Robert Alcock

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since Mar 25, 2014
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Recent posts by Robert Alcock

Hi, I see this was posted 3 years ago & I wondered if you have any updates to post?
We have a lot of blue gum monoculture plantations in our area (Cantabria, Spain, with rainfall of approx. 1200mm/year) -- so far fire hasn't been a big problem but I suspect it's only a matter of time. So we are interested in ways of recovering these plantations, which are typically clear-felled on an 8-12 year rotations. One interesting possibility I'd like to try is planting _Paulownia_, a fast-growing, N-fixing genus of trees.
I also remember reading somewhere of the use of _Cannabis sativa_ to regenerate soils after Eucalyptus...
9 months ago
Hi folks,

I'm writing from Abrazo House ecological learning centre in Cantabria, northern Spain, where we are embarking on an expansion of our 16-year-old food forest on a newly purchased 2-hectare site, with a special focus on nut trees as canopy species: sweet acorns (encina), chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, heartnuts, hicans, butternuts, etc. etc.

As the threat of climate change has become an imminent reality, we need to think about planting varieties that are going to thrive in a warmer future, so we are looking to source trees from southern Portugal/Spain which will be able to cope with the projected climate in a few decades. So, I'd like to ask permies who are based in that region —especially southern Portugal which has a similar maritime climate to ours—for their recommendations for the best nurseries and contacts for sourcing permaculture plants, especially nut trees.

Muchas gracias,


PS. You might like to check out our newly relaunched ]website.
1 year ago
Hi all

We're based in Eastern Cantabria. Rather closer to the big cities of Santander & Bilbao than most places in the region so land prices are accordingly higher, but on the other hand we have easy access to the dubious benefits of civilisation.

Our site: Abrazo House

1 year ago
Hello all,

Just to let you know I am posting up this year's version of the Natural Cycles Calendar for your delight and edification.

Unfortunately website issues mean I am no longer able to post the calendar up on our website,, for you to download it.
However, if you sign up for our quarterly newsletter then you'll get the calendar attached to that.
Happy new year to you all,


5 years ago
We are looking for an individual or couple to take care of Abrazo House, our ecological learning centre in Cantabria, northern Spain, for a minimum of 12 months to be extended by mutual agreement, starting in autumn 2017.

You will live for free in Snail Cabin, our cob cabin, including electricity, water, internet, and use of garden produce, in exchange for approximately 20 person-hours a week looking after the site, including cleaning the houses, cutting and raking the grass, cultivating and harvesting produce from the forest garden and vegetable garden, maintenance and repairs.

This is an outstanding opportunity for young people who want to get into the field of ecological education. If you wish, you will have the chance to organise ecological learning events (courses, workshops, etc.) at Abrazo House using the site facilities. It also includes the chance to earn additional income managing holiday rentals.

For more information or to apply, please visit our website.

5 years ago
Two hybrid cob-straw bale houses with roundwood post-and-beam structure and green (living) roof, with superb potential for autonomous low-impact living, each on 2200m2 of south-sloping woodland, in a small village with stunning views and excellent communications.

Each of the two houses is 60m2 with 60m2 attached workshop/garage. Each is on its own 2200m2 plot of land with outstanding views over the beautiful Aras valley, in a small village with excellent communications: 10 min from the A-8 motorway, 15 min from Laredo, 35 min from Santander, 50 min from Bilbao.

The houses are fully legal with architects’ plans and municipal and provincial permits.

The houses are located in a village with mains water and electricity at the entrance to the site, but are designed to facilitate the option of going fully off-grid.

The guide price for each house is €135,000. There is an option of interest-free payment of part of the total cost, over a time period of up to five years.

Please see for full details or to get in touch.

5 years ago
We are seeking partners to drive the next stage in the development of Abrazo House (, an ecological education project based in Cantabria, N Spain.

We are looking for a few committed, grounded people who will build on our work since 2006, and lead the transformation of Abrazo House into an economically self-sustaining project that will carry forward our vision of Learning for Earth Restoration, running bilingual programmes in English and Spanish that nourish four areas of holistic learning: Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual and Practical.

With our help, support and guidance, you will take full responsibility for setting up and running an autonomous social enterprise based at our unique facilities in a small village near the north coast of Spain, attracting students of all ages from near and far to courses that offer the best in ecological education, while taking advantage of what our unique region has to offer the world.

This task is not for the faint-hearted. We are looking for partners who are committed to the urgent work of learning for ecological restoration, who are willing and able to do what it takes.

If you think this might be you, please read the attached pdf and get in touch via our website:

6 years ago
Hi Akua,

Good to see you're enthusiastic about cob, but a warning: cob is not necessarily the right material for a house in a humid tropical climate. You may end up with a house that is too hot and humid inside. Look at local housing methods that have stood the test of time; in many humid tropical areas these involve lightweight structures that allow the breezes to flow through...

The first rule of ecological building is to respond to the context.
6 years ago
You really want those gutters as a way to channel excess water off the roof safely. Much better to install a rainwater catchment system, plant a climber near the overflow (so it can help use the water you can't store) and then train that climber back up over your roof, doing the same job as you propose. But watch out, you'll need to clear out all the leaves or else you'll end up with plants in your gutters for sure!
6 years ago
Hi Irene

The website doesn't seem to be working anymore (or maybe it does but I can't read Dutch). Any progress to report on this project?


6 years ago