The catastrophic wildfires which swept through a vast area – over 2,000 square kilometers – of Central and Northern Portugal in just 24 hours of October 15-16 2017 cut off these valleys and burnt everything in sight, including the quinta. In these valleys alone, 22 families and individuals lost their homes. Two people in the village of Cerdeira lost their lives.

We were lucky enough not to lose the main communal building and yurt, but the wee house, geodome greenhouse and all the volunteer/course participant accommodation and facilities were destroyed.

So I’m throwing the whole volunteering/learning thing wide open for 2018.

  • If you want to just rock up, take a tour, and stay a couple of nights, you’re welcome.
  • If you’re just looking for a park-up while you do other things in the area, you’re welcome.
  • If you want to stay from a week to a month or two, trade some work and learn everything you can, you’re welcome.
  • If you’re particularly interested in doing some natural building repairs and reconstruction, you’re welcome.
  • If you have DIY skills or a trade and fancy coming to spend a summer helping us and the rest of the community, you’re welcome and we will all love you forever.
  • If you want to come and download all the accumulated knowledge and experience that’s in my head from nearly a decade living off grid, you’re welcome to do that too.

Anything and everything will be considered. Please email in the first instance.

You’ll need to provide your own accommodation and food. There are working toilets, an off grid power supply and hot showers (water supplies and the rebuilding of the bathroom permitting) all in working order. By summer I hope to have some cooking facilities set up. When it gets warm enough, I have some donated tents for accommodation.

All I ask in return is that you treat the place tenderly while it recovers from its wounds and trade what you think your stay is worth, either in work or in funds to help us rebuild.

The community here is still struggling to get back on its feet and come to terms with our losses. It’s a bit like a war zone here. As we go forward into summer, there is a possibility of water shortages.

Nevertheless, good things are happening. Lots of community self-help initiatives and people coming together to help and support each other and the devastated environment. Volunteering here at this time is certainly not your usual type of volunteering, but you will have the opportunity to be part of something very special.

I’ve scrubbed this page clean except for details on the locality and a few photos which provide a flavour of what working at Quinta do Vale has been all about. We’ve had some brilliant people stay here over the years. Some of them loved it so much they never left and now have their own places in the valleys, so be warned – this place can capture your heart and your imagination.

If you can’t come and visit but feel moved to help us get our facilities back together again, please see the Support us page.

What remains of the wee house at Quinta do Vale

What remains of our volunteer accommodation and facilities


Find us on HelpX


Volunteering at Quinta do Vale

Volunteering at Quinta do Vale

4-berth caravan

The 4-berth caravan … with appendages

Lime pointing schist walls on a community workday

Lime pointing a schist wall on a community workday

Local facilities

Benfeita village shop, which stocks a reasonable range of basics, is 500m away down the hill from the quinta. There’s also a post office (mornings only) and café, and a craftworkers’ cooperative with a workshop and shop. The butcher’s is open on Wednesdays. There’s a number of van deliveries: two daily bread vans, weekly fish and vegetables, and monthly frozen food, though catching any of them is mostly a matter of luck or ESP.

There are also two village shops/cafés in the village of Luadas, 100m above the quinta and around 2-3 times the walking distance.

Partying

Mobile phone signal here is good to reasonable, depending on your network. Portugal Telecom’s MEO network has the best coverage. Vodafone is patchy to poor. If your network doesn’t work here, you’ll get a signal in Luadas.

In summer, the outdoor café by the river beach in Benfeita has free wifi. The café/restaurant in Pardieiros, the next village along from Benfeita, has free wifi year round.

If you don’t have your own laptop/tablet/smartphone, free computers with internet access are available for use at Côja library 8km away.

There’s a lively social scene in summer revolving around the river beach, craft cooperative and local cafés. There’s lots of music, local markets, events, workshops, parties and lots of opportunities to meet locals and other eco-immigrants.

There were great walks to take in the surrounding hills and valleys. There will be again.

The Caminho de Xisto

The Caminho do Xisto da Benfeita

Benfeita river beach

Benfeita river beach and café

Benfeita river beach

Swimming

Local swimming spots

Swimming

Festa

Festa time