About Laura


From as early as I can remember I have experienced a deep connection with wildlife and plants spending much of my childhood in the woods around our home climbing and talking to the trees. As I grew up I was devastated and confused by the environmental destruction I saw on the news and was obsessed about environmental politics from the age of 11. With a burning desire to bring about change I went to University to study Ecology and immediately became involved in environmental direct action, campaigning against a range of issues including new roads, climate change and genetic engineering. Me and my fellow activists saw that all of these issues were but symptoms of a dysfunctional system and we vowed to bring down the system of capitalism itself. It seemed to me that everything was tainted by capitalism, there were no ethical choices left to make and I felt I was "against" everything.
I spent most of my time and energy trying to persuade people to change their views and lifestyles using any means necessary and became despairing when my message and actions seemed to fail to even start to bring about the revolution needed to bring down the system. I lived by the saying “The earth isn´t dying it is being killed and the people killing it have names and addresses”. Despite my authentic intention to bring about positive change, I carried a deep sense of separation from those ´killing´ the planet which simply increased my hopelessness and would lead to black depression. I frequently burnt out and used drink and drugs to escape from the world and my own mind.
Increasingly I felt that my actions were not bringing about fast enough change and my heart yearned for wild nature and especially birds so I started to give more of my time to wildlife conservation and research. I studeid and worked abroad and on a remote island reserve in Scotland called Handa. Although in some ways I was in my element, living in the most beautiful location and surrounded by epic numbers of wildlife, still I continued to feel suicidally depressed and drink alcoholically which confused me and everyone around me. I spent two years trying to stop drinking, trying every method I could find short of actually stopping drinking! Over this time my drinking got so bad that gradually I pushed away everything and everyone I loved and ended up homeless and hopeless. At last in this state of desperation, I was ready for rehab where I sobered up with the help of the 12-step programme of recovery. The 12-steps are a spiritual solution to addiction and it took a lot for me to overcome my closed and atheist attitude to life. But thanks to the gift of desperation I opened my mind just wide enough to let the new ideas in. Slowly and unsteadily I developed a faith in something powerful beyond my small self. I didn´t know what this something was but just that I needed to surrender to it daily and allow it to permeate and guide my life.
With this new outlook and an exhilarating feeling of having been given a second chance at Life, I moved to Wales to follow my passion for plants and lived and worked on an organic vegetable farm. Here I came across the concept of Permaculture and realised I´d been trying to live like this for years without knowing it had a name. I’d spent my life observing nature and being awestruck by the perfection and efficiency of natural systems. It seems utterly intuitive to me that to live sustainably, happily and we should imitate natural systems, combining the intelligence of man with the wisdom of nature to care for ourselves and the planet. In search of a longer growing season, more experience and forest gardens I decided to WOOF abroad. I was really drawn to Portugal, though I wasn’t sure why. 
Around this time I had committed to myself that most important priority in my life was my spiritual evolution even though I wasn't even sure exactly what that looked like. So when I found the Awakened Life Project website I was overjoyed to find a vision for Life and Love that I resonated with SO completely. I had assumed it would take years to find a place like this; a community with a coherent vision, committed to evolutionary spiritual growth and sustainable living. When I arrived I wasn’t fully prepared for being totally met and supported on all levels of my being or the love and unwavering commitment to something bigger than themselves by the people I found, namely Pete and Cynthia Bampton who founded the Awakened Life Project (ALP). I found meaning and purpose to my life really for the first time.
I spent 5 years living, loving, learning and co-creating Quinta da Mizarela the hub of the ALP immersing in the values of the project and making them my own. In these years of great evolution and growth I met and married Marko. We had a shared passion for the natural world, especially forests, and a desire to learn to live and thrive harmoniously with nature. Together we conceived of the Awakened Forest Project to do all we could to revive this beautiful area, involving as many people as possible to give something back to the Nature that sustains and enlivens us every day of our lives. We started the reforesting by thinning the pines, planting new trees and creating a copse. We reconstructed the ruins and built a wooden house. We ran courses and retreats and hosted volunteers. 
In October 2017 devastating wildfires hit our region and burnt our home, new forest and all the work we had done on the land. Shortly afterwards, Marko deeply affected by the fires decided he wanted a divorce and later returned to Austria.
After much soul searching I decided to continue the Awakened Forest Project alone, at least initially. I feel privileged to call this wild and life-affirming place home. I live with two amazing dogs Missi and Balu - the most loving and entertaining companions I could wish for  - and Connor the cat who is really the one running the place. I am still a co-creator of ALP and involved in many ALP activities. The Awakened Forest Project is an ALP Project and an emanation and manifestation of Evolutionary Love in Action and my joy to live. 


Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Helping Nature to get back on her feet after years of monoculture and wildfires.
Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Would you like to come and help plant some native forest, learn about ecosystem regeneration and reconnect with Nature and yourself? Then join us on an Awakened Forest Project work weekend.
Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Sunday December 1st 10.30 - 4pm

Another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.


It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.


Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.