Last revised: 11 November 2019
We are forming an eco-village that is transparently co-directed by its members, and accessible to all who share our vision. There are options for volunteering, joining the community as a member, and even buying land if you want the legal assurance of your name on a title. Please email us if you have questions (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are fortunate enough to be located about 45 minute drive (or 45 minute boat ride) south of our "sister community," Terra Frutis (https://www.terrafrutis.com).
Interested members should expect to live with us for 6 months to see if they are a good fit and share the community's values of raw foods, commitment to health and positive lifestyle, non-violence and compassion in actions and speech, and decentralized organizational structures. After this trial period, the rest of the community may extend an invitation for membership in the community. All members must start as "volunteers." For more info, check out our volunteer page. At any point in this process, one can be approved to buy a share of land and become a landowner. More info on our group land buy page. We encourage all potential community members to consider buying land, as it provides more benefits and "cements" one's involvement in the project.
This part of Ecuador has a tropical climate with around 1900mm of annual rainfall. The rainfall profile is somewhat even, with the driest months being December, January, and the beginning of February. The hottest month is November and the coolest month is June. It rarely goes below 18 Celsius at night. The climate is sufficient for super-tropicals such as durian and rollinia. Daytime temps can be between 20 and 30 depending on rain/cloudiness and if the sun has been out for a while. Nighttime temps can be between 18 and 20 and occasionally dip down as low as 15 but only a few nights per year.
When is the best time to come?
That depends on your preferences in terms of weather and fruit.
All year round, there is an excellent selection of various fruits, both from the local market, neighbors' farms, and our farm. Bananas and papayas are always available, and other things depending on the seasons.
From approximately September to January, it is the drier part of the year, and the mangoes are highest quality (we mostly get Edward mangos until January and Kent in January and February.)
From March to August is the wetter part of the year, with more rain. But, March and April are the height of the local fruit seasons. During this time of year you can try rare delicacies such as iniáku (nacho cheese fruit) and abiu, ice cream bean, zapote, Amazon tree grape, rollinia, and many others.
Ice cream bean season starts in January and extends for a few months. Local citrus season starts around February and goes until July/August. Iniáku and Abiu are only March and April, same with mamey sapote. Rollinia tends to start in February or March and go until August with a few later in the year. Local avocados tend to be available in August / September but randomly throughout the year.
So basically, if you prefer a bit drier weather and great mangos (mostly grown on the coast of Ecuador but some locally) you should come between September and February. If you want more exotic local fruits and the true Amazon rainforest experience, come between February and August. If you want to come at the height of peak local fruit availability, come for March and April. And of course, if you come in January you should buy tickets to the Amazon Fruit Festival which is hosted nearby at Terra Frutis.
FruitHaven may be accessed via motorcycle, but not by car (the bridge is only wide enough for motorcycles and foot traffic.) It is a five-minute walk from the road on a well-maintained path. There is also boat access, a 2-minute boat ride from the road. The property is riverfront on the east bank of the Rio Zamora. Rio Zamora is navegable by boat from Chuchumbleza north to Proveeduría. There is regular bus service from Chuchumbleza to the nearby cities Gualaquiza (35 minutes north) and El Pangui (10 minutes south.) Chuchumbleza has an internet cafe, a school, a church, and a few small storefronts. Gualaquiza and El Pangui both have large central markets, bus terminals, and numerous well-stocked hardware stores.
The farm currently produces bananas, papayas, bananas, plantains, rollinias, mandarin oranges, lemons, pitahaya, local granadilla, giant passionfruit, ice cream bean, and a few local/wild fruits. These mainly fruit during the season, January through July, with a few things year round or randomly fruiting like bananas, papayas, peanut butter fruit, various citruses, etc. We are planting many additional varieties of tropical fruits such as durian, marang, mangosteen, jackfruit, cempedak, etc.
Note that as we recently started the project and are working to plant more fruit trees, the farm currently does not produce enough food to provide for all the food needs of community members. Production is gradually increasing, but please do not expect to "live off the land" until you've spent a good amount of time yourself planting fruit trees and being patient. There are nearby fruit markets, as well as neighbors' farms, where fruit can be purchased. You can also buy your own land and plant your fruit trees to live self-sufficiently.
The most abundant fruit crops currently are plantains, bananas, and papayas (year round) and mandarin oranges, rollinia, and abiu (both seasonal.)
Examples of fruit prices at market: Rack of oritos/baby bananas, $1-$2. Rack of big bananas, $3-4. Oranges and mandarins in season, 10-15/$1. Papayas, $0.25-$1.50 depending on size, a bit more for freakishly huge ones (like $2-$3.) Rollinia $1-$4 but sometimes hard to find. Soursop can be $3-$8. Cherimoya $0.75-$4.00. Watermelon price varies a lot depending on time of year; the lowest is $2. Avocado $0.25-$0.50/ea.
Currently we have a community house and workshop. The house has electricity and running water. There are 5 bedrooms in the house and there is a one-room cabin nearby. There is Internet access at the house.
We use principles from consensus decision-making and sociocracy, to organize a community group that is relatively free from hierarchy and involuntary centralization. We hold community meetings once per week. We schedule regular group activities to keep people involved and learning. See our community bylaws.
We are a drug-free community. That said, the occasional dabble in a plant-based spiritual experience is not an issue. However, we encourage you to seek a different community if you have an unresolved dependency issue with alcohol, marijuana, or similar substances or if you promote their regular use. If you want to smoke marijuana every single day and think this policy doesn't apply to you because "marijuana is not a drug," that's fine, just find a different community to do that at.
There are not many not many mosquitoes, though there are gnats/no-see-ums, and most newcomers have an issue with gnats biting. Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks in the morning and evening when they come out, and you will be fine. The temperature is comfortable enough that this is not an issue during those times.
Rarely, someone is very sensitive to the insects and gets many, many gnat bites, especially on their neck and face. This has only happened to 3 or 4 people out of around 400 who have passed through both communities in this area.
Families and Children
We aim to be a sanctuary where people feel safe raising children in a community of like-minded people. Currently, our community house is not big enough to accommodate families for a long period of time. Until we get more community structures built, we encourage families to consider staying for shorter periods of time, or buying a plot of land here so that they can build their own structures/homestead areas. See "group land buys" above.
Malaria and Yellow Fever are extremely uncommon in this region. Dengue and Chikungunya do exist but have a very low prevalence. The government requires no vaccines for legal entry.
Ecuador Tourist Visas
Ecuador gives tourists from most countries a free 90-day visa stamp upon entering the country, with no previous paperwork required and no application process. Towards the end of this 90 days, one may purchase a 90-day extension for $134, and after that, an additional 180 days (fee unknown, the law was recently changed.) For more information, see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3zuusKpL5Y
Ecuador Residency Visas
Ecuador grants residency visas to individuals with 4-year college degrees. Other options are marrying someone with legal residency, being the parent of a child born in the country, investing $39,400+ in a CD or business, buying $39,400+ worth of land, or having a pension or rental income of at least $800/month.
Cost to Build a House
The cost to build a house on the land depends on many factors. A small, simple, one-room-shack type house built with locally sourced materials and metal sheet roofing could cost only a few hundred dollars if all the work is done by yourself and fellow community members. A 1-2 room wood house built by carpenters could cost $4-$8k USD depending on a wide variety of materials choices and other factors. A very simple platform/pole/roof structure could be a bit cheaper, perhaps $500-$2000. If you are a trustee (property owner) of one of the Fruit Haven group buy lands, we have a PDF guide for developing and building on your lot, which includes more detailed cost estimates. Check out the group land buys page to find this PDF.