Ponderosa Portugal

Eco-pedagogical community for highly talented youngsters at the interface between learning paths and social integration.

The Ponderosa project aims to create an eco-pedagogical community for young people with a special and autonomous development potential. The project started eight years ago in the Netherlands. The initiative has shown increasing success, both in terms of the pedagogical and psychological vision and in terms of practical performance.

For highly talented and sensitive youngsters, the performance and eventual return in society proved not to be self-evident. Their different ways of thinking and consequent performance - often highly self-taught, authentic, experimental, progressive, resourceful and characterized by complex cognitive, social and emotional brain structure - have lead to a lack of identity and social belonging during adolescence. As young adults, they need a dynamic environment that challenges them enough to make a fearless leap into society and find their specific niche for optimal performance. This environment needs to be characterized by curiosity, nuance, imperfection, diversity, caprice and complexity, based on which these young people can discover how to compose their values within meaningful projects of self-identification and professional trajectories.

The Ponderosa in the Netherlands is one of the first development institutions in Europe conceived as a social ecosystem where young people with a specific development potential – highly sensitive, creative and/or highly gifted – can develop their cognitive, creative and sensitive capacities within a natural and community environment. The project – which has been in existence for 8 years – welcomes young people aged 15 to 25 who are unable to develop properly within the regular education system. Based on an organic and unstructured program integrating arts and sciences, ecology and agriculture, new technologies and entrepreneurship, an alternative context is provided for these youngsters to build confidence, resilience and the ability to integrate into society. Most young people finish their journey in the Ponderosa with a diploma to enter higher education and/or with an independent project.

  • 2023-2024

    • Reconstruction of the site in order to create the physical structures for the community to function.

    • Organize international events on ecological construction, agriculture and arts for the project to take shape and breathe the environment it intends to create.

    • Create the partnership and networks needed to carry out the project and build the community.

  • 2023-2026

    • Carry out a European project that encompasses lines of research, training, experimentation and implementation.

  • 2024

    • Kick off the Project.



The Ponderosa in the Netherlands

What is going to happen?