Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Agricultural Apprenticeship Program Ecuador



We are a family farm which is comprised of 24 hectares of land, of which some 12 hectares are native rainforest and 8 hectares cultivated cropland. Wildlife and tropical plants abound including passion flowers and bromeliads, over 200 species of birds, many mammals (Ocelot,Jaguarundi, Kinkajou, etc) and reptiles.

Our prime interest is in agriculture, using sustainable practices like cover crops, alley cropping, and selective regeneration. Besides the orchards and the nursery, there are vegetable and herb gardens, subsistence crops, ornamentals and medicinal plants.

Volunteers work in the mornings, usually with us, at assigned tasks. The machete is the main agricultural tool, but farm chores are varied and include orchard and nursery work, seed collection and processing, food preparation (making jams, vinegar, chocolate, bread, tempeh etc.), construction (often using native materials like palm and bamboo), crafts, botany, natural history, gardening and participation in both household and community life.

If you wish, you may opt to live and work for a time with a neighbouring family. Campesinos have much local knowledge and love of nature. You may also choose a project of your own, and will have plenty of free time to sit in the hammocks and read, hike, swim in the river, etc.


Reserva Rio Guaycuyacu

Santa Rosa, Parroquia Pacto, Pichincha

Some knowledge of Spanish is useful but by no means essential.

Dates of program:
Year round

Duration of program:
1 month minimum

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+

US$300 per month which includes accommodation and food.

Other information:
It can take up to 2 weeks to respond to messages so please be patient. We also accommodate visiting scientists wishing to conduct research in the primary forest. Visiting scientists pay US$15 per days for accommodation and meals.


If you are looking for an in-depth rainforest experience and a wake-up call of how modern development is jeopardizing the biosphere availability, the experience here is as good as it gets
"We learned so much with Mimi and Jim! It is admirable what they are doing with their 30-years old (and ongoing) project there, and how much positive effect their presence has brought to that area of the world and beyond borders. They are role models deploying a fascinating stamina in all their daily activities. We (Jorge and Sylvie) arrived there with the belief of propagating and conserving edible fruit forests as the best practice available to ensure human and planetary flourishing, and couldn't think of anywhere else better to corroborate this. Mimi and Jim went out of their way to accommodate our sleeping arrangements as a couple, and plant-based dietary requirements. They also answered every single question we had prior to arriving and during our apprenticeship time there. However, none of us would have imagined what was about to happen when we finally got there: the last 5 years of being besieged by the so called development projects in that region finally had the environmental balance paying the toll. It was sad to realize that "development and progress" projects have settled in their region and the pollution/contamination that comes with it has reached this part of the rain forest and poses a risk to the clean water supply and sanitation of the nearby homesteads in the perimeter of the hydroelectric's reservoir. After this reality-check Jorge and Sylvie left the project to regroup and have a break to rethink of what it would entail to make these kind of experimental agroforestry systems a replicable model that is scalable the numbers required for both wildlife conservation and the sustenance requirements of a growing human population. One aspect to improve future experiences in this apprenticeship is the resting quarters, since recovering the energy through the night is of major relevance to engage in every activity of the next day (waking up every day at 6AM). But then again, there were many factors combined that couldn't make it possible to foresee this situation, or do something about it to correct this circumstance while staying there. We realize that everyone has a different hygienic standards, and so a good middle ground could be reached if on the one hand future apprentices realize early on that living inside the rain forest entails stretching out of their comfort zone, and on the other hand, having some major maintenance and infrastructure investment done. So, if you are looking for an in-depth rainforest experience and a wake-up call of how modern development is jeopardizing the biosphere availability, the experience here is as good as it gets. We really appreciate the experience with Jim and Mimi, all their knowledge and kindness and really wish to stay in contact and work on the same side."- Jorge Sylvie

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If you visit and apply via the website please mention that you saw this project on volunteerlatinamerica.com.