Three years ago we planned to give it all up and start a sustainable yoga community in Portugal. We moved onto the land we bought less than two months ago along with 6 pioneer volunteers who offered to come and help us set up, in exchange for food, yoga and meditation.
In January 2017 when we arrived on the land it was bitterly cold at night, raining during the day, and the volunteers were staying in tents. Two of them didn’t last long, but the rest were happy no matter what mother nature threw at them. Kimberly worked hard in the kitchen to provide amazing food to keep spirits up and at least the yoga room was nice and warm for our daily practice!
On the first day all of the volunteers chose camping spots to set up tents. Everyone worked hard together to clear paths to their spots, levelling the ground and making look out points to watch the sunrise from their new homes. We really do have the most magical campsite I have ever been to, all at the creation of the volunteers.
Everyone here told us that everything will take longer than planned and generally they have been right, but when you have a great group of people who are motivated it is amazing how much can be done in such a short amount of time. Our focus for the past two months has been on improving facilities and starting to grow food.
The main stone house is a ruin and at the start we were eating in a small cold room with no doors or windows and just a small fire. We have now knocked down the walls, had a new mezzanine floor built in, had windows and doors put in, and now we have a large community building with a kitchen, pantry, mezzanine chill out room and dining room. We also have a big workshop and of course the yoga building.
Enjoying lunch in the January sun!
Although we have 45 acres of magical land, we really lacked outdoor space that was protected from sun or rain. One of our neighbours gave us his old roof as he had his roof replaced. This consisted of strong hard timber which Ortwin turned into a huge undercover outdoor space for us. It is tiled with second hand tiles that we sourced nearby, and is a true up-cycled project. We will use this space for our Eco washing machine, outdoor sink, wood fired water heater and shower room. We have been so impressed by the pioneer volunteers taking on these projects and building things for the first time.
Upside down yoga in our yoga room
In our food forest we have planted lots of vegetables into beds to try and pack every bit of soil with edibles. Although we have a lot of space we are focusing on intensive planting in a small area so it is easier to manage and irrigate. Each season we will expand the food forests and growing gardens.
As part of our community outreach programme we are visiting different farms each Wednesday to lend a helping hand wherever they need it in exchange for new knowledge, a tour of their farm and lunch. This gives us time off from our farm and surroundings and an insight into what other people are doing on their land. Everyone seems to be enjoying this weekly trip out so we will definitely keep it on the agenda. So far we have been to a friend’s cheese farm to learn about making and maintaining fencing and making cheese, a local permaculture farm to help with mimosa tree clearing, a friend’s sheep farm to move manure and help with gardening, and a friend’s small holding as they needed help with the clay rendering of their kitchen. Each week we learn valuable new skills and get to see our friends which makes us happy! After this we go back to Keela for a community cook, bonfire and bread making in the outdoor stone oven and enjoy some wine and music together.
It has been an amazing past two months and we no longer need to rent the house in the village for cooking and hot showers as we are now full time on the land with a waterfall and a solar shower to keep us clean.
If you want to come and volunteer please do get in touch, click here for more information