Participate in a 4 Week Intensive Permaculture Course in Ecuador and Learn New Skills to Change the World for the Better
Destruction of forests and jungles for farming; global warming; a reliance on oil and fossil fuels; badly managed land and water usage; are the challenges of the modern world such as these weighing on your mind? Do you want to DO something about it? Do you want to LEARN about alternative systems and methods which will work with nature, rather than against it? Do you want to help DISSEMINATE these new ideas into the wider world, and create a brighter future? Then look no further, as NGO Taxi, along with its partners, offer you the chance to take part in a workshop which will give you the understanding and skills to do this very thing…
GAIN THE SKILLS TO HELP IMPLEMENT NEW AND SUSTAINABLE WAYS OF FARMING AND CHANGE THE WORLD!
- Food and accommodation.
- Pickup from nearest town.
- Pre-arrival welcome pack.
- Welcome dinner.
- Complimentary t-shirt.
- All course materials and activities.
- 24 hour support.
Course or Workshop Description
In this age of climate change, peak oil, intensive farming and overuse of land, several new schools of thought are emerging that are challenging traditional methods of producing food and resources. One of these, permaculture, advocates methods of farming which work within the natural structure and cycle of the land, water sources, and animal and plant life, so as not to harm the Earth either in the present day or in generations to come. Some of the central principles of permaculture include: working within lunar cycles; composting and worm farming; utilizing mulch; the use of natural insecticides and pesticides; and alternative energies.
This 4 week intensive course offers you the chance to learn about all of these methods and more, through a program of theoretical and practical modules taken over a period of 4 weeks. With the lessons learned, the course provider hopes to unleash on the world a new breed of sustainably-minded individuals who have the skills and abilities to disseminate the ideals and practices of permaculture throughout the globe, and to begin the fundamental and necessary changes that are needed to nurture our Earth back to health.
Course or Workshop Content
- The history of conventional farming and problems with our current food system.
- The principles of organic farming, soil/plant relationships, the law of return, diversity, rotation etc.
- The value of organic matter in the soil.
- Composting: urban composting, trench and hole methods, cold composting, hot composting, bokashi, microorganism traps.
- Green manures and using legumes.
- Visit to the environmental school.
- Plant associations and rotations of companion plants, plant families and a garden planning project.
- Plant nutrition.
- Organic fertilizers.
- Seed saving.
- The principles of permaculture.
- Principles and ethics, design, multiple use species, integration of resources, composting toilets, keyline design, alternative energies, bike power, etc.
- Permaculture design project.
- Liquid fertilizers and vinegars.
- Worm farming.
- Soils and soil testing.
- Permaculture design presentations.
- Weeds and wild foods.
- Traditional use of the moon calendar in agriculture.
- Mulch gardening, minimum till technology.
- Double dig gardening – the French intensive method.
- Natural farming.
- Pest and disease management.
- Student presentations.
- The identification of viral, fungal and bacterial problems.
- Deficiencies and problems of insect traps and repellents.
- Natural insecticides, beneficial insects, etc.
- Organic standards and certification.
- Land restoration – conversion to organic agriculture from a conventional system.
- Biodynamic farming: history, principles, cosmic influences, preparations.
- Animal welfare and organic animal production.
- Organic certification.
- Cultural afternoons with activities including: paper recycling, chocolate making, crafts, hikes, horse riding, etc.
Additional Optional Visits
- Isla Corazón.
- Whale watching (during the season).
Classes are held from 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with lunch between 12pm and 1.30pm. You are also asked to help feed the animals before breakfast, and activities are often held during the evenings (such as film nights or cultural events) from 7.30pm. Wednesday afternoons are free for doing a great selection of cultural activities including chocolate making, hikes, shrimp fishing, clay face mask, crafts with palm seeds and gourds, etc.
Course or Workshop Dates
Please note that this course is ONLY available during the dates specified below.
July 24th – August 12th.
July 23rd – August 17th.
November 5th – November 30th.
The farm is located on the coast of Ecuador, its closest city being half an hour away.
The farm itself boasts 9.5 hectares of land. This land is divided into distinct areas: food forests, gardens and orchards, pastures, agroforests and renewable energy areas. More than 60 crops are rotated throughout the year, and the farm is home to a large number of animals of all shapes, sizes, and personalities: horses, cows, ducks, composting worms, cats, dogs, pigs, and guinea pigs among them.
Once in the nearest city, there are frequent onward buses to other major Ecuadorian centers, as well as several other small towns en route. Pickup from the nearest town is included in the price, although you can be met at the nearest airport for a surcharge.
Accommodation and Food
The farm offers volunteers dorm style accommodation, holding between 2 to 12 people. However, you can also opt to upgrade to their rustic but very comfortable bamboo and straw cabañas for a surcharge. All accommodation includes either mosquito nets or screens, powerpoints, and either a shared or private bathroom consisting of a compost toilet and, in some, a solar-powered shower. Please be aware that, as you will be staying in the jungle, you may receive the odd insect visitor in your room!
3 meals are served daily to all guests, and shared as a family. Most of the ingredients come fresh from the farm, although a few things are brought in from nearby towns. The majority of meals are vegetarian, although occasionally fish or squid is served, and very occasionally white meat. Red meat, however, is not provided. The farm can usually accommodate any special dietary requirements; please advise them in advance.
There is filtered water available on the farm, and fresh bottled water is easily available throughout Ecuador.
Things to Bring
- Reusable water bottle.
- Long-sleeved tops and long trousers which you don’t mind getting dirty, preferably of cotton.
- Lightweight rain jacket, just in case.
- Sneakers or hiking boots.
- Sandals or flip flops.
- Weekend/evening clothes.
- Biodegradable soap (i.e. glycerin soap).
- Biodegradable detergent (or you can pay a small fee to have your clothes washed for you).
- Sun hat.
- Insect repellent.
- Bite relief cream.
- Basic medical kit, along with any specific medicines you need.
- Some good books.
- A mosquito net, if you want.
- Camera with zoom (if you want to catch some moments).
- Notebook and stationery (to take notes for the course).
- Spending money.
NB: the farm has an ongoing project with the local community. Any books that you would like to donate, fiction or nonfiction, English or Spanish, would be greatly appreciated. Second-hand computers which are working and in good condition are also needed for giving classes.
This course is designed for those people with little or no experience in the field of permaculture, but who have a strong desire and eagerness to learn about permaculture methods, non-intensive farming and alternative ways of producing food and living within nature. For those who have already completed the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) and who have been awarded the relevant certification, this course is an excellent opportunity to gain some additional practical experience. Please note that although course does provide a certificate of course completion, this is not PDC certification. This is a more practical course which covers the majority of the curriculum of the PDC but also many additional subjects, which will give participants a more rounded understanding of permaculture and its implementation in the world.
As with any kind of participation in an educational workshop, you should be eager and willing to learn, be able to get on well with a variety of people, and have the drive to work independently as well as in a team. A good level of physical fitness is also required, as clearly a significant portion of the course consists of outdoor activities. In general, as with any work or travel within South America, you should be ready to respond to changes and deal with the unexpected.
As the course is held in English, nothing more than basic Spanish is really necessary. Having said this, a few of the practical modules will be taught by Spanish speakers, in addition to which being able to converse at least a little with the local populace always enriches your experience; therefore, conversational Spanish would be a useful skill to have. Never fear though – NGO Taxi can arrange a variety of Spanish courses for all participants which can be undertaken either in their home countries (through Skype and online learning), or once in South America and before the project start. If you choose to study with us in Ecuador you can do this before your project in either one of the main cities of Ecuador or in a city on the coast close to your project site (please note that the options are subject to different prices). Do not hesitate to contact us for more information!
Additional Information and Specials
16 (with parental consent).
- Accommodation and bedding.
- Three meals a day, seven days a week (but only when you are on the farm; off-farm expenses are not included).
- Pickup from the nearest town.
- Pre-arrival information pack.
- Welcome Dinner.
- Complimentary t-shirt.
- Rubber boots and protective gloves.
- Reading materials for the course, e.g. on organic and biodynamic farming and permaculture.
- Any visits and activities stated within the course itinerary.
- 24 hour support.
- Transport when on the farm.
- Weekend activities and food/drinks when off the farm.
- International flight.
- Spanish course.
Immunizations and Health Advice
Since you’ll be living in the coastal forest of a developing country and coming into contact with both domestic and exotic animals, it is absolutely necessary that you have current immunizations. This includes, among others: yellow fever (certified), tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, and rabies. You’ll receive exact information pertaining to immunizations needed in Ecuador, as well as your personal preliminary documentation, following your successful application with us.
You can inquire in advance concerning immunization requirements by consulting medical authorities in your country of origin, e.g. in the US, check with the Centers for Disease Control and Protection http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ecuador.
The farm is almost mosquito free; however, a greater amount can be found in coastal areas nearby. Both courses are held during the dry season when the risk of mosquito-borne disease is VERY low. However, although the risk is very low, there have been some cases of both dengue and malaria in the wet season, so if you plan to stay longer or travel more around the coast be sure to take precautions such as long clothing, insect repellent, and antimalarials if advised by your doctor. At some points of the year ticks can be found, although these are a nuisance rather than a health risk.
Free Time Activities
Your free weekends are sure to be full during this course! At the farm itself, you are welcome to relax on the grounds, bird watch, hike around the valley, or do the ‘lookout trail’. However, many people choose to venture to the seaside. There, you can take in the rays or enjoy the surf; sip cocktails from a hammock: go horse riding along the sands; enjoy a little bit of town life; or visit nearby islands. As Ecuador is a fairly small country, one could even head along the coast to Puerto Lopez and Isla de la Plata (the July course coincides with the whale watching season). Quito, the Cotopaxi volcano, and the Quilotoa loop are all further afield but still easily reachable.