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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Post-PDC Practical Course 2019

July 7 - July 14

A PDC (Permaculture Design Course) is mainly the theory. The foundation. And although the course features daily practical sessions, it doesn’t pretend to equip people with the full range of skills they’ll need to implement permaculture designs. Enter the POST-PDC PRACTICAL! Whilst all this knowledge is fresh in your mind and bursting to find an outlet, this is a chance to put it into practice with support and supervision and gain the confidence to go out there and do great things.

A PDC is a powerful and comprehensive introduction to the workings of natural systems, the necessity to work with nature rather than against it, how to design for regeneration, and the importance of designing to context in a holistic, whole systems way, stacking functions, building in resilience and reconceptualising linear ‘production lines’ into circular self-maintaining systems. It covers every climate on the planet and every regenerative agricultural technique known to man. But sometimes permaculture graduates without a background of working on the land can end up feeling paralysed, not knowing where to start, or end up taking a second or third PDC in an attempt to find what they’re missing. This course aims to help ease people into feeling comfortable with designing with Nature.

The Post-PDC Practical course is open to all participants in this year’s PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE which we’re running at the quinta in partnership with Circle Permaculture from June 23rd to July 7th. It’s also open to anyone else who’s taken a PDC and wants to benefit from some hands-on experience in a supportive environment.

Permaculture Design Practical Course at Quinta do Vale

The Post-PDC Practical runs from July 7th to 14th 2019, though the possibility exists to stay on longer if you really want to get stuck in. It follows on immediately after the Permaculture Design Course which runs at Quinta do Vale from June 23rd to July 7th.

The quinta is still very much a work in progress. Many areas have not been developed to their full extent yet. Others were badly fire-damaged so we’re as good as back to square one with them. The design exercises for the PDC will all be based on these parts of the quinta. At the end of the course, following the presentation of the designs, all of us present – the students, facilitators and volunteers – will vote on which we think is the best design to be implemented for this course. That very specific criterion ensures we run with a design which can be completed within the week.

We work 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.

Permaculture Design Practical Course at Quinta do Vale

The makings of a swale path

I will provide guidance, support and supervision for the implementation of the design, but in a low key, hands-off manner. This means you have considerable freedom to work things out between you as a group, and I’ll only intervene to give feedback, listen to any problems, and give guidance as necessary. This is very much your project and I am very happy to put my beloved land in your hands so it can work its magic on you and you, in turn, on it!

The aim of this course is for you to go away with the skills, confidence, and growing sense of reconnection necessary to make a valuable contribution to any regenerative project.

Permaculture Design Post-PDC Practical Course at Quinta do Vale


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!
Post-PDC Practical Course at Quinta do Vale


Costs per adult camping onsite for the post-PDC practical, accommodation and meals are 226€ per person. If you have a young person 12-18 years who’s taken a PDC and also wants to join in, they can do so with parental/guardian supervision and will be charged half price.

Accompanying adults not taking part in the course but staying onsite are 146€ per person. Under 12s stay free.

The caravan can be booked for an additional 50€ per adult 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.

There is a 10% non-refundable deposit payable at the time of booking to secure your place. Once your booking form is submitted, we’ll email you further details and your place will be confirmed when your deposit is received. The balance will be due one month before your arrival.

Water retention landscaping at Quinta do Vale

Building ponds

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 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 (and ages if under 18) and dietary preferences of the other members of your party


Quinta do Vale


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

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