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Sustainable hosts: how permaculture and camping go hand in hand

Sustainable hosts: how permaculture and camping go hand in hand

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the outdoors, then camping on a sustainable host’s property might be just the thing you’re looking for.

Since the concept of visiting local nature is in itself an eco-friendly way to travel, nearly every Campspace or local camping trip is already a form of sustainable travel. 

There are a few hosts you’ll encounter, however, that work particularly hard towards reducing the environmental impact of their hosting activities and daily lives alike. Besides being treasured members of the Campspace community, hosts Nicolas, Vanessa, Thomas, Gloria, Patrick and Christophe all have another thing in common - the practice and advocacy of permaculture! 

These hosts welcome guests to their sustainable campspaces across Europe, offering direct exposure to their unique plots of nature while showcasing the immense benefits of their permaculture practices. Staying with permaculture hosts on Campspace is an opportunity to learn about the upsides of truly sustainable living while enjoying nature in a non-intrusive way.

Permaculture is an ecological design system quickly gaining popularity amongst those looking to contribute to sustainability and is now being implemented in many different areas including agriculture, forestry and even hospitality. Read on to be introduced to our lovely permaculture hosts and learn how permaculture and camping go hand in hand.

permaculture host France

What is permaculture?

First, let’s align on what the concept of permaculture really is. Permaculture is a branch of ecological design that strives to create sustainable human habitation systems by imitating the patterns found in nature. It's an approach to land management and food production that integrates the natural environment, plants, animals, and people into a functioning whole.

The word permaculture was coined in the 1970s by Australian ecologist Bill Mollison and his collaborator David Holmgren. The term permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture," but it has since been expanded to include all aspects of sustainable living, such as energy use, housing, waste management, and community development.

Permaculture systems are designed to be highly efficient and self-sufficient. They are often created on a small scale, such as in a home garden or on a farm. However, the principles of permaculture can also be applied to larger projects, such as urban neighbourhoods and even entire cities.

Permaculture campsites on Campspace

When it comes to sustainable living, there are few practices more important than permaculture. Permaculture is based on the observation and mimicry of natural systems and aims to create highly efficient systems that are self-sufficient and regenerative. Visiting a host that either has their permaculture practice well underway or is working towards setting one up, is a great way to gain insight into what it takes, before getting stuck in yourself. On top of this, opting for a permaculture campspace is a sure fire way to treat yourself to a getaway in nature while supporting local communities.

Hosts sign up to Campspace to become part of a community of like-minded people that can make themselves, and their sustainability practices, available to the wider public. The hosts we introduce you to below run beautiful campspaces in Portugal, Spain, Latvia, France and Italy.

Host Nicolas and his permaculture campspace in Alvito, Portugal

Nicolas Starreveld owns a grove of 60 olive trees in a remote, hilly region of southern Portugal, which he uses to make olive oil and cure olives. Nicolas bought his land in 2018 and has been developing a permaculture and food forest ever since, later adding camping and glamping pitches. 

He believes that now is the time to truly give back to nature, explaining, ‘I am a permaculture designer, but in the future I want to be able to educate children on the off-grid lifestyle and sustainable living as well.’

host nicolas permaculture space portugal

A nature getaway at Nicolas’s campspace

Guests love Nicolas’s campspace because it gives them a truly off-grid feeling -you reach the campspace by a short trek up an adventurous dirt track against the stunning backdrop of the Vale Amado. Once you arrive at the campspace, the dramatic sunsets and vibrant wildflower fields will be burned in your memory for years to come.

Although they’ll feel worlds away from their regular lives, guests can enjoy the comforts of a hot shower, a shared kitchen and campfire facilities.

Tips for visitors: 

  • Make sure you do a food shop in the nearby town of Odemira before you make your ascent. 

  • Do your utmost to follow campfire safety rules and only light fires in designated areas, as there is an incredibly high risk of forest fires in this region.

Book Nicolas’s space

Vanessa’s oasis of peace in Catalonia, Spain

Vanessa used to live in Barcelona, where she hosted an artistic, bohemian experience in her tailoring workshop via Airbnb. In her new home in a yurt in the countryside, she wanted to do the same – share her space, but with a renewed vision of sustainability. She takes special care of her property’s natural water supply (which she extracts untreated from the ground) and its soil, growing food and planting fruit trees under permaculture principles.

A nature getaway at Vanessa’s campspace

Vanessa lives in a yurt amongst her olive groves in Riudecanyes, Catalonia. In her garden you’ll find her peaceful oasis with diverse foliage, hammocks, a bbq and campfire facilities. Guests can also enjoy an equipped kitchen, dry bathroom and outdoor shower.

Tips for visitors: 

  • Be sure to sample Vanessa’s olive oil, it won the Spanish best olive oil award in 2021!

  • A perfect place to visit in the hot summer months, due to the shaded camping area and refreshing cold shower.

Book Vanessa’s space

Thomas’s eco-farm hobbit house in Smiltene, Latvia

Permaculture trainer and father to five children, Thomas has built a life for himself and his family that doesn’t rely on ‘the rat race’. Growing his own food and building from natural materials, Thomas’s property features a small hut with a living grass roof, which he calls the Hobbit House.

A nature getaway at Thomas’s campspace

In addition to being a great way to see a permaculture professional in action, visiting Thomas’s campspace will be a wonderfully relaxing experience. Equipped with hot showers, a covered kitchen and a sauna, 

Tips for visitors:

  • If you can play an instrument, you’re welcome to play a session as part of the town’s local folk group!

  • Book a fun cycling tour on a neighbouring farm.

Book Thomas’s space

Gloria’s climbing retreat in Bergamo, Italy

Host Gloria is a seasoned climber, permaculturist, and founder of the Transition Towns initiative ‘Valgandino in Transizione’. She tries to apply permaculture principles throughout her property, including inside her own house.

Gloria says, ‘If you aspire to an eco-friendly lifestyle, or if you are interested in permaculture, sociocracy and the Transition Towns movement, at our property we can talk about it for a long time…’

A nature getaway at Gloria’s campspace

A climber’s haven! Stay the night in your tent or campervan and enjoy the comforts of a hot shower after a day spent exploring the dozens of craggy climbing spots within a half hour’s drive.

Tips for visitors: 

  • Enjoy the sunset, while singing and playing guitar with Gloria!

  • A special pizza called La Spinata, made from local corn, is available at a near restaurant in Gandino.

Book Gloria’s space

Patrick’s mini permaculture farm in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Host Patrick is working towards total self-sufficiency on his property. A small one acre permaculture farm surrounded by a wall including a barn, two sheds, shaded areas, a pond, a large vegetable patch and free range poultry including ducks, chickens, guinea fowl and quail. The area is a feast for the eyes – resplendent with fields of sunflowers and vineyards during the summer months. 

A nature getaway at Patrick’s campspace

Pitch your tent or park your camping vehicle in Patrick’s spacious garden and enjoy free use of a wood-fired pizza oven and hot shower.

Tips for visitors: 

  • If you like foraging, the area has many roadside cherry, fig, peach and walnut trees.

  • A two minute walk from a historic washhouse where local farmers' wives used to gather to do their laundry.

  • Three minutes away there’s a local viewpoint offering stunning views of the local countryside. 

  • The surrounding countryside is gently elevated and ideal for cycling and walking.

Book Patrick’s space

Visit each space page to read about other sustainability practices at each campspace.

In the description offered on each space page, you can sometimes read about the materials used at the location – oftentimes our more creative hosts use recycled materials to build tiny houses, outdoor kitchens and lounge areas. Finally, the resources and methods used at the campspace can speak volumes. Water saving measures, eco-friendly waste management such as compost toilets and food composting and permaculture farming are all commonplace amongst our lovely hosts.

Supporting permaculture principles while camping

One of the great things about permaculture is that it can be applied to any scale, from your own backyard to a large farm. As more people look for ways to live sustainably, permaculture is becoming an increasingly popular choice.

Permaculture is all about creating systems that are sustainable and self-sufficient. It's an approach to land management that emphasises working with nature, rather than against it. When applied to camping, permaculture principles can help minimise your impact on the environment while also enhancing your overall experience.

What does all this have to do with camping? Well, it turns out that permaculture and camping go hand in hand. Here's why:

  1. Consider how you obtain water for camping. If you're using bottled water, you're creating unnecessary waste and consuming resources that could be used more efficiently. If your host filters water from a natural source, you're complying with the principles of permaculture much more.

  2. Think about how you dispose of waste when camping. If you're simply packing everything out with you when you leave, you're not really doing anything to reduce your footprint. But if you adopt some permaculture principles and start composting your food waste or using an incinerator toilet, you can turn what would otherwise be garbage into valuable resources.

  3. Camping is a great way to learn about and observe natural ecosystems. By spending time in nature, you can gain a better understanding of how these systems work and how they can be replicated on a smaller scale. This knowledge is essential for successful permaculture design.

  4. Camping also allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and connect with nature on a deeper level. This connection can inspire you to want to protect and care for the natural world, making you more likely to put permaculture principles into practice when you return home.

  5.  Finally, camping is a great way to tune out the noise and focus on what really matters. You’re much more likely to have the time and brain space to consider the true benefits of adopting a permaculture approach when you are removed from the stresses of your everyday life.

permaculture portugal campspace

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