Hello beautiful humans! Thank you for visiting our page! We love hosting volunteers. This farm absolutely thrives when you are here. With your help, we can do more sowing, more harvesting and dehydrating. We can preserve and try new recipes, make gnocchi and tagliatelle. There are herbs to harvest and store, wildflowers to weed and sow. Trees to water and transplant. Chickens to feed and care for. Compost to rake and compost to fill. Raspberries and strawberries and currants and blueberries to eat (in summer). Your contribution helps us to create a truly bustling singing eating frenzy. Join us for a day or two or a week or some stew. And ….

We are primarily a cooking school and regenerative permaculture farm. We produce food for ourselves, our volunteers, our farm stay guests and when we have excess we barter or sell. Our focus is education and skill-sharing.

We are an LGBTQIA friendly home, just outside the beautiful town of Daylesford, in Victoria, Australia.

We are currently only taking females or people who identify as female, and couples. Big apologies for this, but our daughters prefer it.


Our place is beautiful! And in its infancy. We moved here six years ago on an empty block of land with not a single tree. We are halfway through stage one: a ten-year stage where most of the infrastructure work and building projects are being completed and where all of the revegetation work and landscaping will be done. We have almost finished building our home, the next stage involves completing details.

We split our time on the property between the following tasks: growing food, propagating trees, planting and revegetating our land, teaching, harvesting, preserving, foraging for apples, plums, figs and olives, water conservation consulting, writing and publishing articles, building infrastructure on-site, welcoming guests to our farm, cleaning, pruning trees, weeding our two kitchen gardens, watering trees, guarding trees with netting, selecting plants for future plantings, caring for poultry, harvesting berries from our extensive berry orchard, baking bread, making yogurt, kneading dough for homemade pasta, collecting wild fungi, collecting edible flowers for drying, making soap from lard, drying herbs for teas and stews, looking up books to identify wild edibles, photographing our beautiful countryside, cooking and cooking and applying for grants for revegetation work, sharing our stories on Facebook, Instagram and our website. We are parents and are supporting two daughters through school. Our schedule is abundant and very rich.

We are looking for people who are not only enthusiastic but also reliable, committed, able to contribute with flexibility and proficiency. Someone who is comfortable with words and communication. Who can say “I feel” and “I hope” and “is it possible” and “where can I find” and “would you like me to”…

There is a great deal to learn here. I absolutely love teaching, I thrive on sharing my skills and knowledge and on making the invisible readable. If you are a thirsty and attentive student I would love to teach you.

Very experienced Volunteers

Join us for 6 months or a year.

Take a break from your life, from paying rent, from paying bills, from having to think about the meaning of life or your place in it.

Join us and learn about permaculture, about cooking everything from homemade fresh pasta, to goat and rabbit, to kimchi and fermented garlic.

Learn to grow vegetables, to sow seeds, to harvest and preserve. Become a part of us, a member of our family.

If you are very experienced in growing food or very experienced with cooking and preserving then we offer you a very special opportunity.

Live with us 7 days a week, with all bills: internet, electricity, heating, streaming services, rent and all meals covered in exchange for two full days work-16 hours a week. The remaining five days are yours to do as you wish. And we can talk about all the finer details when you get in touch.

Inexperienced Volunteers
We have been hosting for a long time now and I have hosted two types of people, those that are genuinely interested in learning new skills and those that are interested in a theoretical context as opposed to a doing context. I need you to be genuinely interested in learning the skills in a doing context. And not in a convincing yourself way, not in that forcing yourself to be interesting way, but in that emotionally real way. You will know the difference because as you read this you will either experience excitement at my words or apprehension. If you feel excitement then you are right for us. If we harvest fungi from the forest for our dinner will you be happy to sit for hours to peel and prepare them? If we collect edible flowers from the garden will you be happy to sort them so that we can dry them? Will you be happy to spend hours making pasta using our pasta maker so that we can eat fresh tagliatelle together for our dinner. Will you be happy to spend many hours with me in the garden weeding and pulling out plants and mulching. No two days are the same. There will be days where we do a lot of one task and days where we do many different tasks.

We are playing with a broad range of activities. During your two week stay, you will experience some but not all, as the activities are spread throughout the seasons. Unless you come here with lots of experience or lots of potential and end up staying for 6 months or more. There will be days that are very dynamic where you will move through a medley of tasks and days where you will only do one to two tasks at most.

We need you to be someone who is comfortable with moving through a variety of tasks with cleaning being one of them. I need you to be as enthusiastic about cleaning as all the other tasks.

Our story goes like this. I completed a permaculture course in my 20’s and a Bachelor of Social Science in Environment. I worked as an environmental educator for 20 years. My love, Ralf is a water conservation engineer. Three-quarters of his work is engineering and the other quarter is farm work, building infrastructure, irrigation systems, housing for farm animals (we are working towards having pigs on pasture, a really long term goal as there is still much to be done for them: housing, and water troughs and all the paddock trees we planted need to be guarded), maintenance and repairs, laundry and school lunches, fixing, and retrofitting.

These percentages are not static but change from week to week. I teach cooking, preserving, baking, soap making and manage our farm stay. I manage our revegetation plantings, two kitchen gardens, plant and seed orders, farm stay cleaning and hosting, and all the social media work related to our farm. I am a passionate forager, photographer and community member. I am extremely social and love hosting. I love big chats about all things and sharing my stories and I am looking for people who love to share theirs.

I need you to be the kind of person that asks “what next?” and ‘can I help you?’ and I need you to share in the daily dishes without me needing to ask you. Your proactiveness really matters and contributes to creating a very nurturing space.

We have two kitchen gardens ORTO One and ORTO Two. These gardens are designed to produce food for us, our volunteers and our farm stay guests. Excess is bartered.
The gardens have peaks of productivity and times of quietness. We use animal manures, straw and green manures to fertilise our soil. We hand weed and use a fork to loosen the soil for new seedlings.
We are working towards being self-sufficient in the following crops.
Potatoes, asparagus, garlic, artichokes, tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, kale, lettuce, spinach, eggplants, peas, edible flowers, sunflowers, herbs, beetroot.
And the following fruit trees.
Apples, quinces, persimmons, cherries, plums, apricots, nashi pears, figs, pears.

We have planted thousands of native trees and native grasses.
Our plan is to plant until every corner of our property is thriving.
Along with our corridors are hundreds of trees, banksias, Callistemon, eucalypts, acacias.
The next step is to plant Australian flowers and groundcovers.
I really, really love gardens, I love the habitat they provide, the beauty and peace they share.
We bought 15 acres of land with not a single tree on it, all the plants and trees you will see were planted by us.

I love to have a larder full of preserves made by us. Most of the preserving happens mid-summer to late autumn. We make all of our own passata, jams, pastes. We dry quinces and make quince paste, we dry nashis and apples and pears when available and mushrooms in winter.

Our first project here was our wetland. We completed earthworks and planted various aquatic plants and hundreds of trees around it. The wetland is very beautiful and provides a fantastic habitat for visiting birds, frogs and insects.

We have a 200,000 L water tank. All our waste water is reused on site and we ask that you treat water for the precious resource that it is.

DAY to Day for inexperienced volunteers
Summer to mid Autumn Volunteer times
Start: 6:45am.
Stop 7:30am breakfast
Clean Breakfast dishes 8:30am to 8:45am
Start 8:45am
Stop for lunch 1pm – 2pm
Start 2pm work till 4pm
But like me you will get hungry before 1pm so help yourself to fruit and nuts and toast when you need to.
Your time 4-5:45pm
Start Dinner together 5:45pm.
Your time after dinner

The weekend is all yours to do as you wish.

Winter to mid spring Volunteer Times
Breakfast first 7:15am – 8:15am
Clean 8:15am to 8:45am
Start 8:45am
Stop for lunch 12pm -1pm
Start working together at 1pm
Stop 4pm
Your time 4-5:45pm
Start Dinner together 5:45pm.
Your Time after dinner

We will cook all meals together, lunch and dinner, breakfast is sometimes hot and sometimes not. However, if you are a very competent cook it would be a great pleasure for me to have you finish an hour earlier in exchange for you cooking dinner while I continue with various tasks.

We will share all meals together both during the week and on weekends unless you plan to site visit in which case you are very welcome to take a cut lunch with you or leftovers.
We have many vegetarian meals. In winter our meat consumption increases as we crave warm stews and hot meals. We are sorry but we are not able to host vegans.
We really cherish and welcome people to become a part of our family during their stay and welcome them to join in activities and social gatherings.

We go to bed early, at 9pm and need the house to be very quite from that time onwards.

We use mostly solar hot water and in winter our combustion stove to heat water. This means that we often don’t have a lot of hot water. So if you love having frequent showers some will be warm, some will be cold and only very occasionally will they be very hot.

We are very interested and actively pursuing a low carbon life and very much desire to reduce our waste and resource intensity. We do some things really well and others very poorly. We acknowledge this and look forward to being part of a much more ecologically sustainable world.

We look forward to hearing from you. All the very, very best with your travels.

Arrivederci, Mara

Francesca harvesting cabbage.
Ilka from Australia making pasta.
Francesca from Italy making strawberry kefir.
Leah from Germany cleaning garlic
Strawberries and the exotically named Danish: Nanna naomi khan mølgård
Volunteer fairies Liran and Rina from Israel.
Lavender harvest with Rosa from Austria
Garlic sorting with the beautiful Natalia from Utah.
Cornflower harvest with Adelle and Christine!
Kate and Adelle strawberry harvest
Zepher and strawberry harvest
International naked gardening day with volunteer fairies.
Maria! from Italy.