it´s been a while…

Hello dear family and friends of Mount of Oaks and the White Stone Association,

Apologies for the lack of communication / information in the last few years… Apart from our personal encounters with some of you who live closer, we are aware that our virtual communication with those who are far, has suffered drastically. We are sorry as we are always so grateful for all the support we have been receiving from all of you, and we are aware that we just haven’t communicated that to you for a long while. So, THANK YOU for continuing to journey together nonetheless 🙂 .
As for means of communicating we are more keen lately to keep it on a closed circle through email or face to face, as we´ve also realised how much energy and time consuming it was for us to use all the social media platforms as we were used to. As a result, our web page, facebook pages, instagram pages, etc, have been neglected for at least 2 years :-/ … We are still not sure if we want to re-activate these platforms, but if we do, it will not be regular, and I hope you understand… Life is much more exciting away from a screen 🙂 especially living on a farm :-). Depending less on high-technology is also part of our message 🙂

I would suggest a nice cup, or glass, of your preferred drink and a relaxed time to read this update that ended up longer than expected 🙂 as it happens when communication is not so regular… sorry about that too :-/… it might require 10 more minutes 🙂

OUR DIRECTION THESE LAST YEARS :With all the changes the world has been facing the last couple of years (in what seems to me as at a very high speed), we felt the need to slow down (as most of you probably), and re-think what really matters to us… Where is the Wind blowing us to?  What is that really is calling us?  What is giving life to us, and through us to those around us? Our almost immediate response since March 2020 has been these :

Prayersinginghealing and service to our local community, have been very present and important in our lives and in this place.

Me and Emma are still the main resident guardians (and we finally started to build a house for us last year… whoop whoop)…Since last summer we have had the pleasure to share this responsibility with Ricardo, who is currently living here in a caravan. We get the pleasure to also have Ricardo´s children for a week every fortnight –  Eva, 10 and Amadeu, 3 (nearly 4 he´s very proud to say), and their cat Peachy.
This “molecule” has been working well so far (apart from some cat fights with Peachy who is the new kitty cat in the hood) , and it has been helping us to clarify what we really want and realistically can support in this 5 hectare piece of land…We don’t see more than 2, max 3 resident dwellings.
Something that became clearer as we were slowing down, was that we (me and Emma) really need a private space that is “safe”… And the same will be for any resident, as the work can be quite intense at times. It´s part of looking after ourselves in order to be able to look after others .We are an open house and it can be exhausting when we don´t have clear boundaries or literally a place to “hide” ( says me, the introvert)… Our own house, away from all common spaces, is definitely in response to that, and also the clarity about the amount of residents we would like to see in this land…
We are looking for long term committed residents, willing to share responsibilities, as well as their hearts, willing to contribute with their finances, as well as their working hours, useful skills and willing to serve this land the same way we have been since 2006, with the awareness that we are serving a greater good 🙂
( Note: We are also volunteers contributing monthly with our own personal finances for the running of this place. We are giving of our time to work here and therefore we cannot take on full time jobs. Emma was offered a job this year, so we are for the first time having a wage at the end of each month which is a novelty, and a blessing at the time we will have big expenses to build our house the way we would like :-)… Divine timing :-)Ricardo is in an initial and transitional stage, and he is giving what he can. So, if you feel like supporting him personally, do get in touch and we can share more about this)

WHAT WE ENVISION AT THE MOMENT AT MOO :After 16 years, and with so many different people/ groups passing by, me and Emma feel it is time to call long-term residents to share responsibilities… We´ve been hosting volunteers to come and stay for short periods of time and some even for longer periods…that has been a great help and most of the time a very pleasant experience, but it has been exhausting too at times… We have gladly been sharing our skills and time with those that have passed by, and now we are looking for either already skilled folk or for those who would like to set roots here and share the lead…   Living in  community in such an open “house” has not been easy… Sharing our kitchen, our living room, our leisure places has been a privilege, but also a sacrifice at times… So we felt it was time for us (me and Emma) to call what we really want to see in this place, meeting our personal needs and desires instead of often trying to meet the expectations of those who pass by, above our own… What we aim is to have our own private space  and leave the common spaces  for all those Associates who would like to use them for workshops, events, etc… The residents will take care of general maintenance of land, animals and structures, and develop the general vision.
We envision 2 more dwellings max (and maybe one more is enough), of people who will live permanently and share all responsibilities, and all the benefits, of what it means to be a guardian of this land. After 16 years, and with many more tools and personal skills, I can say that it’s quite manageable at this stage, but it’s much lighter when responsibilities are shared, as there is still lots to do just in maintenance for example, never mind developments… We would like to include more animals in our ecosystem, for example, but we would not do that until we have others to share this huge responsibility. Also, I´m looking forward to having more time for other things apart from land management and building  🙂 .
Ricardo is at the moment in a one year trial, and he is already taking on some of the responsibilities which we are grateful for. He is in temporary housing and after a year, if we are all in agreement and alignment, he could start to build his own dwelling if he´s ready for that, or wait one more year. After that, we will request a clear decision.This is the process we are adopting… There is a long term commitment which enables us to share more responsibility, but we are all still “testing” for at least 2 years to see if it will really work for everyone in the long term. We will see how life unfolds…

Last year we added 2 small plots and a long “wildlife corridor” to the existing land… The “cabeço”, which some of us call it “the eagle rock”, or “the alien rock”, or “E.T” , and the little ruin next to it which is being called by our neighbours as “a capela” / “the chapel”, since I mentioned that was the purpose we envision for it :-)… a small open house of prayer  🙂

The “wildlife corridor”, or “boar land”, was purchased last year with many donations that most of you sent, for which we are very grateful… We were not necessarily looking for more land, and we definitely didn’t need more work, but a series of events led us into buying it, and “it just happened”… All these lands and all life in them are very happy they will not be sprayed with chemicals or plowed anymore 🙂
At the same time we were suddenly approached by other friends who expressed the desire to stay close and have their own plot of land in this valley and cooperate with what is already developed while doing their own thing ( which is what we prefer) …  it  all came as a big wave and it felt at times overwhelming… other times too good to be true 🙂

OTHER VISIONS COMING ALONG…So it started to make even more sense our idea to have our own separate and private space, and live more in a collective where others will have their own separate and private space, and we could share responsibility on taking care, managing and using the common spaces at MoO…This is still maturing and unfolding… next episodes to be developed :-)…

May clarity come to the surface… As I said before, it´s most times too exciting, other times a bit overwhelming … specially when it comes to other people´s expectations, and our tendency to see everyone happy and living up their own calling 🙂 … 

EXTENDED COMMUNITY…Beyond our little valley, there are other small collectives emerging between us and Póvoa de Atalaia, or between us and Alpedrinha, which are the villages closest to us for those who don´t know … it´s all very exciting… Actually, not only here, but all over Fundão area and surroundings… very interesting people with very interesting visions and projects.A stronger sense of community and family also comes along which is very encouraging too.
Another big news, as I mentioned briefly, is that Emma has a full time job this year… She was not even looking for it, but the offer came to her from the City council of Fundão, who recognised her skills in the area and she’s now a “mediator” between the english speaking foreign local community and the local council … She´s pretty much being paid for what she has been doing for years 🙂 … For those who know Emma, it’s not surprising to say that she’s doing much more than that… She has been helping the other migrant groups that are now coming to Fundão too : Asian and Brazilian workers, Afghan, Syrian and Eritrean refugees and as of this week Ukrainians…Prayers and support will be more than welcome. As much as it is part of her calling and passion, it is also quite exhausting to deal with so many different worlds, needs and realities at the same time. 
It has been a massive change and adjustment here in the land too, but I think we are managing it well, and we need to trust that this too is part of a bigger picture that surpasses our understanding 🙂

We are in mid March, so we already have a few great achievements to share, and a few more goals for the rest of the season.
So, we started the year having our new solar system installed which is working superbly so far… Even after all these cloudy days it´s working totally fine… It was a nearly 2000e expense, but definitely worth it . And I´m glad I took the time last year to build a new roof for the panels, perfectly facing south and without big trees in front of it 🙂 We will be able to run a better fridge and even a washing machine, imagine… much progress ahead, we better watch out… Emma is particularly happy with that last part so she doesn´t have to drive her laundry back and forth to Fundão anymore 🙂 I´m more excited that I don´t need to use our generator every time I need to use a power tool 🙂 We all have our preferences… and I will definitely use the washing machine too… I still have to install it though :-/ …

This last month me and Ricardo have been working on final finishes on our common space… A book shelf inside and lime plaster outside with some 3d earth plaster features… even Eva and Amadeu helped with the 3d clay and lime wash 🙂 … I don´t know how many years that has been on my list, but finally the time has come, and it felt very satisfying… 

As I was in the flow and it was just next door I also lime plastered the outside kitchen wall that was still unfinished… very satisfying too 🙂

Me and Ricardo also prepared loads of fire wood for the next year and the Mimosas are quite “under control” already, which is also quite satisfying. We have had a very dry winter which helped as well… But we do hope lots of rain come in spring time 🙂
Apart from a few more Olives, most of the pruning of all our fruit trees is done 🙂 

Our GOALS for the rest of the season– 

fix a few things in our compost toilets and shower house
– extend electrics to the shower house and camping kitchen
– continue the work in our house ( I will run some one or two day workshops in different stages and share it mainly locally as I am resisting getting back to social media for advertisement. If you are interested please send an e.mail in our contact form and I will add you to a mail list). This includes a rocket stove with a cob benchstrawbale wallcob walladobe brickswattle and daub walls, earth floor and lime plasters

– host weekly medicinal singing circles after April

– host Sweat lodge ceremonies 
– host a healing ceremony

– Plant more fruit trees in Autumn 

And I think I must have covered the essential communication from the last couple of years… Pheeeeeew 🙂 Thanks for bearing with me until here.

P.S. – If you are interested in becoming a “White Stone” Associate with a 25e yearly fee, let us know. Thank you in advance.

 Aims of the association:
   The association has the aim of promoting health and personal, social, spiritual and ecological well-being through contact with nature. The association is both multicultural and multilingual.

   Our main goals are:
   * Creation of collaborative spaces to promote social, economic and spiritual well being, local economy initiatives, community gatherings and educational opportunities.
   * Model and educate about the advantages of a ‘simple lifestyle’ and raise awareness of current environmental issues.
   * Promote healthy choices for the consumption and production of local, organic produce.
   * Encourage rural ‘ecological and educational tourism’ in a sustainable manner, respecting the cultural and local resources.
   * Offering accommodation in naturally constructed buildings and basic natural camping facilities.
   * Promote intercultural collaboration 
   What are the benefits of becoming an associate?
   By paying the annual 25E fee you will be able to have discounts on some of Mount of Oaks products and accommodation.    As an Associate, you will be able to use our spaces and structures to host your events, workshops, ideas, at a reduced renting price.   And more importantly you join a family of supporters committed to these ways of being, and you will be supporting us, the residents, and encouraging us to keep doing what we have   been doing. Basically you are participating in what we do with our lives here. Together we can achieve great things.

Barbara(in the name of all beings at MoO)

Mixed Talks: Summer Social

We had a lovely relaxed evening in Fundao on the last night of the Cale/SangriAgosto Street Festival. A bunch of new people who have moved to the area in the recent month came along. We ate, chatted about language, school options for kids, even how to register with a local doctor….the things that people who have just moved to the area have questions about. This was the 4th of these gatherings that have been hosted in Fundao as part of the Inclusion/Integration programme run by the council.

It was also really worthwhile to get to know the team working out of the old Seminary building. Ana Teresa, Andreia and the newest member Nuno Calvario.

The plan is to have another gathering before Christmas, so watch this space for news and the theme.

Successful Natural Building Course

Last week Barbara taught another of her marvellous 8 day Natural Building Courses, at Keela Yoga Farm. The participants were an international bunch from South Africa, Portugal, UK, Italy and Holland. The team learned a variety of techniques and quickly got the chance to get their hands dirty and practice their new knowledge! Straw bale, wattle and daub, cord wood – earth plastering, just some of the variety of skills they learned!

Some of the photos below are from one of the participants – Damien Walsh, the others from Barbara’s phone, so the quality is not the best, but you get the picture (pardon the pun!)

and they sum up the fun, as well as the work that group practiced.

On the day off, mid way through the course, the group came to Mount of Oaks. We prepared a meal, and Barbara gave a tour of our natural buildings. A great way to relax.

I was grateful for the help from Tatum and the girls in preparing for the guests!!

Alexa, Sven, Stephan, John, Damian, Clara and Ugo. WELL DONE!!!!!! We look forward to seeing what you will do with what you gained on this course! Please stay in touch!

Special thanks to Kimberly and Laurence their super hosting at Keela, and for their fantastic volunteers!! The pizza night on the final night was really special.

News and Dates for Natural Building Courses taught by Barbara will be shared in the Autumn.

Summer Gathering

We had a most fun Summer Gathering! If only the pictures could convey the amazing smells of the delicious grilled veggies, or the laughs as we danced and later played music – or making of new friendships and renewing older ones….

Our programme was pretty simple – eat together, play music together and dance together, thanks to our dear friend Ana Teresa teaching us some traditional Portuguese dances!

we were over 45 adults and 15 kids – and representing approximately 9 different nationalities. Truly a beautiful mix of ages and backgrounds living in the area!

Special thanks go to Helen, a volunteer who was with us for 6 weeks this summer – she was such a help in every way. Her bubbly personality and over flowing youthful joy made her a joy to work with and to be around.

Many thanks too to Keri Millard who took the action shots that follow – it is one of her passions and professions. She caught many of us in blissful moments…

Thank you for all of you who came along and supported the project by your presence and your generosity of heart. Recently we read a quote – ‘some of the best memories are made in flip flops’. It made me think of this night and several of us making fools of ourselves and having a right old laugh while dancing in flip flops!

Until the next time…..

Natural Building Courses 2018

We are delighted to announce the dates for the Natural Building Course that Barbara will teach in 2018. 3 exciting course will be located at Keela Yoga Farm.


Dates for the Introduction to Natural Building Courses at Keela Yoga Farm

  • 9 – 16 June
  • 1 – 7 July
  • 4 – 11 August

The courses are designed as an introduction to natural building. Participants have the opportunity to learn and experiment with a variety of different building techniques which will then be used in a practical setting on a real building.

There is a progression in the teaching and practical methods that allow participants to grow in confidence as the course continues. This course is designed with the ‘non-professional’ builder in mind and is aimed as an introduction course.

An introduction to natural building will be facilitated by Barbara Leite; a pioneer of the Mount of Oaks community since 2006. She has over 9 years experience in Permaculture Design and Natural Building, with all the mistakes and successes that go with starting from scratch!

All courses will be held at the off-grid permaculture community Keela Yoga Farm, in Central Portugal. Course participants will have the opportunity to practice daily yoga, meditation and other related activities held on site. A day trip to visit some natural buildings at Mount of Oaks community is also offered on the day off.


Come and learn about:

…Gravel Foundation, french drainage and stem wall with gravel bags


…Strawbale walls


….Adobe bricks and light earth slabs


……Wattle and daub walls


….Cob with glass bottles and cordwood,


……Earth and lime plasters


….Lime-wash painting with natural pigments.

What can you expect from this course? 

  • The course will consist of daily theory classes, with introductions to all of the aforementioned building techniques using local and natural materials (A complete PDF manual will be provided at the time of registration). However, this is predominantly a hands on learning course and it will mostly be practical in order for participants to really get a feel for each material and technique.
  • Participants will gain the ability and skills to design and build their own small natural build.
  • Three meals a day including tea, coffee and snack breaks.
  • Daily Yoga Classes
  • On the day-off, an optional day trip to the Mount of Oaks community will be included in order to see some of their existing natural buildings, have a tour and lunch for an extra cost of 15€/person.

There is no need for any previous experience as a builder, an engineer or an architect. (If you do have previous experience, please come with patience because there might be others who don’t).

We expect to learn with each other and have a unique experience of life within a community setting. During the course we will work together, eat together.

This course is limited to a maximum of 8 students in order for participants to have maximum practical experience throughout the week.

500EUR – 8 day Natural Building course including camping (in your own tent or van), 3 delicious vegetarian meals daily (seasonal and locally sourced) and daily yoga and meditation
450EUR – 3 EARLY BIRD places for the first 3 people to register
Caravans, tents and tepees are also available for hire. Click for options at Keela Yoga Farm for accommodation
Please complete the application form to book.

Course participants will learn a lot of different building techniques, and if you wish to put these into practice and perfect your skills further, you can contact us about staying on after the course as a volunteer at Keela.


Permaculture Experience Programme

We have launched the dates of 5 blocks for the coming year, where folks can come and learn theory and practice the skills needed for off-grid living, informed by permaculture principles.


Dates for the 6 week blocks are:

Block 1: 26th Feb – 8th April

Block 2: 23rd April – 3rd June

Block 3: 25th June – 5th August

Block 4: 27th August – 7th October

Block 5: 15th Oct – 25th November


For the full volunteer pack follow this link to a PDF. There is a description of what you will learn in each block.

During the PEP you will be immersed in learning about sustainable and simple living; practicing skills connected to the garden and the structures; opportunities for consulting the resource library; chances for personal development in the midst of a loving community – and free time to enjoy the interesting walks, avail of the growing network of like-minded people in the area, or simply take a step out of your day to day routine. Our educational philosophy is a mixture of us sharing our knowledge, formally and informally, depending on the task – but we are often about ‘learning by doing’.

You will be required to fill in the application form and the liability form.

Get in touch for if you have any queries after reading the information pack!

We are excited to host these programmes this year!

Autumn Event: Inspired by OLIVES

We woke on the morning of the Autumn Open Event to a most beautiful sky!

Warm open-hearted welcomes as folks arrived…..

A group of over 40 came through out the day – we started with the group who came in the morning to do tours of the land…..

We had a mixed bunch, of people who have visited before, and for others it was their first encounter with the project.

The tours were in English, ‘lead’ by Eric and Emma – and the second in Portuguese with Marcia.

Thanks to the team of angel helpers we had a delicious lunch, with veggies from the garden and inspired by the olive theme and fermented recipies from Dearbhla Reynolds book, ‘Funky Ferments’.

The olive oil tasting was great fun – as we decided upon our favourites…..

Most people had a sure sense of what they ‘didn’t like’. It was amazing that neigbour Nick was ‘spot on’ with his diagnosis!

Then the ‘experts’ gave their feedback…..

We had with us professional organic olive oil producers. Luis Coutinho with his brand ‘Tojeira’ has received much attention for its high quality. Also with us, the engineer Joao Mateus with nearly 20 years experience in working with the Portuguese ministry of agriculture and most recently with Sementes Vivas.

We also had the pleasure of the experience of Miguel Fiadeiro, from the Olive Oil Co-operative in Fundao. Miguel shared and answered questions regarding the differences between the methods of pressing olives, amongst many other things!

Conversations continued about the need for a local organic press, and various solutions were discussed.

After much sharing, we got up and picked olives to demonstrate the method we use for curing our olives. One we learned from our local neighbours over 10 years ago!

As we were harvesting a few olives, out neighbour, Tia Adelina’s son, Antonio came passed – it was his MUM who had such an influence on much of what we know now about olives! It was a lovely moment.

Back in the common space, Marica demonstrated the curing process, and the knowledgeable Sr. Eduardo gave some great and easy tips.

The rest of the afternoon we carried on sharing about olive oil production and best practices while enjoying each other’s company!

We had the delight of having Stefan and Bettina of Sementes Vivas with us. They too have been promoting organic and biodynamic production of olive oil. They shared about an upcoming conference on the theme of ‘New Ruralism’. They are bringing together many of the best-known names in the world of rural development and sustainable construction. The link to the conference can be found by clicking on ‘events’ from here

Thank you to all who came and participated, shared knowledge or bought our olive oil inspired products!

Until next year….!

Chocalhos: music and laughter

The festival of Chocalhos in our neighbouring village of Alpedrinha was again this year full of wonderful surprises.

From 15-17th Sept the village came alive with traditional music associated with the pastoral past and present.

People travelled from all over Portugal to enjoy the activities, food, music and dancing.

For the last number of years the Chocalhos, which celebrates the traditional shepherding ways in the region, has twinned with another region in Europe which still has strong links with sheep and goats. This year the region was Extremadura – so the Spanish over the border brought their delicious cheese and local products.

There was a beautiful family feeling in the village. With singing, people eating and chatting together and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Our super team of volunteers, Kirsty (South Africa), Julia, Henrike and Thomas (Germany) along with Marica’s mum Camilla co-ordinated the stall for the duration of the weekend. Eric and Thomas stayed up until late and the girls did the day shifts!

One of the highlights for Eric of the weekend were the conversations that he had at the stall with Portuguese people who had come from the cities to visit the area. He encountered many from Lisbon and Porto who were delighted to experience as sense of community, celebration and simplicity on the streets of the village.

A group friends had travelled from Lisbon and Porto, organised by our friend Duarte, camped at the Mount of Oaks. They took part in the nightlife and the walk from Fundao to Alpedrinha with the sheep and shepherds on the Sunday.

Above is a picture of Duarte and friends as they were handed a few musical instruments and they gratefully created a tune!

Friday and Saturday nights bands took to the street, at every corner of the tiny cobbled streets groups playing drums or bagpipes were found! It is hard not to dance to this music!!

In the week before Chocalhos we had the pleasure of hosting Nuno and Luisa from the Lisbon area – this amazing couple were on a camping holiday with us, and yet helped in many ways, for example tackling an area of brambles next to one of the stone walls.

On the Sunday there is typically a walk from Fundao to Alpedrinha along the old Roman road. People process after the sheep and shepherds. When they arrive in the village they are blessed by the local priest. Here they are arriving to the cheering of the onlookers!

One of the low-lights this year was that there were less local people out in the celebration than normal. We put this down to the fact it was difficult for people from the area to celebrate when so much had been lost this year due to the fires in the mountain behind the village. There was a sadness too at one of the oldest shepherds, 91 1/2 year old Antonio Lopes from the village passing away, the father of Antonio Lopes, our dear friend.

However, despite the lower numbers for the festival in general, the Home Grown Market on the Sunday, after the sheep walk was VERY well attended – and a huge success.

Many thanks for the success of this goes to Francisco from Ananda Marga – he has been working on the promotion of the local organic markets for months. This was the first to take place in the public space in Alpedrinha, after discussions with local producers and the local authorities.

We look forward to next year’s Chocalhos festival. If you would like to stay at Mount of Oaks for that weekend, remember – Chocalhos normally takes place the 3rd weekend of September every year. Options for associates are camping or booking the straw bale guest house.