Permaculturing in Portugal

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

Natural Build-in 2019

Quinta do Vale is partnering with our local community natural education project, Folha Verde, to host a NATURAL BUILD-IN during July 2019..

This is a natural building course, but with a difference. 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 collaborate on a community project.

Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale and Folha Verde

Inside the old lagar (olive mill), Folha Verde’s premises

Here’s how it works …

The natural build-in runs between July 7th and 28th 2019 in weekly blocks. You can attend as many blocks as you like. You can also stay on after the Permaculture Design Course which runs at Quinta do Vale from June 23rd to July 7th.

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 – Folha Verde have an open month in July and children aged 6 and over can join in the project’s activities.

We’ll use the same Agile Learning System we use in our community education project as the framework for the build-in. If you’re not already familiar with this system for managing and developing workflow, it’s essentially codified biomimicry. It takes the natural way people self-organise and self-manage to achieve an objective and ensures it’s fully participatory, supportive and successful. We document our progress through daily feedback cycles, self-assessing our progress towards our goals. Learning becomes effortless, empowering, and fun. Gaps in knowledge and understanding are instantly identified and filled. Projects are developed effectively through full participation of everyone in the team. It’s a cooperative collaboration instead of a traditional hierarchical student-teacher relationship.

Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale and Folha Verde

The old lagar (olive mill), Folha Verde’s premises

The primary focus of the natural build-in is to construct two adjoining compost toilets for Folha Verde, using a timber frame construction with a light clay straw infill, green roof and various natural plastering techniques. We will also install the vermicomposting flush toilet system pioneered at Quinta do Vale and now approved for use by the local municipality.

Members of the local community are also likely to join in at appropriate stages with a community workday or just coming by to lend a hand.

It’s equally possible that more ideas will materialise out of the fertile ground that is a bunch of people enjoying building together, so expect the unexpected and be prepared to contribute to spontaneous creations as well as programmed activities!

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.

Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale and Folha Verde

Working on Folha Verde’s premises


There are two options for accommodation. Camping at Quinta do Vale with all facilities and meals or alternatively a self-catering option onsite at Folha Verde.

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 (which is on the way to and from Folha Verde), 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.

Folha Verde

A self-catering option to camp onsite at Folha Verde is also available. It would be particularly suitable for families with younger children as it avoids the daily challenge of moving young children to and from the quinta and is a flat riverside site considerably less hazardous than the quinta’s mountainside terraces. Much less stress all round! There is a dry composting toilet and a basic outdoor kitchen, a river to swim in and limited electricity for charging phones.

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!
Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale and Folha Verde

Some of Folha Verde’s children enjoying the river at the lagar


Quinta do Vale

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.

Folha Verde

Costs per adult for the natural build-in and self-catering accommodation are 185€ per person per week. Young people 12-18 years are half price. Adults not participating in the build-in pay 35€ per week and 12-18s half of that. Under 12s are free.

Local participants

If you’re local and don’t need accommodation at either Quinta do Vale or Folha Verde, then costs for the natural build-in are 150€ per person per week. Young people 12-18 years are half price.

If all of the above is a bit confusing, this table hopefully makes more sense of it.

Natural Build-in course fee structure

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.

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.

Natural build-in with Quinta do Vale and Folha Verde

The old lagar (olive mill), Folha Verde’s premises

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, ages if under 18, and dietary preferences if staying at Quinta do Vale

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