Permaculturing in Portugal

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


Government restrictions on free movement and assembly put in place in response to CoViD-19 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 are resuming (circumstances permitting) our programme of Permaculture Design Certificate courses in partnership with Circle Permaculture. We've chosen July and August as being the months most likely to feature the least restrictions. July's PDC currently has just 2 places remaining and August’s only 3. Catch us while you can!.

We also hope to organise a rocket mass heater build and more natural building and vermicomposting toilet workshops, but for the moment are adopting a stance of watching and waiting to see how events unfold.

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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Post-PDC Practical Course July 2021

July 18 - July 25

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 COURSE!

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.

Permaculture Design Practical Course at Quinta do Vale

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.

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.

The Post-PDC Practical runs from July 18th to 25th 2021, 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 July 4th to 18th.

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 be based on some of these parts of the quinta. At the end of the course, following the presentation of the designs, all of us – the students, facilitators and volunteers – will vote on which we think is the best design or part of a design to be implemented for this course. That very specific criterion ensures we run with a design which everyone is enthusiastic about and 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 mostly low key, hands-off manner unless the choice involves tuition in a specific technique, eg. natural building. 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 caravan, suitable for a couple, or 2-3 friends.

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. Most 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 free wifi. 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 250€ 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 150€ per person.

We don’t recommend this course for families with children under 12. Kids might love it here, but the number of hazardous drops off the edges of terrace walls, precipitous and slippery steps, steep slopes, unfenced ponds and waterways, sharp tools in use, etc, means you can’t keep your eyes off them for one second. A constant state of high alert doesn’t make for an easy or relaxed atmosphere for you, for me, or for anyone else (including our long-suffering animals) and is hugely distracting from the tasks at hand. We’ve tried it and I’m sorry but it just doesn’t work.

The caravan can be booked for an additional 50€ per adult with 12-18 year-olds half rate. It’s available for a maximum of 3 people booking together. Bedding is not supplied.

There is a 10% non-refundable deposit per person 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

Please note that 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.


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 drive from the quinta, we ask for a contribution of 15€ per journey. Please check the option on the booking form below.


Sign up to our mailing list if you'd like to be kept informed about upcoming courses at the quinta. (You can also elect to receive occasional newsletters about volunteering opportunities if you're interested, although please note you can apply to volunteer at any time.)


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