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We were to be offering short-stay immersion courses in off grid living here at Quinta do Vale from 2018. Unfortunately the fires of October 2017 put paid to that. All of our guest and volunteer accommodation and facilities were destroyed. Until we’ve restored some of our capacity to host people here, courses will not be offered in the form described below.

But having to make repairs to our buildings and infrastructure gives us the opportunity to turn it into a learning opportunity for others, so we are opening our doors in 2018 regardless and welcoming people to the quinta to help us rebuild. If you’re interested in getting involved, please see the courses and workshops planned for this year or the the Volunteering page.

For 2019, we’re delighted and excited to partner with Circle Permaculture to offer a full 72-hour certificated Permaculture Design Course endorsed by the Permaculture Association UK. The intention is for it to become an annual event.

I’ve left the description of the residential courses intact below because the plan is to get back on track with this just as soon as we’re able.

If you feel moved to help us along the way, please see the Support us page.

“‘To malama ‘ãina’ is to take care of the Earth that feeds us. The minute we lose sight of that, we have signed our own ‘palapala make’ – our death warrant.”
Sabra Kauka, Hawai’ian traditional storyteller

If available free time is your main problem when it comes to picking up the knowledge and skills you need to transition to the off-grid, beyond-sustainable way of life you’re aiming for, our short, broad-based, intensive immersion courses could be just what you’re looking for.

Stay for one week or two. You can simply soak up everything we have to offer and let us determine the programme, or work with us in advance to tailor your programme to cover particular areas which are more important to you in more depth. The only difference between the 7 and 14-day programmes is the depth and detail it’s possible to go into.

Learn about …

  • specifying and setting up small solar and hydro systems
  • various composting toilet options
  • creating your own water supply, rainwater harvesting, and designing grey water systems
  • water heating with sun and wood
  • natural building
  • building soil fertility and the particulars of growing in this climate
  • foraging and preserving
  • cooking exclusively on wood-fired stoves and ovens …

In short, about anything and everything that’s featured on this website. All subjects will be taught with reference to real working examples and a comprehensive list of resources provided so you can take your studies further when you leave here.

Work with us, eat with us, pick our brains as much as you like.

And because Quinta do Vale is part of a wider off-grid community of people with a great diversity of skills, we’ve partnered with some of our friends and neighbours to give you a wider range of choice and experience in some of the areas you might like to concentrate your learning.

Some of the specialist options you can choose from will include …

  • building an axial flux alternator for hydro or wind power
  • setting up a worm composting system for household sewerage
  • masonry stove design and construction
  • solar water heating
  • traditional timber-framing
  • cob construction
  • dry-stone wall and terrace building
  • permaculture design
  • passive solar greenhouse design
  • brewing, winemaking and distilling
Courses at Quinta do Vale

Courses at Quinta do Vale

We take a relatively unstructured, conversational and even slightly chaotic approach to teaching, as research repeatedly shows it’s how humans learn best. Learning is more effective when it’s easy and almost unconscious, and more well-rounded when you approach a subject from a variety of angles, so we can take whatever emerges and follow it to its natural conclusion, something that’s difficult to accommodate in more formal settings.

There’s a balance to be struck between tuition, observation and practical hands-on doing, but whatever the balance, and whether we define that in advance or work it out as we go, you’re guaranteed our exclusive attention for a minimum of 3 hours a day to learn about whatever you’re interested in in the way that works best for you.

By separate arrangement, you can tour other off grid projects in the area, receive personal one-to-one tuition from local specialists in various aspects of off grid technology, growing or building, or take a course at our local craft workshop.

When you’re not busy actively learning, you can relax and get in tune with the more natural rhythms of an off grid life – no less valuable in preparing you for the transition.

Walk down the mountain to the river beach and café in the nearest village to cool off on a hot summer’s day and meet the locals. Hike the Caminho do Xisto (Schist Trail) to the waterfalls of Fraga da Pena or the indigenous forest reserve of Mata da Margaraça and study the diversity of land use and flora and fauna in these valleys on the way.

Meet the wider eco-immigrant community at one of the regular monthly markets in the area, or at the get-togethers and community exchange markets centred around the craft workshop and shop in the village and learn about other regenerative community initiatives in the area.

These courses are designed to give you a solid and broad-based foundation on which to build your transition to regenerative living.

While nothing can come close to the experience of actually doing it yourself, there’s a world of difference between being well prepared and unprepared, not least in avoiding costly mistakes, unnecessary stress and fundamental blunders which can compromise the success of your entire project. We can help set you firmly on your feet when you’re finding it hard to know where to begin, build on what you’ve already learned, and widen your knowledge base to cover all the relevant systems you’ll need to consider.

We’ve all been through this ourselves and mostly learned the hard way.

More details will be published here as we come closer to opening our doors for people to come and stay here. If you would like to register your initial interest, you will be given first choice of dates as soon as we do.

Sign up for our courses newsletter if you’d like to be kept informed about what’s going on at the quinta.

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