Thought I'd share a snippet of my travels, one of the most important for my sustainability education.

At the end of February I spent a week Wwoofing on a sustainable farm near Malviera da Serra, not far from Lisbon in Portugal. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my six months in Europe, and I'm positive this is down to the way we spent our days.

The perfect ratio of a day it seems, is:

Wake up at 7.30 to views over rolling hills down to the rocky coastline. Having an old sea fort visible in your view amps up the romance. I definitely recommend it.

Everybody helps to cook a quick breakfast - thanks to Mariana for the BYO of cheese from your workplace/farm in Italy (half goat, half cow, since it takes something like 10 litres of goat's milk to make 1kg of cheese). Coffee. Lots of coffee. Tip your grounds into the mushroom box. The coffee slurry will make a great acidic mushroom environment!

Boots on, pat the dog, head down the chilly cobblestone driveway to the orchard armed with tools for trimming the peaches and assorted other stone fruit which, since it is winter, look like naked and shivering old men.

Spend 3-4 hours trimming the orchard - between four people you can get a lot done! And strip down and chop up the twigs for the homemade pizza oven for use in the summer. Talk about British Comedy. A lot. Also have conversations with your host about Aristotle, the orchestra of the planets, and the age of Aquarius. Don't worry if you're cold. The sun will get over the pines at half past ten and then you'll be bathed in warm Mediterranean sunshine. Keep the sleepy little peach buds on the trimmed branches to stick in your ponytail. You're already dirty, twigs are just decoration.

When you're done trimming, you can build a garden border with woven dead palm leaves and stakes made from the orchard branches.

Take the tour of the marvelous biodome greenhouse complete with windmill-powered drip-irrigation your host has invented himself from welded scraps and three layers of clingwrap.

Around 1.30pm head back up the cobblestones, past the flowering aloes, drinking in the view of the coast, and start preparing lunch for your excellent host and the other two woofers. Eat lunch together, with a glass of Medronho if you're feeling adventurous, or just a locally grown, family produced red wine if you're not.

Spend the afternoon drowsing in the sunshine, pedalling the bike-powered washing machine, or exploring the nearby Sintra National Park and castles.

Head home, and make a communal dinner on the homemade gas 'oven'. Dine beneath a chandelier powered by a small windmill (Portugal is windy!). Shower only if you can stand the cold water by the light of the solar lamp (the gas takes at least 15 minutes to heat the water, and being an Australian I could not in good conscience leave the water running that long!). Retire to the fireplace. Drink Medronho or Porto, and listen to your host's stories about Portugal's history, or head to Lisbon to taste the incredible seafood and drink on one of the hilltops overlooking the harbor.

I can't recommend Wwoofing highly enough for people who have a little knowledge about building, gardening or engineering (Wwoofing hosts do get frustrated when people show up and do little work - they are feeding you and giving you a place to sleep for free after all). It's a wonderful way to exchange knowledge about permaculture, gardening and sustainable living.

Just being able to slot into another person's already pre-arranged sustainable lifestyle made me realise how easy it is to make some changes that make things more ecologically friendly, and just how little I need to live a fulfilled and happy life.

Many thanks to Carlos, my wonderful host, for making me feel at home and bringing me many of Portugal's fantastic cakes to try (and who simply could not have been more generous), and Mister Archer, the German Shepherd who was our guide on our walk along the coast.