Tropical Farm Experience ( Volunteer opportunities) Print E-mail

an international team of volunteers in front of their lodgingBosque de Paz is a good place to learn about the amazing biodiversity of Ecuador and to discover the many tropical fruits that are grown on the property. Here, sustainable, organic forest-farming is put in practice, based on the principles and techniques of Ecological Restoration, Agroforestry and Permaculture. Bosque de Paz offers the possibility to partake in this activities as a volunteer. 

For low budget visitors and travelling students "volunteering" has become a very popular way of getting a better insight into the country, gathering experience and (why not !) feeling the satisfaction of being useful while having a good time.

Many organizations in Ecuador offer so-called volunteer opportunities. However, very few, if any, can actually provide the real exchange of room and board for your work without charging a fee.
The reasons for this are many - the main one being that the economic circumstances in most Latin American countries simply do not permit them to offer this.

planting bamboo with local staffAnother factor is that the living / working situation (in Latin America) is often so different from anything the European / American visitor has experienced that the owner / coordinator must spend much of his time training and explaining. It is almost as if he / she becomes to a great deal the volunteer !
A third obstacle arises when the visitor speaks little or no Spanish and communication then becomes very difficult.
These are some of the reasons that contribute to the necesity of charging a fee to the working visitor in Bosque de Paz and and why we prefer the word intern rather than volunteer.

You are invited to learn about farm-work on a tropical fruit farm, a kind of apprenticeship in rural living. You learn about the people on their land, as well as the hardships and joys facing small farmers in Ecuador. You will learn practical skills such as planting trees, grafting on fruit trees, how to swing the machete and harvest bamboo, bananas and pineapples. Currently, the owners of Bosque de Paz are focussing on the development of the Botanical Garden, which involves a great deal of both physical and administrative work. Also, trail building is an important activity in and around the property. Occasionally you may be involved in guiding visitors around.

You pay a contribution of $US 245 / 4 weeks if you commit for at least 4 weeks, and $US 18 / day if you stay a shorter time. We offer housing (in a dormitory), three meals a day and plenty of fruit and fruit juices. Local farmers may take you to their farms or into the mountains, on foot or on horseback.

Why choose Bosque de Paz ?

machete team ready to attack the weedsFirst of all there is the climate - a good send with an average of 22 º C at 1.000 meters asl, not the cold winds from the Sierra, nor the suffocating heat form the lowlands. And, what a relieve, there is no malaria at this altitude.
Also, Bosque de Paz is small-scale and family-run, it is not one of these giant projects, such as Jatun Sacha, where you wonder who you are working for and whom it serves.
You work directly with Piet and Olda or one of the assistants, and you get first-hand information about the why's and the how's of rural life. Reality in rural Ecuador is very different from daily life in the urbanized area where most of you may come from. Questions such as "why do farmers set fire to the hills ?" or "why do farmers want to emigrate to Spain or the USA?" will get their answer during the weeks you stay in Bosque de Paz.

Bosque de Paz is teaching by example. In less than 15 years Piet has shown how Ecological Restauration works and that a balance between agriculture and forest care is possible. The applied principle, called 'forest farming' is a long-term process that requires a lot of energy and resources. Therefore, your assistance is greatly appreciated. Your time at Bosque de Paz will be an enjoyable and unforgetable experience. 

trabajo duro para machosyour accommodation 

A typical working day

painting signs for the botanical gardenBreakfast between 6:30 and 7:00 am and programming the activities of the day. 

Start work at 7:00 am till 12:00 am, interrupted by one or several breaks with fruit or fruit juice. The type of activities depend on the time of the year. In the dry season a lot of energy will be spent on digging and maintaining irrigation swales, transplanting seedlings in bags and watering the plants in the tree nursery. In the wet season the work will be: pruning trees, cutting weeds, planting trees and bamboo, harvesting fruit, etc.

Some jobs, such as compost making and carrying compost to the plants, are ongoing all year round.

Lunch at noon, followed by a siesta to avoid the heat of the day. Those who feel they worked hard enough in the morning can do some administrative work, painting signs or transplanting seedlings in the afternoon. Usually, in the afternoon work will not extend more than 1,5 hours.

The week schedule is from Monday morning till Saturday at noon. But occasionally, volunteers can leave Friday at noon for a long week-end.

At the beginning of your stay you will receive a tour through the property with an extensive explanation about Ecological Restoration.

What you should know and bring

Bosque de Paz accepts volunteers / interns all year round, however some months notice is required before arrival. Travel, visas and health insurance must be arranged independently. The individual visitor is responsible for this. 

It is recommended to bring the following items with you: a sleeping bag or blankets, cotton gloves with rubber lining, a knife, rubber boots, a hat, a mosquito net and second hand or working clothes, a water bottle or canteen. (Important note: we explicitly request people not to come with throw-away bottles and cans.)

Local villagers and workers in Bosque de Paz will highly appreciate second hand clothes.

a team ready for a hard day of planting

Confirm your visit well ahead, call at 00 593 6 3016606 or write us a E-Mail (Contact). Mind, we have no access to internet in the village and travel once a week to the nearby town of Ibarra to answer mails. Please, be patient.

You find a map and a road description how to get to Bosque de Paz on this website.