Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Courses at the quinta

Government restrictions on free movement and assembly put in place in response to CoViD-19 have very regrettably meant we had to cancel all our courses in 2020, some quite literally only at the last minute.

After 2019’s great start to the quinta’s career as an education centre and its ongoing recovery from the 2017 wildfires, this has been quite a considerable blow, not least in the resources invested in preparing for courses which could not then take place.

For 2021, we have plans to resume our programme of Permaculture Design Certificate courses in partnership with Circle Permaculture, as well as a rocket mass heater build and more natural building and vermicomposting toilet workshops, but at this stage they can only be tentative.

Students on the Permaculture Design Certificate course making compost

Keep an eye on this page for further developments or sign up for our newsletter below if you're interested in joining us.

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Natural Build-in 2019

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July 14, 2019 - July 28, 2019

Quinta do Vale is hosting a NATURAL BUILD-IN during July 2019.

This is a natural building collaboration as much as a course. It’s conceived as a learning experience which not only gives you some natural building knowledge and skills, but also immerses you (albeit temporarily) in our local, largely off-grid community to get a taste of how we all work together.

The primary focus of the natural build-in is to construct another compost toilet for the quinta, using a timber frame construction (timber sourced onsite), green roof and various natural walling techniques. We will also install the vermicomposting flush toilet system pioneered here at Quinta do Vale and now approved for use by the local municipality.

The natural build-in runs between July 14th and 28th 2019 in weekly blocks. You can attend one or both blocks. On the final day of the build-in we will be running a one-day workshop to learn about and commission the vermicomposting toilet system. This is included in the course for those attending the second week. (Please book separately for the workshop if that’s all you’re interested in attending.)

Filling worm tanks at a vermicomposting toilet workshop at Terra Alta, Sintra

Filling worm tanks at a vermicomposting toilet workshop at Terra Alta, Sintra

We build Monday to Friday. Weekends are kept free for arrivals and departures and for exploring the area or enjoying the many other events and activities which go on here throughout the summer.

Families are welcome – our local natural education project, Folha Verde, have an open month in July and children aged 6 and over can join in the project’s activities.

Children from our local community education project, Folha Verde

Some of Folha Verde’s children enjoying the river at the project’s premises

Members of the local community are also likely to join in from time to time with a community workday or just coming by to lend a hand.

Young people 12-18 years are welcome to join in the build-in with parental/guardian supervision. Under 12s can get involved on the periphery with messy fun things like mixing clay slip.

Vermicomposting toilet workshop

Teaching a vermicomposting toilet workshop


Accommodation will be onsite camping at Quinta do Vale.

There is one 4-berth caravan, suitable for a couple, a few friends or a family.

2 campervans can be accommodated. Spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. One pitch has solar electricity and water, the other doesn’t.

Otherwise please bring a tent. We have level, purpose-built pitches.

Three meals a day are provided, mostly organic. There will be fresh food in season from the quinta and other local organic producers, dried staples from our local wholefood coop, and the remainder from local markets. We will share the cooking. All diets can be catered for. Please make your food preferences clear at the time of booking.

We have hot (solar-heated) showers and composting toilets. There is abundant off grid electricity for phone/tablet/laptop charging and course participants have the use of refrigeration/kitchen facilities/laundry plus the social/hang out space in the communal building and any evening activities (movies, etc) we might put on.

For more details about the quinta and the immediate area, see the quinta page and the volunteering page.

At the end of the day, you can swim and relax at the river beach in the village below the quinta, take advantage of the free wifi at the open air café nearby, explore the area, meet the locals and other eco-residents, get involved in Benfeita events and generally experience life off grid in a still-beautiful mountain landscape, even though it was decimated by fires in October 2017.

What to bring

  • comfortable clothes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • sturdy shoes
  • a swimsuit for the nearby river beach
  • tent (if camping), bedding and sleeping bag
  • flashlight/torch
  • ecological body care products
  • note book and pens/pencils
  • musical instruments!


Costs per adult for the natural build-in, accommodation and meals are 296€ per person per week. Young people 12-18 years are half price. Adults not participating in the build-in pay 146€ and 12-18s half price again. Under 12s are free.

The caravan can be booked for an additional 50€ per adult per week with 12-18 year-olds half rate and under 12s free. It’s available for a maximum of 4 people (excluding infants who don’t require a separate bed) booking together. Bedding is not supplied.

Exceptionally, we may be able to fit you in if you’re unable to attend for full week(s). The part weeks will be calculated on daily rates, depending on whether they’re building days or weekends. Email for more details.

Local participants

If you’re local and don’t need accommodation, then costs for the natural build-in are 150€ per person per week. Meals (lunch only) are an additional 25€ or you can bring a packed lunch. Young people 12-18 years are half price.

Folha Verde

Children aged 6 and over wanting to join in Folha Verde’s activities can do so Monday to Wednesday 09h00 to 15h30 for a price of 30€ per child per week, payable directly to Folha Verde. They will need to bring a packed lunch.

Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale

The old lagar (olive mill), Folha Verde’s premises

There is a 10% non-refundable deposit payable at the time of booking to secure your place. Once your booking form has been received, we’ll email you further details. The balance will be due one month before your arrival, or immediately if booking less than a month away.

I make learning opportunities and the facilities at the quinta available in good faith, but at your own risk. Accidents happen so please make sure you have adequate and appropriate health and travel insurance and are covered against injury to others as well as yourself.

The steep slopes, narrow steps, unguarded ponds and terrace edges can make the quinta a hazardous place for very young children unused to this environment, so please be aware of and prepared for this if you want to bring young children.


Please see the Getting here page.

If you would like to be collected from the nearest long-distance bus stop at Catraia de Mouronho, which is half an hour’s distance from the quinta, we ask for a contribution of 15€ per journey. Please check the option on the booking form below.




Quinta do Vale
Benfeita, Coimbra 3305-031 Portugal + Google Map

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