Go Volunteering and Get to Grips with Sustainable Farming Techniques
Have you ever fancied working on real-life farm? Are you interested in gaining new knowledge and skills regarding crop cultivation, animal care, organic farming, and natural production methods? Do you want to learn about alternative, sustainable systems and methods of food production and waste management which will work with nature rather than against it? Do you enjoy outdoors and, at times, labour intensive work? Then look no further, as NGO Taxi, along with its partners, offer you the chance to take part in a volunteering program, with the option to add on a part-time permaculture course, which will give you the opportunity to do all of these things…
€ 1099,00 – first month
€ 1049,00 – second month
€ 999,00 – third month, and after
GET HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE AND SOME ROCK SOLID UNDERSTANDING OF SUSTAINABLE LIVING/ FARMING!
- Accommodation and food.
- Pickup from the nearest town.
- Rubber boots and protective gloves.
- Pre-arrival welcome pack.
- Welcome dinner.
- Complimentary t-shirt.
- All course materials and activities.
- 24 hour support.
This 4 week program combines the chance to volunteer on a working farm with learning about the principles of organic farming and permaculture. It is the opportunity to get some first-hand experience of new and exciting farming methods which are on their way to changing the world in terms of self-sustainable living and food production, as well as getting the practical experience and knowledge of volunteering in the Ecuadorian countryside close to the Pacific coast. Plus, it cannot be denied that seeing the fruits of your efforts, after a good day of work in the field, is a thing of triumph! So, if the prospect of working outdoors, learning about plant cultivation and revolutionary ways of producing food, and helping in a worldwide effort to create a more sustainable future appeals to you, then read on…
Please note: There is also a part-time permaculture course available (course content and dates outlined below).
Duties are split between the morning and the afternoon, the morning activities being based in the gardens and pastures, while the afternoon tasks focus on construction and maintenance, administrative tasks, and work within the local community. Typical morning projects include: sowing seeds; planting; weed and pest control; fertilizing; composting; caring for the animals; and recycling of organic and non-organic waste. Those of the afternoon may be: carpentry or construction tasks; mural painting; organization of information panels; maintenance of infrastructure (i.e. of bridges and water pipes); upkeep of paths and trails; production of marmalades, jams and vinegars; and garden design.
You will work from Monday to Friday between 8.30am – 4pm.
If you are taking the part-time permaculture course combined with your volunteering program, you will take classes 3 times a week, either mornings or afternoons, with the remaining time being filled with voluntary duties (to which the same work hours apply).
In both cases, 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 making, crafts with palm seeds and gourds, etc.
Self-sustainable Living: Chapters
- The problems of conventional farming.
- The principles of organic farming.
- The value of organic material and what it does in the soil; how we can increment the OM levels.
- Theory and practice of composting: hot and cold composts, urban composting, trench composting, bokashi.
- Alternative kinds of fertilizers and liquid fertilizers.
- Compost tea and vinegars.
- Effective microorganisms.
- Worm farming.
- Moon influences.
- Permaculture design: zones; sectors; functional analysis; animals in permaculture; urban design; creative design; etc.
- Mulch gardening.
- Double dig gardening.
- Plant protection – pests and diseases (imbalances).
- Beneficial insects and how to attract them; methods of management.
- Biodynamic farming, cosmic influences and biodynamic preparations.
- Seed saving.
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 project 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, in some, and 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!
Three 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 nearby towns. The majority of meals are vegetarian, although occasionally fish or chicken is served. 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).
- Other toiletries.
- 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 organic farming, but who have a strong desire and eagerness to learn about the discipline and its methods. It will also greatly help volunteers understand their work on the farm.
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 your voluntary duties and the practical modules of the course will be labor intensive. 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, many of the employees are Ecuadorian, and a few of the practical modules will be taught by Spanish speakers. 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
1st or 3rd Sunday each month.
(Individual arrival dates possible, surplus applies).
Length of stay:
The camps typically last 4 weeks, although extra weeks or months can be added.
- Accommodation and bedding.
- Three meals a day, seven days a week (but not on the days when you are not on the farm).
- Pickup from the nearest town.
- Pre-arrival information pack.
- Welcome dinner.
- Free t-shirt.
- Rubber boots and protective gloves.
- For course only: Reading materials for the course: e.g. on organic and biodynamic farming and permaculture.
- For course only: Any visits and activities stated within the course itinerary.
- Certificate of achievement upon program completion.
- 24 hour support.
- Local transport when on the farm.
- Weekend activities and food/drinks when off the farm.
- International flight.
- Spanish lessons.
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.
Please make sure that you have up-to-date vaccinations for all of these diseases. NGO Taxi cannot be held responsible for the provision of vaccinations for their volunteers. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure that they have followed up-to-date medical advice.
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.
*ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITY AVAILABLE*
The farm is looking for a long-term bilingual volunteer to assist a single teacher of 35 in a local school. Please contact us if you are interested.
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.