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Permaculture on the Pacific Coast Featured

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Location:  Manabi Province, Ecuador
Type of Assignment: Conservation and sustainability
Project Duration:  Minimum 2 Weeks
Activities: Environmental and community work for sustainable living.


The Organization

How is the Organization involved with the community?

The project was the first agro-ecotourism initiative in Ecuador born in 1989. The farm's hard work with the community in environmental education, organic agriculture, permaculture and responsible tourism has been:

  • Acknowledged and ranked by National Geographic in the top 8 preferred places to stay in Ecuador.
  • Chosen by Channel 5 Quebec as one of the 13 best examples of responsible tourism in the world.

Daily activities on the farm center around sustainability, agro-ecology, permaculture, and ecotourism. By getting local families involved in initiatives, sustainable prosperity reaches and benefits surrounding communities in the region.

Background to the project and its aims?

Farming practices in the region, as in most of the world, tend to be fairly conventional and unsustainable. Destructive clearing, burning, and the use of mono-crops and chemicals destroy the fertility of the soil. In 1987, the farm decided to convert from traditional farming methods to a sustainable system. Today, the farm acts as a role model and place of education for people interested in learning about sustainable living and permaculture.

While permaculture and organic farming is flourishing in the Andes region of Ecuador, few organic farms exist on the Pacific coast. The farm works using sustainable alternatives like:

  • biogas and solar power
  • composting systems
  • worm culture
  • water recycling
  • reforestation
  • forage systems
  • seed collection and exchange (one of the seed centers of the Ecuadorian Seed Savers Network)
  • conservation of heritage seeds and rare and endangered species
  • the promotion of traditional medicine

The farm also established a Community Environmental School to supplement the urgent need for environmental education. By employing local teachers and using international volunteers, students learn about the responsible management of local natural resources, receive a well-rounded education that will prepare them for future employment, and learn about sustainable farming practices which later on they can implement at their own families' farms.

What are the daily volunteer activities in the project?

Farm activities vary through out the month, so volunteers have the opportunity to experience many aspects of agriculture and rural life. Based on the volunteer's skills and wants activities include:

  • harvesting
  • water irrigation
  • preparing meals
  • animal feeding and cleaning (horses, cows, pigs, guinea pigs and chickens)
  • helping with the community school (painting, construction, carpentry)
  • translating, organizing information
  • artwork
  • community outreach
  • infrastructure development (bridges, water pipelines)
  • trail maintenance
  • food transformation (making and jarring sauces, pickles, marmalades)
  • design of gardens and other functional areas

Example of an average day's itinerary:

  • 6:00 – 7:30am: Animal feeding
  • 7:30 – 8:30am: Breakfast
  • 8:30 – 12:00pm: Agriculture
  • 12:00 – 1.30pm: Lunch
  • 1:30 – 4pm: Special projects. Wednesday afternoons we have cultural activities or free time.

Program Details

Quick facts about the trip:

Project duration:  Minimum 2 weeks; one month referred.
Project Location:  Manabi Province, Ecuador
Airport of arrival:  Quito (UIO)
Activities:  Sustainable farming and permaculture.
Working hours: Five days a week, typically Monday-Friday from 6am to 4pm.
Requirements:  No specific skills, but a candidate volunteer must be in good physical condition.

What's included:

Accommodation: Shared rooms in cozy cabins constructed from primarily local materials, bedding is provided. Volunteers can bring their own mosquito net if they want one. Toilets and showers are in separate buildings.
Meals: 3 meals per day 7 days a week. Vegetarian and white meat served.
Airport pickup
Pre-departure Orientation and Onsite Training:: Volunteers receive a comprehensive orientation on safety and security, culture shock, and about being a volunteer in their project. At the farm, most of the training is hands-on and takes place before working on specific projects or chores.
Support::  24/7 during your volunteering time.
Optional activities at the farm:

  • Cultural afternoons: activities include chocolate making, crafts, bee keeping, etc.
  • Reading: there are lots of good books and often a football game in the community.
  • Hiking: There are also a number of walks that you can do from the farm to Canoa and other areas.

What's not included:

Flights, visas, insurance.
Optional activities with an extra charge:

  • Intensive Course in Permaculture and Organic Farming:  offered in May, August and November, as well as other months with a minimum of 4 volunteers.  Click here to learn more about it.
  • Spanish language classes.


Program Duration Cost (USD)
2 weeks 620.00
4 weeks 735.00
6 weeks 1,055.00
8 weeks 1,174.00
10 weeks 1,465.00
12 weeks 1,584.00
16 weeks 1,995.00
20 weeks 2,405.00

All Registration Fees are included in the prices above.