Courses at the quinta

The fires of October 2017 which destroyed all of our guest and volunteer accommodation and facilities brought the focus very clearly onto the urgency of our present global situation and the need to dramatically improve eco-literacy. Since then, we have been working like crazy to restore buildings and infrastructure and get the quinta into a fit state to function as an environmental education centre.

The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of responsibility to life. If we become extinct because of factors beyond our control, then we can at least die with pride in ourselves, but to create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claims to consciousness and morality.
Bill Mollison

In 2019, we created a 6 week programme of back-to-back courses during June and July.

We were delighted to hook up with with Circle Permaculture to offer a full 72-hour certificated Permaculture Design Course endorsed by the Permaculture Association UK. The course was a great success and will become a semi-annual event from 2020.

Students on the Permaculture Design Certificate course making compost

Immediately before the PDC, there was a week-long Foraging & Fermentation course, bringing in our local wild edible specialists.

Cooking up foraged food on the Foraging & Fermentation course

Following the PDC there was a week-long Post-PDC Practical Course to cement and ground some of that prodigious amount of theory.

Mixing cob during the Post-PDC Practical

Then there was a 2-week long Natural Build-in to construct a new vermicomposting toilet at the quinta, culminating in a one-day Vermicomposting Toilet workshop to commission the sanitation system.

These courses were simply and fundamentally motivated by our need to reconnect with Nature and harmonise ourselves with natural processes. So as well as providing education about natural systems, we worked in natural ways, using self-organisation and feedback loops as our defining framework to retune our ways of thinking as well as our skills and knowledge.

Food is mostly organic and in season, sourced from the quinta and local growes

Although the courses are finished for this current year, it was such a brilliant and encouraging start to the quinta's career, we're already planning next year's programme. Keep an eye on this page or sign up for our newsletter below if you're interested in joining us.

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Natural Build-in 2019

July 14 - July 28

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.


If you are making a booking for a couple, family or group, please list the names, ages if under 18, and dietary preferences if staying at Quinta do Vale


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

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