Off-Grid Permaculture Apprenticeship … in a monastic rhythm

Mount of Oaks (MoO) is opening for applications for those who feel called to be part of our “Permaculture Off-Grid Apprenticeship” in 2023.

This idea has developed out of our own experience since 2006, hosting hundreds of guests, friends, volunteers and family.

We live in times when many people are seeking connection, and ironically, with so many developed technologies, social media and internet, people in “western world” seem to be the most disconnected… from each other, from God, from Nature and ultimately from themselves.

There is a lot of mistrust in many areas, in Governments, in education, in leaders, in health, in religions, and even within families.

What we have been realising, and the feed-back we have been receiving, is that life at Mount of Oaks has changed many people´s lives … thankfully for the better 🙂

Some got confident to move out of the city they were not happy in and started new lives in more quiet rural areas;

Some were already on a transition, but lacked some essential skills to have a good start, so they learned a lot here;

Some found here their passion for plants, for trees, for regenerating and building healthy soils, for producing food and build more sustainable houses with local materials;

Some got inspired, others encouraged by the hope this place brings, showing a way of living where is possible to find more balance with Nature, as well as more connection to Spirit ;

Some were reminded to rest and stop, and simply enjoy each moment, taking that reminder into their everyday lives;

Some found Home and Family, and they keep coming back;

For some was not easy, but it surely made them and us stronger, wiser and even more forgiving than before.

It is not easy to live in community so close to each other on a daily basis… we usually face the “not so good” parts of ourselves… and it is part of the experience as well – to love ourselves, forgive ourselves and accept how we are at any given moment.

MoO is at the moment a home for two women, Barbara and Emma, the guardians who have been living here since 2006 and 2011 respectively. We have experienced community living (here and before coming here) in many different ways and the way we choose to do things today, is the way we found it works best for us.

We have learned the hard way to put clear boundaries to protect ourselves and our relationship and we will try to be and encourage one another to be as clear as possible about each ones boundaries. An essencial skill that we continuously learn in life in community with others. We are in transition still, in the process of building our own private spaces, and having more privacy.

We lived in a bus for the last 11 years, with some privacy, but not quite retreated, no personal toilet, or shower or kitchen, so we use the common spaces we share with all we host… which means sometimes it is a stretch when we host people in our house 24/7. We would appreciate everyone´s mindfulness of this reality :-)… for that we are already thankful 🙂

It is quite intensive to welcome strangers (who mostly become friends) in our home on a daily basis… we need to find a balance between our time for ourselves, for our relationships, for our local family and friends, to give to all those we host as well as resting and replenish our own energies, our own physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Barbara loves doing as much as she can with her own hands and she loves finding solutions… she loves teaching and passing on the many skills she has aquired in her 48 years of life… she is a Permaculture design teacher as well as a Natural building teacher, passionate for trees, wild life, regenerating land and encouraging others to live more sustainably. She is very introvert at times and loves being on her own, but her calling is also to create and encourage community spaces and encounters 🙂

Emma is almost 44, she loves people and often finds the best they have inside… she has the biggest heart I have ever known 🙂 if she could, she would help everyone in need 🙂 … She loves plants and makes the most amazing wild salads… she loves healing plants, prapagating them everywhere or transforming them into oils, tinctures and teas… She´s a fermentalist freak and loves transforming our produce into delicious food, and her kombucha scobies into delicious and healthy drinks. (she has put that aside for a while to work with the migrant community in Fundão, but she is coming back)

Living at Mount of Oaks you will naturally see and experience our many DIY, off-grid and sustainable solutions in a permaculture designed farm already with many systems implemented. There is much more that can be done and designed in our 5 hectare piece of land, but we already have a lot :

– different designs of dry compost toilets; many different natural building techniques (wattle and daub, strawbale, earthbags, cordwood, thatch roof with broom, earth and lime plasters, tadelakt, post and beam structures, adobe bricks, cob, simple carpentry, and efficient use of cement too) ; Rain water collection, diy sand filter for water, irrigation by gravity with efficient use of a simple locally built petrol pump; a 24v photovoltaic energy system and instalation (quite professionally installed by a local friend); sewage systems; worm farm; chickens; Hot water from solar or fire, and even sauna; Many productive raised beds, food forests on the go and different working guilds and companion planting.

I (Barbara) have been focusing a lot on all the buildings we need for storage or to host guests and events, and now I want to upscale our food production, propagating even more the plants we already have, planting more trees, introducing more animals in the system, and even design sustainable pastures to set an example to the many sheep farms around us. Our soil is so much fertile after years of “letting be”, “chopping and dropping” and introducing species and animals to help. It´s definitely way much easier now to plant trees than it was 16 years ago.

We are inviting those who feel called to come for 3 or 6 months to live with us and this land, bringing their creativity, love, service and working hands.

We´ve realised that people are more motivated and end up growing more as humans when they are given responsibilities (in the possible areas identified by us), more than just doing what they are told to do ( Obviously as apprentices, and for those with less experience, this might be a good start, and it´s also very welcomed )

With this in mind, as there is always something to do and we don´t have time for everything we would still like to, we would like to give opportunities on 3 areas of responsibility for those who could easily take on. These are :

Kitchen and food transformation:

  • Maintain the main Kitchen clean and organized;
  • Plan meals, go shopping in local market;
  • Transform and preserve food ( fermenting, drying, pickles, jams, sauces, Kombucha,etc);
  • Pick and dry flowers, herbs and fruits;
  • Make infused oils and tinctures for medicine;
  • Collect wild food; etc…
  • Cooking with fire/grill and using the bread oven 🙂 (we do have a normal gas cooker);

Annual Garden and Perenial Food Forests:

  • Food production (plan and practice);
  • Plant propagation (seedlings and cuttings);
  • Design and research for medicinal gardens and food forests;
  • Prepare raised beds (kitchen garden, food forests and guilds);
  • Collect and store seeds;
  • Worm farm (maintain and improve system);
  • Irrigation (Maintain and improve);
  • Prepare and use liquid feeds for garden;
  • Plan and sow green manure in new plots;
  • Collect animals manure from neighbors when needed ;
  • Use of chainsaw and strimmer

General Maintenance and Natural Building :

  • Build and improve fences;
  • General maintenance of buildings (lime wash, fix plasters, treat wood);
  • General maintenance of electric plugs and switches;
  • Maintenance and improvement of irrigations (pipes, connections and taps);
  • Water pump, keeping filled and general maintenance (check oil and spark plug);
  • Use of chainsaw and strimmer (and maintenance of machines and tools);
  • Install and maintain guttering for each roof;
  • Repair and improve diy solar water heater;
  • Build and research on solar ovens;
  • Road and Stream maintenance
  • Natural Building (helping Bárbara)
  • Chop and store firewood

Being responsible doesn´t mean doing it all, but means planning, delegating and even finding help outside as we have quite a large community around and not so far with many helping hands looking for opportunities to be involved :-).

All these might be things you already know, others you will learn. Me and Emma are here to teach and guide when needed. Every area is connected to another, so we need to work together, plan together, communicate the best we can and suppport one another.

There are other areas that Apprentices are welcome to help only if that is not affecting their main responsibility as they are not as much of a priority. These are : Organic markets (we can sell our produce weekly); Web site and social Media (could need some attention but is not a priority);

We will have community meetings fortnightly to check in the progress of each one and what can be done differently. The first week or two is mainly for each Apprentice to “arrive”, get settled and get used to our rhythm, receive instructions and some teachings on Permaculture Design and Natural Building, and plan the goals of their Apprenticeship time for evaluation… If it fits our needs and priorities, we have a match 🙂 !

I envision (the ideal world…) a group of 3 or 4 Apprentices who could organize themselves for daily tasks (cooking, cleaning, washing), and could plan and work together as a team to accomplish our common goals.

Me and Emma are prepared to teach each one what we have learned so far, and we would also like to invite some of our friends who live nearby to teach their skills in “open classes” (it´s an idea, lets see how it flows).

As I mentioned, all this will require some skills on planning and organizing, as well as clear communication of plans and goals with the rest of the team and us. I’m aware this is not for everyone, but if communication is clear, another way can be possible. It is a short time, specially if it´s only 3 months, but much could be achieved with a good motivation.

I have learned on the way that if I just do what I´m told (which is really nice sometimes), I don´t really exercise myself to think of solutions and make a plan to achieve goals. Having clear goals gives us many opportunities to celebrate our accomplishments, as little as they may be 🙂… or we will realise we were trying to achieve more than we could 🙂 … The goal could be also to learn specific things, and follow our guidance.

I am sure we will celebrate many achievements :-), and we want to include that as part of this time, maybe every 2 weeks or so, inviting friends over, preparing special meals, having fun together, etc…


  • We request each one to bring their own accomodation (tent, tipi, yurt, car, van) and if possible their own transport (we are 40 minutes walking from the nearest train station);
  • We request each one to respect the others´ space (this is a time for self reflection too and we will encourage that);
  • We request each one to respect our differences of opinions, ways of doing things, spiritual practices or beliefs, sexual orientation, cultural approaches, etc;
  • We request acceptance of the rhythm and routine that has already been working for this place; (we can make a plan together on our first week, but this is what we usually expect : working 4 hours a day for 5 days a weekresting 2 days, in or out of the land… participating in our praying / singing circles and any check-in circle, participating in our fortnight celebration, participating or at least respecting our weekly praying/singing circle with local community and any event we will host at MoO);
  • We will encourage each one to develop their individual spiritual practices (they may be different from others) as we consider this to be fundamental to help each individual process
  • We obviously request some skills on working in a team ( I do love to work alone sometimes and that is ok too as long as it is communicated… working alone can also be working in team and for the team);
  • We also want to invite those who are willing to work through the hard “issues” that might emmerge. This is almost garanteed in community life, as there is little space to “hide”… Misunderstandings are very common even when we are doing our best to communicate clearly. Transparency is a must and we will encourage each one, including ourselves, to communicate what we feel and think, to confront and accept confrontation… It has been one of my major areas of growth and I still feel I have so much to learn. It requires everyone to help.

We all desire to live in Peace and Love, and one way to reach that is with honesty and transparency, and willingness to resolve and repair where is needed; Not leaving any little annoyance becoming too big we cannot handle it; Not taking things too personally, but acknowlege that we all may trigger each other for us to work on it and grow… If we don´t deal with it, we miss an amazing opportunity to be free and set others free.

This includes me and Emma, who are not free at all from faults and mistakes or hurting others. We may be older than some and more experienced in some areas, but we will fail and trigger some of you, and we will welcome your honesty as we are here to grow too.

  • We require some leadership skills, as well as willingness to trust and be guided by others;
  • We want to call entrepreneurial spirits, those who take initiatives and responsibility for the results of their actions and the effect that has on others, on themselves and the environment around them.
  • We will encourage improvements when we decide is a priority and there is willing to do them … I don´t necessarily like when people just want to point at “problems” without bringing viable solutions (or not accepting it is not our priority at the moment is suggested)… The reason is that I will want to find a solution, sometimes when that is not our priority at the moment 🙂 .
  • We request that each Apprentice already have some experience of community living and sharing spaces;
  • Preferably we would like to invite those who already have the 72h Permaculture Design Course, or at least an introduction course, as these are ethics and principles we follow and practice on a day to day basis. Knowledge and experience on organic farming, regenerative and syntropic farming are also very welcome as most principles are similar. We know and trust “Vale da Lama Permaculture centre” in Algarve where Lesley Martin, my teacher lives :-), as well as “Aldeia do Vale” where Silvia Floresta lives and “Eco-aldeia do Soajo” where Yassine and Joana live… and I’m sure there are many other good places where you can take your PDC.

If you are still reading, there is a very good possibility that this is your time and this is a calling for you.

As I said earlier, you could come for a 3 month block (February to April , or June to August), or embrace 6 months.

Even though we will have to read your application and maybe have an online meeting, the first 2 weeks will still be a trial, for us to know you and for you to know us and the land… if it is not working for you, you will be free to go. If it is not working for us, or if we have reasonable reasons to believe someone is not fit for this experience at this time, we could ask any apprentice to leave at any time.

  • We will request that, in the month of May we have a break and take a rest, go travel, go visit other places or local projects which you will surely know about once you are here. These lands have been booming with many new people with very interesting visions and projects. Communities of parents, Permaculture farms, Organic Markets, Educational projects, Eco-tourist projects, City projects with migrants and refugees, etc… We will encourage you to get involved in the local community as you wish.

This is roughly it… I can´t give an exact program and plan because we will make it together depending on who will join us , each one´s skills and desires, and of course the land´s needs. Each season has it´s priorities, so the first block will be different than the second… The early one is all about preparing beds, seedlings, managing forests, planting trees, fixing things, organising and cleaning, designing and researching, chopping wood and keep us warm, etc… the summer block has more natural building, events, retreats, hosting guests, spending siesta at local rivers and lakes, long evenings, watering , watering, and did I mentioned watering 🙂 It´s a beautiful and dynamic dance, and I assure you, you will learn and grow a lot if you come open for it.

Here´s our last year’s experience with Emi, if you haven’t read it yet on my previous post:

My journey at Mount of Oaks started in April 2022 and it was truly a life changing experience for me. I was welcomed so warmly and with so much love, not only by the residents of Mount of Oaks, but by the entire community in the area. I had an instant feeling of belonging. 

I came with the intention to be in charge of the garden. But it was so much more than just volunteering as a gardener. 

It was the life in a community, the consciousness of sustainability and the treatment of nature, animals and human beings that profoundly shaped my time at MoO. 

As a landscape gardener I was familiar with most of the work and after my PDC (Permaculture Design Course) I knew about the Permaculture Principles. But at Mount of Oaks I have seen these principles put into practice and I saw my work and duty as a gardener in a different way. 

At the beginning it was a challenge for me to work mostly on my own, but with time I knew the garden, I knew the land and gained more trust in me and my work. 

In a community it is very important to see the work yourself and come up with solutions and ideas which then can be shared with the others. This has contributed a lot to me becoming more independent and also more creative. Besides that, I had the space to make mistakes, which really helped me to learn even more. 

The everyday Life changed with the seasons. We would often welcome the day with a prayer and then everyone went on with the work for the day. 

We tried to have dinner together once a week to spend time with each other and share thoughts, ideas and achievements. So there is a balance between spending time with the community and having enough time for yourself and doing things you love. 

I could really write a book about the things I experienced and learned in these six months. After a while I started to make a list of all the things I did there for the first time. And this list kept getting longer and longer. So it is not easy to summarize my time at MoO here. 

It’s an absolutely magical place and the nature and this land kept me so grounded and alive and I have really found a family in these amazing people.  

And I know I always have a place to come back to.

This inspired me to make this call for next year and I am quite grateful for Emi and her kind and gentle spirit, as well as her hardworking enthusiasm. She was alone as an apprentice which has it´s benefits, but I thought a small group will be even better. Like I said, 3 or 4 will bring a more balanced dynamic.

Get in touch (use the contact form or e.mail in this web site) and raise your questions if you need to know more.

We can´t forget this is a 5 hectare farm land, and regenerating and developing this farm in a sustainable way is part of our calling too. We usually need to find a balance between “managing people” and “managing land”… We cannot seat all day speaking about our chalenges, or our passions, or our dreams, or how we are going to change the world… There will be time for that too 🙂 But this land needs our help too as we are part of this eco-system… We help the land and it´s beings and I assure you that She will help us individually and collectively, because that is what our Mother Earth does.

  • We would love to welcome those who are passionate to restore and regenerate lands and soils, those who are willing to bring healthy and sustainable solutions and are able to see the bright side when “problems” arise.
  • We would like to welcome those who are willing to work through the difficult and challenging times and will not be afraid to ask for help when needed.
  • We receive help, in order to help others… This is not a therapy program, but surely healing happens, when it needs to happen or when it comes to the surface. We would love to welcome those who are more willing to serve than to be served. We all have a lot to give and hospitality has been an important part of this place, so it is a request that each apprentice has already this desire. We will possibly host different retreats, events, healing ceremonies, workshops, etc. “Herbal Yoga”, that our local friend Daisy is pioneering, is already scheduled each month; possibly an 8 day residential shamanic retreat and several building workshops in Summer … just so you have an idea of our possible activitiesWe encourage each one of the Apprentices to use our spaces too, for workshops, events, massages and other healing therapies, or what each wants to offer or generate income from. (as long as that doesn´t affect their main responsibility at MoO and aligns with our goals and principles)

Our faith and trust in a “much bigger than us” Being is very important for me as you might have noticed by now. This land, in a way, and in my heart, belongs to this Being we feel privileged to serve… The One who is in us and all around us, in whom we live and move and have our being. We are not affiliated with any kind of Institution or religion even though Jesus, as our guide, healer and teacher has been part of both mine and Emma´s path for most of our spiritual awakening and healing journey.

We are part of an Association, White Stone, that you can already be part of ( here ). White Stone is the legal owner and guardian of this land we live in and look after as a service to Mother Earth and this Higher Being who guides us all.

Thank you for staying with me until the end, and looking forward to hear any feed-back… Please submit your FORM here

Blessings your way .

Yearly news 2022…

Hello friends of Mount of Oaks and White Stone Associates,

I hope this post finds you well,and I hope you don´t mind my english mistakes 🙂 … This is my yearly update and it might take some time to read (15-20 minutes), so if you are interested in what has been going on this last year at Mount of Oaks and what are our rough plans ahead , grab a cup of a nice drink, seat comfortably and relax 🙂

I’m sitting at the window of our lovely guest room that some of you have been staying in… I rarely use this space and it just invited me to some peace and quiet to write this letter 🙂 Just for fun I will post here some “befre/after” pictures from Mount of Oaks , like our kitchen here 🙂

I’m very aware my communication has not been so consistent for many years, and I don´t think I will get any better… I haven’t been on social media very often either, especially these last 3 years when I stopped organising events that required more constant use of those means. It became overwhelming for me, and in many cases, a waste of my time, as it is so easy to get “lost” with so much information about so many people and so many things. I just realised I don’t have the capacity for it, emotionally, mentally and even physically as my eyes’ sight gets worse when I spend time on a screen.

(our Guest room… early days and today)


Life with land has been changing my habits over the years, and I have observed that I mainly write during Autumn and Winter, when days are shorter, and there are more rainy days to stay cosy around a fire stove, in a much more quiet and relaxed space.

Our own solar powered energy is also more efficient these days as we have invested in a better system.  It is probably the first winter here where we don’t need to keep worrying about our energy use. We even have a small fridge now, and we will be able to run a washing machine once I have the time to research and install an efficient one 🙂

Once preparation for Spring starts, around February, that’s it, we are open for guests, apprentices, events, etc…which means more people are around and require more attention… and I require more time to rest and receive the energy I need to give to those who are present.

This is something that I have observed in myself the last years, how much of an introvert I am or have become. It seems that I need more and more time alone, in prayer, silence and solitude in order to be able to give my time and energy to other people. Therefore I love Autumn and Winter to rest, evaluate and prepare myself for next season. 🙂

There are often exceptions and last year as we had a local friend and brother, Ricardo and his 2 kids, Eva,10, and Amadeu, 4, who were in need of a place to settle and process a painful divorce from their mother. They delighted us with their presence for almost a year, and this Spring time we all felt it was time for them to move on to another chapter, especially for the kids, who need more stability at this time in their lives. 

They are still nearby, at Ricardo’s grandma, Teresa, who is 91 years old, and Eva loves to have her own room now 🙂. Teresa spends the days at the village care house, so it is not too much extra care for Ricardo at the moment. This was a concern when he chose to come here instead, because there was already a lot to adapt in his life with a divorce and two children to look after.  

It is nice, I have to recognise, when we have this season with the land and all common spaces for ourselves. 

We are still living in the big bus Willi has brought back in 2008 😂, which is still pretty much the same 😕, as we never made time within our priorities to upgrade it … But 🙂… we are (slowly) building a house for ourselves, as I find some time between all the other things I do to maintain MoO running 🙂 and as we get some income to invest in materials. 

I’m not rushing either (and neither is Emma at this stage) as I want to enjoy the process and take as much time and attention to detail as possible 🙂. It’s going to be quite a life change once we move in, and it will be easier to welcome others to spend the winter here with more comfort.

The idea is that we can have more privacy to work and rest and our common spaces can be more available for other Associates to use for events, retreats, guests, etc, including over Autumn and Winter 🙂

After 16 years, Mount of Oaks has offered an off-grid setting for many different itinerant groups to experience community life… for a few months to a year, and some for several years. Not all experiences were “good”(whatever that means)… they were what they were, learning experiences that made us all grow ( so I hope).


Throughout the years I have changed my ideal of “intentional community”, and some of the “not so good experiences” made me more protective of my heart and also my marriage with Emma which suffered along the way with the many tensions that community life brings.

Despite all the challenges, MoO is still welcoming communities… itinerant ones, during our 8 month open season, with volunteers/apprentices who have their lives changed, and with passing-by guests, who have a little taste of it and leave inspired and hopeful… 

Locally, in this bio region around the Gardunha Mountains, our community is getting stronger and more resilient every year… 

Many new people have been moving to the area the last years from all over the world… the local town of Fundão has been investing a lot on welcoming many “new locals”, which include not only “alternative” young people wanting to live off-grid and more sustainably, but also new migrant workers coming from Brazil, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, and recently many refugees from the Ukrainian war, offering housing, school for children and jobs to start a new life in central Portugal.

MoO is only a piece of a huge colourful mosaic that has been built by many of those who are moving to the area with a desire to BE a different and resilient community… it is happening 🙂

Soon in Fundão (18-20 November) a convergence of many people in many different areas will gather to share and dream about a sustainable future for this bio region of “Cova da Beira”. Our friends and partners from the “Ananda Marga community” are organizing it and our brother Ricardo and others like Njiza, are involved in this kind of proactive actions for the sustainable development of these lands.

So, yes, my concept of “community” went way beyond the land of Mount of Oaks, and it is a delight to witness 🙂.

There are many other community projects, family projects, educational projects, permaculture projects, organic markets with local producers every weekend, and the list can go on.

I have to say that it’s even too overwhelming for me, and most of the time I avoid going to many of the social events that happen in the area. I’m delighted it is happening, and I don’t even have to be involved 🤣 

Emma on the other hand, has actually been the instigator of a lot of what is happening. (no surprise for those who know her already )

Last year she was offered a job by the city hall of Fundão, as a mediator between the city hall and the “new locals”, as we are called. This has been quite a change for us here at MoO, as I found myself holding the space alone again.

We are still evaluating this experience, and it has been really hard for us to discern what is best because, on one hand, we can see how much life she gives and receives from it, but on the other hand we see how overstretching it is for us and the land.

The plan now is for her to stay until the end of her contract, which is April next year, and then take less hours work and focus more on the things she really wants to get involved in the city with “new locals”… She has been doing way beyond what was expected of her, and even though she has been starting amazing things, we know this is not sustainable in the long run. She misses working in and from the land… And I miss her too 🙂

I hope you are still there… I just wanted now to share some ideas that are crossing my mind at the moment concerning future steps… 

When we knew Emma was not going to be available in the land this year, we accepted a long term volunteer, Emi, to be in charge of the garden. (in the picture, happy with the results of her earthbag steps 🙂

We are not accepting short term volunteers anymore because the time we were spending “managing people” and the time we were spending “managing land” was very unbalanced… people had a great time and learned a lot 🙂 and that was ok for many years, but now we are longing for more balancing exchanges 🙂 .

It worked really well this year with our lovely volunteer Emi, a 24 year old German girl who had the best time of her life. She was looking for a place to put in practice some of the things she learned on her Permaculture Design Course (PDC) with our friend Silvia Floresta.

I asked her to write us a review of her time with us, and here is what she shared :

My journey at Mount of Oaks started in April 2022 and it was truly a life changing experience for me. I was welcomed so warmly and with so much love, not only by the residents of Mount of Oaks, but by the entire community in the area. I had an instant feeling of belonging. 

I came with the intention to be in charge of the garden. But it was so much more than just volunteering as a gardener. 

It was the life in a community, the consciousness of sustainability and the treatment of nature, animals and human beings that profoundly shaped my time at MoO. 

As a landscape gardener I was familiar with most of the work and after my PDC (Permaculture Design Course) I knew about the Permaculture Principles. But at Mount of Oaks I have seen these principles put into practice and I saw my work and duty as a gardener in a different way. 

At the beginning it was a challenge for me to work mostly on my own, but with time I knew the garden, I knew the land and gained more trust in me and my work. 

In a community it is very important to see the work yourself and come up with solutions and ideas which then can be shared with the others. This has contributed a lot to me becoming more independent and also more creative. Besides that, I had the space to make mistakes, which really helped me to learn even more. 

The everyday Life changed with the seasons. We would often welcome the day with a prayer and then everyone went on with the work for the day. 

We tried to have dinner together once a week to spend time with each other and share thoughts, ideas and achievements. So there is a balance between spending time with the community and having enough time for yourself and doing things you love. 

I could really write a book about the things I experienced and learned in these six months. After a while I started to make a list of all the things I did there for the first time. And this list kept getting longer and longer. So it is not easy to summarize my time at MoO here. 

It’s an absolutely magical place and the nature and this land kept me so grounded and alive and I have really found a family in these amazing people.  

And I know I always have a place to come back to. “

It is worth all the years and all the work to get feed backs like this 🙂 . Thank you Emi for all you have given to this place, and we will look forward to having you with us again when you want.

She would like to come back next year, let´s see where Life takes her on her journey. It was a very good experience for both parts, and all it took was very clear communication and very clear expectations. This experience has shaped the new way we want to approach these experiences, and my next post will be about this.

I´m sure it will evolve with time, but for now we are thinking to develop a sort of an “Off-grid Permaculture apprenticeship – with a monastic rhythm“.

These are 3 concepts that have been part of the shapping of Mount of Oaks.

The word “Monastic”, reminds me of spiritual communities that spread all over Europe in times when connection with God was too Institutionalised and became irrelevant to some monks and nuns who wanted to go deeper in their relationship with Spirit , and be more relevant in the societies they lived in, more independent from “Rome” and the institutionalised society. “Monasteries” were houses of Light and Hope for the communities around them, and had a big emphasis on prayer, education, compassion for the poor, healing with natural medicines, and self-sustainable farming .

The word “Off-grid” means we are not dependent from public utilities (provided by a System we no longer trust), like water, electricity, sewage systems, etc. After all the lock-downs people experienced in cities these last years, this is becoming quite crucial for those who don’t want to live “domesticated” lives where you get all the basic needs and other “comforts” from a system that is not personal and in reality doesn’t really seem to care much for the individual.

There are more and more people wanting to learn how to live more independent from a system that is not inspiring much trust, and here is where the word “Apprenticeship” comes along. We already offer many skills that we ourselves aquired over the years, as you can read from Emi´s words, and that is what we would like to shape in the next seasons.

More than just having helping hands, I feel this place is ideal to train people on many off-grid living skills, and also spiritual “skills” to find their way to relate to themselves, to Nature, to God, The Great Spirit, as well as empowering them to be leaders and producers, and not only followers or consumers. 

With this in mind, I would like next year to call in specific “apprentices” who would like to come for 3 to 6 months and be immersed in our monastic life at Mount of Oaks, with its different rhythms of prayer and singing, working, resting, creating, hosting and growing together in many different ways.

There are 2 or 3 main areas that are a priority and I would like others to be responsible for next season : the Anual veggie Garden and different sustainable food production designs; General Maintenance and Natural Building; and Kitchen and processing food . Im working on a call for my next post. Keep an eye on it if you are interested or share if you know someone who might. 


 I would like to finish this already long letter sharing about our weekly “singing circle” that we started to host about 2 years ago.

I still feel the need to gather with others to pray and seek Great Spirit for guidance. It has not been easy for me to not have a spiritual community for so long. We live in such a priviledge time when we have been exposed to so many different ways to relate to this Divine Mystery with so many names, faces, narratives… but I don´t feel we gather enough as communities to seek this guidance and healing we so need along our lives…

today´s western societies are also so disconnected from it, or so afraid to get “trapped” into some religious fanatism based on our past experiences of institutionalised religions… when we look closely, each religion or path tells us the same stories, the same messages… like this to a community who resisted the 1st century Roman Empire : “Do not conform to the pattern of this society, but transform yourselves by the renewing of your consciousness. Then you will be able to experience what God’s will is—the good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It is about renewing our consciousness… entering the spirit world… thankfully we are seeing more and more these ancient wisdoms reaching us in many different ways…

In our weekly circles we use songs inspired by north and south american indigenous songs, songs with christian cosmology, african cosmologies, hindu mantras, rainbow songs and simple spirit lifting and healing songs each person is welcome to bring. Every tradition, belief system or cosmology is welcomed…

It is the simple lighting of candles with simple prayers and intentions, the heart opening with songs that speak and touch our hearts, and The Spirit gives to each one what we need each time we gather.


It has been a gentle and quiet journey we have been very grateful for. We give thanks to all those who make these gatherings so powerful. We come as we are. We give what we have. We receive what we need. And there is so much more we are not aware of I believe.

We have experienced and we know where The Spirit can lead us, and how powerful and strong The presence of Spirit can be… this is my prayer and hope every time we gather…


We live in a very broken and sick world here in these northern western societies… Many people feel lost and disconnected, many people want a family to belong to, many people live in fear and things don’t look like they are getting any better since the global panic in 2020.

The reality of most of our relationships and most of Europe’s lives (as I perceive it without watching news) is that spiritual communities became too institutionalised and irrelevant to even be an option in people’s minds, and there is little trust everywhere… in governments, in schools, in hospitals, in religions and even within families…

 I’m not one to blame anyone… But I do want to live differently…we still live among people who are desperately looking for answers, for healing, for guidance, for leadership, for depth, for powerful encounters with this Unknown Divine … and I include myself among those people… Maybe is naive or childish, or utopia, but I believe in a better life for everyone, than that which has been presented to us by this society for centuries.

It is time to pray, surely, and also to model different ways to live in harmony with each other and our lovely planet Earth… Because ultimately it is this Earth that provides all our basic needs…


As long as we keep choosing greed over love, we will keep seeing injustice where some have too much and a lot don’t have enough… I still cannot accept that this is still a reality today… corruption, lies, lack of honesty and transparency… I feel helpless a lot of times, when I happen to pass by a place with a Tv and watch the terrible news all over the world or the weird shows of people who don´t seem real… it makes me sad to see where we‘ve come to… and where so many people spend their precious time of their very short lives.


What world are we living in? What world are we creating? I feel so alienated a lot of times, and this gap seems bigger and bigger as years go by… Sometimes I get concerned that I am becoming too out of touch with the “normal” reality most people are living in today… but when I hear about it, or see it, I’m so thankful I live where I live and the way I live… choices I have made following this voice and guidance I call God, companion and friend… for me, this is the “normal”…

Most people, especially in cities, are more and more dependent on a system that cannot promise them anything… dependent for their basic needs to be met… water, food, shelter, clothing, energy… totally domesticated and at the mercies of Governments and Corporations who don’t even know their names, who don’t even care, as long as they pay their tax and their debts… we’ve been there before, in other shapes and forms… and we can also seek wisdom and guidance from all those witnesses and ancestors… We are evolving I want to believe… And we are trying our best to play our little part in the much bigger picture we call life on earth.

That´s all for now… Thanks for staying with me until the end 🙂

Many blessings your way

Much Love, Peace and Hope.


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)

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!