Greenheart Visits Ultimate Eco Office
By: Andrea Dennis, Outreach Director
Situated in the Serra da Estrela mountains near Viseu, Portugal lies the scene of dotted stone houses, caved red brick roofs and storied faces of villagers who have worked and loved the land since they were born. As of late, this region in Portugal has attracted many Europeans, and the best among them, those who want to preserve the stoned creations of times’ past, and live the land in an eco-minded way. Such is the case of three former Greenheart Ibiza Casita Verde volunteers: Murray (UK), Danny (UK), and Eszter (Hungary). I was lucky enough to visit them last week, and here’s the scoop.
They were first introduced to the land when Danny and another former Casita Verde volunteer, the tenacious environmental activist, Ana Digon, traveled to The Awakened Life Project to help construct an eco-toilet (similar to the one at the Casita Verde). After seeing the ripe land in Portugal, Danny relayed this to longtime friend and fellow environmentalist, Murray. At the time, in 2009, Murray had been volunteering his web services to the Casita Verde and helping with various projects in Ibiza, Spain. Ready to venture, Murray found this Portuguese hillside an ideal location: fresh spring water, fruit trees, stone structures, and a fair price.
Four years have passed since Murray landed on what is now lovingly called, Quinta Linda (little farm in Portuguese). With dedication, painstaking labor, and helping hands from locals, plus occasional invaluable volunteers (including Ana Digon, Mateos, Mike Macleod, Lily and the newest permanent member, Eszter) Murray has constructed the foundation for a thriving eco-center and a home-base to the green WordPress web development company founded by Murray, Q Studio (formerly QL Studio). Greenheart utilizes Q Studio for many of their websites including Greenheart.info, EmanuelKuntzelman.com, GreenheartClub.org and soon to be the new GreenheartTravel.org site (launching this October).
Making Dreams Reality
While this sounds like an environmental dream, and for all purposes it is, the amount of labor it takes to plan, build and maintain an eco-home and office is astounding and highly admirable. When Murray first arrived he lived out of his eco-van and began to clear the land. Forest fires are a major concern in the area and keeping the forest floors clear is top priority for fire prevention. The first major job was the water supply, solar power and the main house. Since 2009, much has been accomplished, but even greater plans are in the works.
Let’s take a Tour
What to do with the waste
Start with the essentials, an Asian inspired eco-toilet built by Danny and Murray, using the concept of the eco-toilet model used in Casita Verde. This beauty is a most excellent spot to make a deposit for highly nutrient compost. Check out the photo of the view from inside the toilet below.
Energy and water, in addition to waste, are key components of living green. Quinta Linda has that covered with highly efficient solar power (panel costs are getting more reasonable everyday) and spring fresh water for drinking, bathing and cooking.
What about the accommodations? The main casa has already been refurbished and houses Murray, Eszter, the office and kitchen. Local pine was used for the renovation. I stayed under the stars next to the eco-van, Dan’s temporary house. In addition to running on all renewable sources, Murray keeps his technological office needs simple. No paper, everything in the cloud, and efficient use of time and space. Q Studio wins the proverbial green office challenge on all fronts.
Quinta Linda is in building mode. The next big project is to renovate the old barn into the main office, volunteer accommodation and Dan’s house. Think wrap around porch with stunning panoramic views, glass walls and stone foundation, eco-toilet, shower and pool table (Dan’s dream).
Most importantly, the food
Vegetation. Their garden is currently small at Quinta Linda, with moving stones and big building being the current focus, but they have permaculture plans for gardens galore on the many raised terraces. Nonetheless, healthy local food is a cornerstone to the community and social health of QL. We had many lovely meals together.
Energy inspiration and the team is all together!
On the last night and day web designer for Q Studio, Iban, joined us from Barcelona for a trip to the windmills and a brainstorm on Q Studio. Many think of Portugal as being behind the times, but on the contrary. Portugal announced that renewable energy supplied 70% of total consumption in the first quarter of this year with wind power breaking a record, accounting for 27% of the energy share. More on that here. After frolicking in the wind mills, the next morning we talked about Q Studio and the growth of its business model developing and designing WordPress sites. It was the first “official brainstorm” at Quinta Linda.
Greenheart is proud to support and work with Q Studio. The friendships and partnerships forged by the birthplace of Greenheart, the Casita Verde, continue to shape and grow our global community. Supporting each other in new creative paths. Stay tuned for more on the progress at Q Studio, the big Greenheart and Q Studio collaboration (the new Greenheart Travel website launching in October) and other surprises around the corner.