If you're looking for a cheap and fun way to travel, we would recommend working exchanges; we mainly work with Workaway (but we're on HelpX too, and we do accept direct applications). In short, we provide our volunteers with accommodation (and food), in exchange for help around the farm.
We look for open and outgoing volunteers with a positive attitude. Ideally, you'd like to start a project similar to this one some day - or maybe you just want to experience life on an off-grid property in the middle of nowhere in Spain. A special interest for permaculture, homesteading and green living is a plus; speaking either English, Dutch or Spanish fluently a must.
We're happy to share our skills, knowledge and experience with you, and hope for the same in return. Please get in touch if you'd like to come and stay with us for a while! Make sure you've read this page first though. This contains the most important things you need to know before coming here.
Here are a few useful links:
- How to get here (link to the contact page on our website)
- The off-grid experience (volunteering between March and October 2017)
- Help out on a Mas del Encanto project in winter
- What to do around here
- Mas del Encanto Facebook page. If you've got Facebook, follow us to get an idea of what's going on here before you arrive. Once you're here, you might see pictures of yourself popping up on the page - if you're not comfortable with that, we won't post them of course.
- Simple Living in Spain Facebook page, blog & newsletter. These are Sandrine's scribblings about permaculture, off-grid living, campo lifestyle, hosting volunteers and homesteading.
Please read and note the following
- Communication is important to us. Since we're both quite outspoken, we work well with volunteers who're not afraid to tell us if they've got something on their mind. If you don't understand something, ask questions until it's completely clear and if you've got a problem, tell us and remind us until it's been resolved. We do our best to be clear about our expectations and to make time to talk about everything you'd like (or need) to know. If you've got an idea to make things better or more efficient, talk to us!
- Length of stay: we don't usually accept applications from people wanting to stay less than two weeks. It takes more than a week to really get a good feel of this place, and if we'd hosted short term only we'd spent our time explaining things and showing people around.
If however you're looking for something longer term, it could be an option but we don't like to discuss that before you get here. We don't want to make long term arrangements with people we've never met before!
- It is possible that things don't work out for you here. If you don't feel comfortable here, we don't blame you for leaving (better to leave, than to stay while you hate it); in that case, tell us as soon as you've decided (unless you'd like to leave us with extra food and a messed-up planning). We could ask you to leave at any time as well; we'll give you time and opportunity to arrange your trip or we could set you up to stay with friends nearby if that's an option.
- There are various things to do here at any given time:
- taking care of animals (feeding, cleaning),
- gardening (weeding, pruning, mulching, digging, planting, watering, turning compost),
- landscaping (collecting stones, building / repairing terrace walls, making stairs between terraces),
- construction (tiling and grouting, mixing cement / adobe / glue, building animal shelters, cleaning),
- decorating (painting, assembling furniture),
- general housework (cooking, cleaning, laundry) & working in the bed & breakfast
- many smaller projects (preserving, beer brewing, winemaking, building a drying oven and beehives, building retreat areas).
There's many more things, but this should give you a general idea. We expect that you're willing and able to do any of the jobs described above (or similar). If you're not (e.g. allergy or a handicap), please talk to us about it before coming here, so we can plan around it. We do our best to provide you with some variety, and feel free to tell us what you'd prefer to do.
Off-grid living is really not all about playing with animals and gardening - especially in this stage (we're still building up), a lot of other things have a higher priority
- We expect you to have basic insurance for anything that might happen while here. If you're asked to do anything that you don't feel completely safe doing, please let us know. We have protective gear of all kinds (gloves, glasses, earbuds) and you should use them whenever you feel the need to (at least take them with you when we suggest it would be a good idea) - the only things we're not providing are working shoes and sun protection.
- We expect you to speak either English, Dutch or Spanish at at least intermediate level, so we're able to communicate - about work and well-being, and about safety. We speak Dutch / Flemish with each other, but we're happy to speak English (or our beginner's Spanish) with our volunteers.
- We are 100% off the grid. This means we get our electricity from a solar system, water from our own borehole and heating (in winter) will be done on wood (being installed as I'm writing this). This is not something that influences our lives and comfort greatly, but it is something we keep in mind. We also don't throw away food (we've got dogs, chickens, worms and compost) and try to recycle as much as we can.
- We like to eat good, healthy and local food - and we like to know where our food comes from. Luckily, that's exactly the kind of food we find in the shops in neighbouring towns. You might not be able to find the exotic foodstuffs or the specific brand you're used to (or they might just be very expensive); if you think that could be an issue, this is not the place for you. We still indulge in the occasional junk food though (Axel loves pizza and Sandrine loves baking).
- We are not vegetarians. We don't eat meat every day and don't mind cooking vegetarian dishes while you're here, but there will still be meat in the fridge (or on the table, sometimes) and some of our roosters (who are living a good and happy life for now) will get eaten at one point. If you've got a problem with this, this is not the place for you.
House rules are quite basic and made so we'd all have a good time while you're here.
- Respect: clean up after yourself, knock (or call / announce yourself) when you enter, respect people's property and privacy, pick up stray litter,...
- Smokers: please smoke outside only, pay attention to where the ashes are going (fires are an issue here!) and only dispose of your cigarette bud in an ashtray. For the same reason, gas stoves and camping fires are not allowed.
- Dogs: we have a B&B and don't want our dogs to harass our guests (not everybody loves dogs!), so they're not allowed to jump up, beg for food, go into guest rooms, (Jabba) play roughly or (Jinx) growl and bark until somebody throws the ball or stick. Jabba is also not allowed to chase the chickens or take them for a walk either (he's a work in progress). Doors also need to stay closed when nobody's around, so they can't go and look for food.
- Bed & breakfast: when paying guests are staying in the guest rooms, the whole ground floor of the big house is reserved for them, and we do our best to stay out of their way. We expect the same of our volunteers.
Important: if you planned to come here but for whatever reason have decided not to, please write to us as soon as you know. As long as we're keeping your spot, we are saying no to other volunteers!
If you've read all of this and would still like to come, please let us know! The best way to contact us is through Workaway or HelpX, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +31 652 636064. If you don't have WhatsApp on your phone, we suggest you download it as it's an easy and free way to keep in touch, exchange information (like grocery lists) and pictures while you're here.