally across the terrace, so by using constructed spillways, I could create more swales below the lower pond level, potentially taking the water right along the terrace as far as an outcrop of bedrock where the terrace turns a corner and changes orientation.
To begin with, the presence of a temporary winter bed of cabbages and onions at the back of the terrace prevented me taking the swales the full width of the terrace, but they’ve now been dug right the way across.
I started work back in January after doing some remedial work on the ponds. The unlined ponds have been stable for a good couple of years now but a persistent problem has been burrowing rodents breaching the ponds and draining them out though their runs (usually through a terrace wall, so not to be encouraged). I used some of the slightly mangled corrugated metal sheeting we’d used as formwork for the water tanks cut down into lengths of roughly 3/4 metre and sunk vertically around the most vulnerable bits of the banks to create a physical barrier before backfilling with soil. Not pretty, but pretty effective. There’s only been one breach since, and it opened into one of the swales.
Rather than landscape the terrace into the classic swale and berm – the berm being formed on the downhill side of the swale by the soil dug to make the swale – I created mini terraces, retained on the downhill side by posts and sawmill offcuts and levelled the soil out in between to create growing beds. The area had already been planted with several apple trees the preceding year, so the trees were interplanted with shrubs such as redcurrant, goji berry and Buddleia, and comfrey as mulch and soil improver.
In May I extended the system by adding a third swale downhill of the second and also fed from the bottom pond. This time I had some help. With this swale, we used the classic berm along most of its length, largely because it’s too close to the terrace edge to do otherwise.
The swales were filled with prunings and mulch to cut down evaporative losses and we constructed mini chinampa-style trellises with bamboo and chicken wire to support the squashes we then planted on the downhill banks of the swales. A handful of compost was added to each squash planting and a lot of mulch but no other work was done to the soil. I wanted to see what it was capable of producing at this stage with just the benefit of the swales. The remainder of the beds were planted with self-seeding annuals such as amaranths and red orach, Welsh bunching onions, cabbages and courgettes.
The squash harvest was reasonable for essentially unfertilised ground.
I’ve been encouraged enough by progress so far to start on extending the system further. At the end of July, I lost all the chickens to local free-ranging dogs who managed to unlatch the fastening on the gate to the compound (at shoulder height) and then break open the gate. The compound has now been dismantled and I’m enlarging it to take in a wider area with a downhill boundary which extends all the way to the previously mentioned outcrop of bedrock. The lower main feed swale will fill a small duck pond, which will then drain into a further swale running the length of the perimeter fence. Outside the fence I’ll grow many more varieties of squash and other species which thrive on the nitrogen-rich run-off from the poultry pen while also providing summer shading for the birds.
Increasing the water holding capacity of the soil in any location is about more than just getting water to it though. Improvements need to be made to the soil structure, massively increasing the organic content and the depth of the topsoil, encouraging the presence and build-up of soil organisms, and planting soil building vegetation amongst the food plants.
I don’t necessarily see the ponds feeding the swales on a permanent basis. Once the soil becomes capable of holding considerably more moisture than it can at present – to the point where it’s able to sustain a reasonable level of moisture throughout Portugal’s hot summers – then the connection to the ponds becomes superfluous, at which point the supply for the duck pond may well be piped instead. The swales themselves will be maintained to continue to collect and infiltrate surface run-off through the winters.