What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a sustainable design system that provides for human needs while having positive effects on the surrounding environment.

It is based on the ethics of earth care, people care and fair share, and provides practical solutions to the global crises we are currently facing.

Permaculture is for EVERYONE, regardless of their education, background, or previous experience.

Permaculture is NOT just about trees, or just about gardening! You don't need loads of land to practice it and it's a design method that can be applied to all social systems.

Support our Project

We'll use your donations to further our plans to plant more trees and vines.

Piggies!!!!

Those who’ve spoken to me recently will know how excited I’ve been! The cause of all my excitement comes courtesy of Mrs Pig who has become a proud new mummy pig with the arrival of four piglets. A small litter isn’t unusual for a first time mum, and she’s doing a grand job with them so far.

17352596_10202940668073238_1992597336_n Piglets 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who use Facebook, there’s a lovely little video of them here.

Share

Goat kids 2017

kids

 

 

All say Awwwwwww!

 

 

 

 

 

PICT1070

 

 

 

The little chaps above belong to Schneckle, and we’re glad to see them safely arrive as it seemed to have been the longest pregnancy ever! The downside of keeping Mr Goat with the ladies is we don’t have a expected due date when are ladies are pregnant. Schneckle was huge for what seemed like forever.

 

Beyonce also had two little ones this year, but rejected them and despite our best efforts we couldn’t save them.

Share

Permaculture Design Course schedule 2017

IMG_7327copy-225x300

I’m very excited to announce this year’s Permaculture Design Course schedule. As in previous years, all our PDCs will be accredited by the UK Permaculture Association and taught in English (although our teachers do speak Portuguese too and can help with translating new words / concepts).

* 10 day PDC – Friday 9th June – Sunday 18th June 2017


* 16 day PDC – Saturday 29th July – Sunday 13th August 2017


* 12 day Permaculture Design Course – Friday 18th August – Tuesday 29th August

Click here for full details and costs.
Click here for details of summer internships.

Please join us and share with your friends!

DSC_0093-300x200

Share

A Visitor’s Perspective: A Homage to Casalinho

This is part of a series of posts where we ask one of our visitors to say a few words about their stay. Ollie volunteered with us in 2015, and this is the blog post he wrote about his stay.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Chillies

Hemmed high in the Portuguese mountains, in the less-traveled and lesser populated hills between Beira Litoral and Estremadura, is Casalinho; a farm, a small holding, part-entrepreneurial, part-communitarian, a micro project in rural sufficiency and organic sustainability. The homeowners and hosts, Andrea and Jeroen, of English and Dutch provenance, welcome volunteers and fellow travelers all year round with open arms, humour, grit, irony, admirable patience and an almost-encyclopedic knowledge of the horticultural, the agricultural, and the ecological. The volunteers, temporary co-habitants – a multi-national, peripatetic, multi-lingual convocation, all walking separate paths, meeting and living and working together by happenstance – come to learn, contribute, eat, drink and laugh, then leave richer than when they arrived.

All this in the most alluvial, edenic surroundings: curving around the farm in all directions are smoothly meandering hills of Maritime pine, the matte valleys fissured by looming, mesmeric ridges of Cretaceous granite, strewn across the gulches like the moss-covered spines of ancient behemoths. The roads lace the mountainsides like capillaries, curling up the slopes like unraveling rope – often at unsettling cambers, at inclines that exhaust even the sturdiest of engines – then cutting through the hilltops leaving steep escarpments of chiseled, polytonal slate; fragile and jagged mosaics of ash, rust and sorbet talus; shale, mudstone and clay compressed since Tortonian times into sharp, splintering rock. The farm itself extends east of the large, three-story, beautiful stone quinta, the land separated into an orchard, small vineyard, fields and, below the house, a grassy terrace and vegetable garden; across the road and opposite the driveway is the campsite, the leveled plots extending uphill into the forest.

From the simple confines of a tent or caravan, the workday begins early with the sweetly melodic tones from the church bell in Aradas creeping around the hillsides. Even in the warmer, southern climes, the mornings at 800m can be cold, the sky either a light blueish jade, the moon still radiant before sinking from view, or thickly white with cloud, the eastward wind turbine barely visible, only its rotor tips slicing through the low-hanging mist. Before work: coffee, brewed with the encased fires of a ghillie kettle, a vital but frustrating task first thing, the frozen metal refusing to accommodate the initial licks of flame, the volunteer sleepily blowing embers while rolling a cigarette with numb fingers. Then, after an oaty breakfast, to work.

quinceThe resident goats – masticating machines with insatiable appetites – need feeding daily, both with freshly cut grasses and the tougher forest shrubs – broom, heather and carqueja; grass cutting of course serving the secondary function of forest fire prevention, the omniscient threat of total ruin mitigated somewhat by a slender scythe and humble bucket. Following these daily labours, the remaining work varies in delicacy, creativity, thought, repetitiveness and raw energy required. It might be weeding in the colourful serenity of the garden, mulching to repel said weeds, building a new tire bed for herbs, fruits and flowers, constructing a hot compost pile to enrich the thin, deficient soil endemic to similar latitudes, or digging for clay with a pickaxe, muscles aching, sweat dripping as a patina of fine red dust settles on every surface. Whichever task is chosen or assigned, it will likely be done to the choral fugues of birds, the querulous bleating of goats and the guttural squawks of the cockerel. All jobs, to the punctilious worker, have their simple pleasures to be found; in weeding, for example – the damp alkaline smell of the soil, the exploratory worming of fingers to gauge root depth and the terse satisfaction as the weed is tugged loose, root structure intact. Or in composting – the steady layering of manure and grass, the gradual growth in volume and height and, when turning the pile, the vinegar smell of putrefaction, a sign of bioactivity, confirmation of organisms busily augmenting the biomass, endless forms in a creative-destructive dance, the clamour of microbial life microscopically astir. And all jobs share the same, ever present downside: Rubus Fruticosus.

Moody sunset

Share

Eat Up All Your Vegetables!

I wrote this back in 2014. Spending some time away from home reliant on supermarket veggies brought it to mind again.

If you’ve gone to all the time and trouble to grow something delicious and nutritious, you’ll want to make the most of it. Well, that’s the way we look at it anyway! We don’t believe in waste and, although our animals will gleefully process any vegetable scraps we produce, we would still rather eat them ourselves where possible. A great example of this is the fruit scrap vinegar we’ve started producing, but what about vegetables?

10656330_692827637454662_927278374_n

In most cases the vegetables offered in the supermarket have been shorn of all their greenery to lengthen their shelf life, and I’m sure that’s why so many people just don’t realise that many vegetables have more edible parts that we’re generally offered.

Take onions for instance. The green leaves are delicious, either raw in salads or cooked. They’re so good that we store our onion harvest minus the greens, so that we can dehydrate those for use over the winter.

Carrots too have tasty leaves. They’re a bit tough so best chopped into cooked dishes very finely. Again, they dehydrate nicely so preserving a glut when the crop is harvested is easy.

Pumpkin and squash leaves and buds are tasty steamed with a little chilli and lemon. Just the small and fresh ones though, we suggest the goats might appreciate the tougher ones more than people! And the flowers are a delicacy of course, although do remember to remove the stamens as they are incredibly bitter. Try stuffing them with ricotta and cashew purée then frying in a tempura batter if you’re feeling exotic, but if you’ve more simple tastes (or better things to do!) then just chuck them in the final simmer of your soup or on top of a pizza.

10622265_692824897454936_97461372_n

PICT8126

Pumpkins and squashes (left) produce huge amounts of greenery. The young leaves and buds (right) make a delicious lightly squash flavoured green vegetable.

 

Beetroot leaves of course can be eaten raw or cooked, we’re used to seeing the young leaves in pre-prepared bagged salads. The larger leaves are equally good, either finely chopped raw or cooked. Beware interesting coloured soups though! Did you know that beetroot stalks are delicious lightly lacto-fermented? Don’t waste a thing! Just chop them into lengths and fully submerge in salted water for a week or so to taste. The fermented pieces are tasty in a mixed salad, and a funky colour too.

Pinch off the tops of pea and bean vines for a tasty extra. Turnip leaves are commonly served as a spinach type dish here in Portugal, but rarely eaten in the UK. Radish leaves can be treated the same. Why throw away half the plant?! Broccoli stalk is yummy chopped and sautéed in butter. The leaves are thicker than cabbage, but treat the same. Cauliflower too. You can harvest about a third of the greens from your sweet potato crop and treat as spinach without hurting the crop of roots.

When planning your garden, maximise your yield by planting things with more than one edible yield. Compare beetroot and parsnip for example, two root crops taking up approximately the same amount of space in the bed. The beetroot can be eaten in it’s entirety (the leaves can even be treated as a cut and come again crop without damaging the root crop if you’re not over greedy), whereas the luxuriant greens of the parsnip go to waste as we can only enjoy the root. I’m not suggesting that we forego parsnips entirely! Variety is the spice of life! But it’s a little something else to consider.

It’s worth my pointing out that we have compost loos and ALL our waste finds it’s way back to the land eventually. Our compost heaps don’t suffer for the lack of veg trimmings!

I’m sure there are many more examples than I’ve mentioned here. Please share in the comments below if you can think of any.

Share

Hive Inspections

Warmer weather means we’ve been able to do the first hive inspections of the new year. Sadly one colony hasn’t survived the winter, but the other is looking healthy.

16938964_1365567366848883_6051021825544003694_n

First inspection of the year

Share

Reasons to be cheerful: Spring Flowers

It seems incredible that my last post was about the snow! Beautiful spring flowers have popped up virtually overnight.

Spring flowers

Jonquils are a lovely part of the roadside scenery between Aradas and Unhais o Velho.

 

Crocus popping up through the luxuriant chickweed in the garden

Crocus popping up through the luxuriant chickweed in the garden

Share

Snow Scene

Snow scene

 

I knew I should have taken the washing off the line!

We’re at around 800m so get snow perhaps once or twice a year. This fall got heavier in the evening, but just lasted 24 hours.

 

Share

Seasonal decor?

Seasonal decor, Casalinho style. Home made chorizo and morcela dry curing above the stove.

Chorizo
It’s been a busy few weeks, with the killing and processing of our first home grown pig and the completion of the olive harvest keeping us busy. More on what we’ve been up to in due course, but in the meantime may we wish you a peaceful and joyful beginning to a new year.

Share

Reasons to be Cheerful: December Sunset

Who needs TV when nature offers so much to watch? These December sunsets all captured inside 20 minutes, looking towards Aradas and Unhais o Velho.

 

winter sunset

winter sunset

winter sunset

Share