I was looking for an immersion into a new lifestyle. I was also hoping to be guided into the world of Permaculture from someone who had a conceptual understanding and a Systems Design approach to it all. I knew that it would be difficult because my urban lifestyle is so opposite to the experience of living on a farm for five weeks. I am used to conveniences and a faster pace. Though you can access conveniences in Arcos, I welcomed the new pleasures of eating with people under a clear, starry night, soaking in the sun at the river beach and jumping into the wonderfully clear water, picking berries each morning for breakfast, drinking water from a well and daily showers under the hot Sun. Most importantly, I was looking forward to the pleasures of working the land and helping Guy's bigger project.
As a Maths and Science teacher in an urban setting, Quinta do Barbeito not only presented itself as advertised, but with surprises that upon reflection became so impressionable on my experience. Theory was really put into practice. There is so much evidence of basic scientific principles being applied to create a comfortable living space for people. A working design of a home-made water heater contraption and water filters made from mattress foam to prevent aquatic creatures from entering the water supply are just two examples. At times, the farm felt like an improv project guided by the principles of Permaculture, basic engineering principles and common sense with the tools and equipment available. This is wonderful! The farm is also a testament to the trial and error process. You try things, and see if it works. If not, learn from the experience and try something different. This is great for learning and in so many situations, I felt like a student enjoying the pleasures and frustrations of figuring things out.
The prior references are spot on. I can endorse what has been said about the experiences of living and working on Guy's farm. This includes the tasty food, the clear expectations and guidelines provided and 'feeling like a fish out of water.' You will get as advertised. I think that this is a testament to the structure and the clear goals Guy has developed to make this farm work.
Guy's practical knowledge is very diversified and more importantly, his conceptual understanding of Permaculture is so broad. He makes the effort to get you to feel part of the greater plan of the farm-that your labour and effort is appreciated and valued. He will take seemingly mundane topics and spark an interest in someone with no prior background. Questions are always welcome. I also appreciate that he has taken the effort to integrate into the community as much as possible. This includes his command of the language and his relationship to his neighbours. He even teaches a Permaculture design course to people and offers his advice to others.
As I spent more time with Guy, I could see that he treats the project as not just a sanctuary, but a living entity with so many moving parts-each essential to the overall project. He is living the Permaculture project the best that he can. I highly recommend the adventure and engaging experience with Guy. I will definitely be back!