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.

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Showered with Good Fortune

Each year, WWOOF Portugal award one host farm a small sum in the form of the WWOOF Host Grant. We proposed that we build a shower block for the use of wwoofers and other farm visitors, with the water supplied from the river using a RAM pump, heated using the power of the sun, and recycled to irrigate our crops afterwards. We were really excited to just hear  that our project has been chosen as the winner of 2013’s grant.

As those who have visited the farm will know, we’ve already got several RAM pumps operating. A RAM pump is a fabulous piece of technology which is ideal for our setting as it uses no outside power source and is cheap to build. It will enable us to move water that is already on the property to somewhere that we can utilise it. Once built, this system should require little maintenance other than cleaning. RAM pumps can be installed anywhere where there is a drop and a continuous flow of water, and we really can’t understand why so few people have even heard of them. Jeroen has made our existing ones at minimal cost, using plumbing fittings from the local hardware place and recycled plastic bottles.

Solar water heating makes a lot of sense when you consider that it’s a free and renewable resource which we have plenty of. Black plastic piping is reasonably cheap and it’s easily available. Stainless steel would be even better, but cost would be an issue for us.

All the greywater from our kitchen and from the washing up and clothes wash area returns to the land currently. We’ll position the new shower so that it’s above some of the areas that we currently struggle to keep watered in summer, the newish trees of the orchard and some of the newly planted vines. Of course, it means we’ll have to trust in visitors to only use toiletries which are eco-friendly. Although it’s something we ask already, some people seem to think that a flower on the front of the packaging is enough. Education is the key I suppose, plus the availability of the lovely products which we make available in Danny’s little shop from our friends at Corga da Pereira (and perhaps the threat of a peep hole? 😉 ).

I know that future visitors to the farm will appreciate this extra facility, as we will ourselves. The river is the most wonderful place in the world to wash in during the summer, but not quite so much fun in January!

One of my personal moans about the grant in previous years is that it’s not appeared accountable. So I intend to document our plans and our progress here. I hope you approve!

The sum that we will receive is 500€.  If we overspend, we’ll have to top up the difference. Our project must be complete by September, although we intend to have it completed by our summer busy period. With another Scout camp booked and a course schedule in the making, I think that news will be well received!

So, here’s our estimated breakdown of costs.  We wrote this in a couple of minutes flat with prices taken from memory, so I fully expect it will see some changes. I can only hope that we haven’t underestimated by too much!

  • RAM pump parts – 60 
  • Water holding tank (1000 litre) – 80 
  • Plastic piping & pipe connections (from river to tank and from tank to shower, allowing extra length for solar warming) – 90 
  • Blocks, sand and cement to build shower cabins – 150 
  • Slate for base – 10 
  • Shower heads – 15 x 2 = 30
  • Taps – 10 x 2 = 20 
  • Wood for roof – 100
  • Tiles for roof – reclaimed 

       Total cost 540 

Where we would site it took much discussion and wandering around the site in the rain, but we’ve finally settled on a location underneath the road. It’s a fairly sheltered spot above an area that we want to irrigate (remember that greywater!) and it’s not far from either of our visitor sleeping spots whilst being far enough from the family living areas to allow both sets of users of the farm their privacy. Distance from the house is something that we can live with as, although we will be using these showers initially, the long term plan is to go wild and put some plumbing in the house.

So here’s the site.

As you can see, work has started already but there’s still much to do before actual building begins.

I’ll keep you posted!

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1 comment to Showered with Good Fortune

  • ginny

    well done on your hard work creating the proposal, and seeing it through with a firm costing. It will make such a difference to the volunteer workers and makes so much sense – how could it not have won?!

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