Logo primary
Logo secondary
Barbara Leite 's Profile
Barbara Leite
Last Updated:
Povoa de Atalaia, Castelo Branco, Portugal
Climate Zone:
Warm Temperate
Web site:

My Projects

(projects i'm involved in)

Mount of Oaks

Mount of Oaks

Povoa de Atalaia, PT


(projects i'm following)

Mokolodi Conservation Park Permaculture Education Garden
Alexandre Manuel Oliveira Alice Drakeford Ângela Gonçalves Gonçalo Pais Gonçalo Teixeira Hazel Edson João Mineiro Kathy Brown Luzian Weingartner Manuel Lourenço MASMOUDI Soumia Max van Wees Mike Mubaya Nes Abdu Pedro Serpa Pedro Serpa Silvia Floresta Tana Olive yongo otieno
Geoff Lawton João Mineiro Lesley Anne Martin Nuno Mamede Santos Silvia Floresta Sky Girl

Back to Barbara Leite's profile


Posted by Barbara Leite over 4 years ago


At MOUNT OF OAKS - Portugal

Check the videos here so you can see different examples of the same course starting a BIG COMMUNITY HOUSE at a neighbouring project, Keela Yoga Farm, and here at the start of a TINY HOUSE, at a tourism place that burned down during the fires of 2017.

The content of my Courses remain the same, to give each participant the opportunity to try different techniques and materials and realise which one suits them or their project best :-)
Sometimes we have romantic ideas about this or that technique we ve seen in books or videos, until we actually try it in a real building :-)


My focus is always the teaching and the participants, so we will not attempt to finish a particular building, as I ve learned from other Course's experience that that is not the best approach as 8 days is a very short time.
Yet, every course the participants get amazed with how much they achieve in 8 days as you can see in the videos. The goal is also for each participant to be part and see the progress of at least a wall, if not more, depending on the design and ability of the group.

The Course will include basics of DESIGN and Sustainable building, FOUNDATIONS ( more visual and theoretical, as it’s very hard labour to dig and move gravel, and that can be easily explained), STEM/support wall ( SUPERADOBE), WALLS of different techniques ( WATTLE and DAUB, CORDWOOD/COB, STRAWBALE, LIGHT EARTH as insulation), EARTH PLASTERS, LIME PLASTERS, LIME wash with coloured PIGMENTS, and other natural finishes.

I've also made a MANUAL, which is also in PDF form and it will be sent to each participant at the moment of REGISTRATION. It addresses each subject in a mind map style, just to help the participants take their notes on my handmade scribbles and drawings :-)


I, Barbara Leite Cowan, have been teaching in other projects the last years, but 2020's Courses will take place at the MOUNT OF OAKS, and this in particular will be for women only as I've had several requests for that.
This is my home since 2006, as a pioneer and founder of this farm, with a vision to host a community, to host many visitors who come to rest, to help as volunteers, to live for a certain time, to learn and teach in our many courses and retreats.
It's a farm, where we ve been implementing a Permaculture design that will hopefully help this land to provide for itself without much more human intervention, to provide for the plants, trees, animals and humans that may live in it, and to one day, maybe, become a lively educational farm for sustainable living :-)
I've lived in a tent shared with other 2 friends for the first 6 months, then in a half bermed bender in the forest with a plastic roof for 2 years. I ve built that with a rubbish bow saw, rope and nails, all I could afford then :-) . Then I moved to a big bus that was left by a friend for the last 10 years :-) In Portugal we say “In a blacksmith house you have kebab sticks made of wood”  :-) Well, let’s say other community needs were on top of my priorities.
Now the time has come to build a small house, more permanent, for me, my wife, dogs and cat :-)

At the Mount of Oaks you will also be able to see the many examples of the buildings I've been doing for the last 13 years :
Round wood structures, Strawbale houses ( load bearing technique and Post and Beam), Wattle and Daub compost toilets, Superadobe Dog house, Thatch roof, Reciprocal roof, Tadelakt sink, etc... You will be able to get inspired with real buildings, ask all the questions as well as see all my mistakes and how you can do better :-)
I've made my PDC in early 2009 (which I organise here at MoO), in 2010 I organised a Strawbale Building Workshop (Load Bearing) and I ve learned most of other techniques by doing, according to the needs of the Mount of Oaks and its residents, and with the low budget I've always had, to buy materials and good tools. I couldn’t afford to pay labour either, so I had to go DIY and learn myself :-) There is never enough tools, but simple hand tools can also do the job :-) I have now some essential battery powered tools, as we are living off-grid, and some electric tools which I could use with a 2kw Generator, and now with our improved solar powered system. My body is thankful as I will be 46 this year already :-) and some tools just make the job less painful, and faster of course.
This is just to give you a bit of my background on Natural building. I'm not a professional, as building is not my only occupation, and I would need way more tools to be professional as it is expected. But I haven't let people down when I've designed and built for others :-) .
I consider myself a designer, a multitask farmer and a teacher.
I love teaching and I love empowering people to realise their potential. I use mainly DIY , Low Cost techniques, but the same can be done with better tools, better quality materials, etc... That's up to each one. I have sometimes in my courses architects and builders with more experience or knowledge in certain areas and that also makes the course more dynamic as we learn with each other.
I assure one thing, if you have a little talent and self-initiative, you will be able to build yourself a small house to live in, or any other kind of building... Even size is relative, as long as you keep the principles you will learn :-)
I have taught people who never thought they could build , and they were amazed with themselves and what they could actually achieve... And that s why I teach :-)
I would gladly teach for free, as I ve done, but these Courses are part of my family's income and the Sustainability and development of this dream and project at the Mount of Oaks.

The VALUE OF EXCHANGE for this amazing learning experience is:

- 500e or 450e – For the first 3 Registrations (EARLY BIRD) or groups of 2 people or more.


- E.mail : [email protected] with the Subject "NATURAL BUILDING COURSE 1 AUG"
- Registration FEE of 100e to secure your place. Details will be provided as you get in touch with us.
We are a NON-PROFIT ASSOCIATION, so for those who require a receipt, that can be provided.


- The Teaching and coaching
- The pdf Manual ( printed by each participant as they wish)
- A tour of all the buildings and history of the Mount of Oaks Permaculture Farm
- ALL delicious meals. Vegetarian, local, organic and seasonal
- Camping space and all facilities ( compost toilets, hot showers, pond to swim, places to relax, etc)
- Pick ups and Drop off s from ALPEDRINHA train station. ( If you require to be picked up in Fundão or Castelo Branco, there are additional costs)
- Daily stretching /yoga ( to be confirmed)

NOTE: We suggest people arrive the evening before the course starts, so dinner that night and camping are also included :-) 

FOR OTHER ACCOMODATION at EXTRA COSTS ( full time and max. 2 ppl)

- Strawbale Room with double bed and all bedding : 250e
- Glamping in a Bell tent with mattress, pillow and sheet ( bring your own blanket or sleeping bag) : 160e

NOTE : Also includes arrival on the previous evening before the course starts.


- There will be a day off, in the middle of the week, to rest, get to know the local area ( There are lots of places of interest in this area...Mountains, lakes, mapped hiking trails, historical villages, restaurants with local food, etc). If you don’t have a personal way of transportation, we can arrange among those who have, or there are also nice walking trails around us.
- For those who prefer to stay and chill out or relax, we will not provide meals apart from the self- service breakfast, so that our staff can also have a break. There is a cafe-snack bar that provides cheap meals and take aways. It’s a 20 minute walk , and vegetarian is not guaranteed 

So, there s a lot of information to take in.
If you have any more questions, please let us know on the same Email address provided.
If you think this is what you or some of your friends are looking for in 2020, get in touch or share it.
Thanks .

Happy days!!!!

12238312 1048987141786594 2593097870107794565 o 32104838 1887982987887001 2070584126875893760 n 12748013 1114225268596114 1886859786331693491 o 17880767 1466112853407352 4606152750543478130 o 40194714 2059070274111604 7078570441312305152 n

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to comment.

My Permaculture Qualifications
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Lesley Martin
Location: Mount of Oaks - Portugal
Date: Apr 2009
Other course verified
Strawbale building workshop
Type: Other
Teacher: Lesley Anne Martin
Location: Mount of Oaks - Portugal
Date: Jun 2010

Report Barbara Leite


or cancel

Hide Barbara Leite


or cancel



or cancel



or cancel