We arrived in Asturias March 2nd 2011, looking for a place where we could live simply and pursue our dreams. We found ‘El Toral’ and here we are, creating a smallholding from scratch, surrounded by spectacular mountains, forests, rivers and coast.
We live off-grid on the land, grow vegetables, raise animals and provide a little eco-retreat for adventurous folk who want stay a while.
Of course, the simple life isn’t that simple: between learning and practicing a thousand and one new skills (animal husbandry, crop management, solar systems, straw bale construction, securing a natural water supply… the list goes on) life can be very complicated at times but overall, they’re complications we enjoy and have chosen.
Before we set sail for Spain we had envisaged setting up an ‘eco Campsite’ but it didn’t take long to realise that with our resources and the rigid requirements for campsites in Asturias we would struggle. However, running private educational courses with accommodation included is less restricted. So under the mantle of ‘Residential Educational Courses’, we invite visitors to come and stay with us at El Toral and share in our off-grid eco farm experience, learning and sharing knowledge during their time with us.
A bit about liz…
… By my mid-thirties, an appreciation of good food; a dislike of spending my wages on bills; and a love of looking in skips for hidden treasures had eventually evolved into a life changing PLAN. In short: acquire some land, live on it, grow food, earn a living from it and pay as few bills as possible.
A bit about Steve…
… For the past 25 years I’ve been talking about getting a piece of land, living a more simple life and creating real things with my hands (and playing more petanque). Somehow life got in the way and there was always some reason not to do it. Then along came Liz with the same dream. I sailed past 40, had a couple of knee operations, then an opportunity to take voluntary redundancy arose following the banking crisis and government cuts. Within 1 month of leaving local government Town & Country Planning we had the van loaded and, with the caravan in tow, we were headed south for a new life. Having spent the previous 7 years studying and advising about sustainable development and reducing our impact on the planet I would finally get to ‘walk the walk’.
There are 3 basic ‘courses’ offered each with it’s own unique accommodation:
Cosy Coco Cabaña
La Casita Redonda
The Funky Farmhouse
Each course begins the moment you arrive and ends when you leave, rather than formal, rigid taught courses we like to think our holistic approach of letting you live the course is more appropriate within our setting. It also allows visitors to do what they want when they want – a bit like being on holiday!
That said, we welcome post prandial ruminations on all sorts of topics, key concepts being: low-impact living, conservation, sustainability, permaculture, living the ‘good life’. Discussion topics could include titles such as: ‘The High Art of the Pig Bucket’, ‘Making the Most of your Rubble Pile’, ‘A Blow by Blow Contemplation of Life Without a Hair Dryer’. Visitors can of course discuss any aspect of what we do on the farm.
FOr now, take a look around this website.