Volunteer!

Page last updated: 16 February 2020

Come and Volunteer at Fruit Haven

Note: We are not accepting any new February/March 2020 volunteer arrivals at this time. If your arrival is already scheduled at that time, you may still come, but if you haven't yet filled out your arrival confirmation form, please set your arrival date May 1, 2020 or later.

Want to learn about permaculture and volunteer your time to a worthy cause?

If you're interested in coming, please fill out the volunteer questionnaire here.

If you want to stay long-term as a resident/community member, you must start by first volunteering for two months. After that you may become a resident, and after 4 months as a resident, you may become a community member. Note that at any point during this process, you have the opportunity to buy land in the community and start your own homestead.

Read more about the differences between being a volunteer, and being a community member, here.

If you would rather volunteer remotely, read more here.

We are a permaculture fruit forest project in southeast Ecuador! Our goal is to be a successful example for other farms in the area to trust in sustainable methods of farming. We already produce many bananas, rollinias, papayas, and other fruits, and are currently planting dozens of varieties of exotic fruits from South America and all over the world.

Volunteer: Permaculture Education Program

We offer a volunteer program where you receive a comprehensive permaculture education. This is a great opportunity to learn about tropical fruit growing and sustainable permaculture techniques for growing your food.

We only accept volunteers who are vegan, as this is a vegan community. We also only accept volunteers who have experience in / are interested in a raw food diet, and are able to mostly abstain from cooked foods, and consume primarily raw foods while they are here, as this is another important community value of ours. Usually volunteers and residents here are eating all raw foods.

Volunteers...

  • Receive instruction and workshops and participate in group activities based around the following topics: Care of fruit trees, mulching and soil health, soil amendments, biochar, compost systems, ground covers and other companion plants, planning tree placement, tropical fruit varieties and requirements of specific trees, basic banana care, basic papaya care, vegetable gardening in the wet tropics and more.
  • Can eat food produced from the farm for free, but anything beyond that must be purchased themselves from local markets or neighboring farm. We usually do a weekly community produce order to make it easy. Volunteers should expect to spend between $10 and $30 per week on food, but that depends on their personal tastes and spending habits. Some people eat almost entirely from the farm, others purchase more of their food.
  • Work in a group on most days, though you will have the opportunity for solitary tasks if you desire.
  • Receive a set list of tasks to do (on the Trello task management app) and instruction on how to do them. We regularly have group activities and encourage people to work together.
  • Receive a curated list of training videos regarding the permaculture techniques we use here. In addition to the videos, you receive hands-on instruction.
  • Pay $100/month which includes use of facilities and kitchen, campsite accommodation, and all instruction/workshops
  • Generally stay up to 2 months as a volunteer. After that, volunteers can either leave, or ask to become a longer-term community resident.
  • Pay a $100 security deposit, which is returned after your stay (minus the utility payments). Note that if you stay for less than a month, $50 of that will be kept as a donation to the community (it is difficult for us to accommodate short-term volunteers due to the training required for various farm tasks.)
  • Must bring your own tent, sleeping pad, blankets etc. If you don't have a tent, let us know and we may be able to provide you one, as well as a foam sleeping pad. Longer-term volunteers may receive a room in the community house, space allowing. In case of tent rentals, you still provide your sleeping bag / blanket.

What to Bring

Rubber calf-length "wellington"-style boots are necessary. Local hardware stores sell them for around $10/pair, unless your size is 43 (European size) or higher, in which case you'll have to look in a bigger city to find that size.

Other good things to bring:

  • Flashlight or headlamp (something like this)
  • Quality pocketknife (something like this)
  • Long-sleeve pants and shirts (good in the evening when there are gnats)
  • Work clothes and work gloves
  • Sun hat, bandannas or handkerchiefs
  • 1-2 sheets and 2 thin blankets (nights can get to 15C in wet season, usually are 17-19C.)
  • If you are volunteering you must bring your own tent, or arrange with us beforehand to use one of ours if we will have one available. Usually the house and cabins are full and we have most volunteers staying in tents.
  • Bring a sleeping pad and sleeping bag/bedding. The inflatable camping pads don't tend to last long. A foam pad may be better, or, the most comfortable pad we've seen so far is this style of Thai roll-up sleeping pad. You should be able to find a foam sleeping pad at Mall del Rio in Cuenca for $12, if you are passing through there on your way here. Either at the camping store or the Coral.
  • Good thick socks (calf-length, otherwise the gnats will bite your ankles in the evenings.)
  • Natural fiber clothing performs better here than synthetics. Sometimes, light-colored synthetics get mildew really easily whereas cotton, linen, or hemp don't.
  • Please bring your own biodegradable soap/shampoo/etc. Note that we have biodegradable laundry detergent.
  • Do not bring any chemical/synthetic/non-biodegradable soaps or personal hygiene products.
  • A quality daypack/small rucksack for going on long hikes/buying fruit from town/etc
  • Basic personal first aid kit (including this for certain insect bites or illnesses, or this which has a longer shelf-life)
  • If you like going off in the jungle, a water-resistant walkie-talkie with standard CB frequencies
  • For those interested in alternative currencies: Silver and gold coins from APMEX or Provident Metals, if you are interested in transacting in PMs to move away from the paper money of the corrupt central banking system. See this page for more information.
  • Feel free to bring a book to donate to the Fruit Haven library! We have an extensive collection, but we could really use the following titles:

Optional items that will be useful if you want to learn more advanced methods of working with fruit trees:

  • "Silky saw" for pruning fruit trees
  • "Fleco" brand pruning shears for nursery work and pruning
  • A grafting knife if you want to learn how to graft fruit trees, and grafting tape, thin parafilm kind that works for budding, and/or grafting wax

Bugs

Some don't have a problem with bugs, but some newcomers to the area are bitten by gnats/no-see-ums heavily. There are not many mosquitoes. You may wish to bring a mosquito net which is sufficient for no-see-ums. The gnats like ankles and wrists, and the majority of bites can be avoided by simply wearing long sleeves and socks during the times of day that they come out (early morning, early evening, during/after a rain). Natural essential oils are effective (such as citronella, lemongrass, etc) The temperature here is comfortable enough to wear long sleeves during that time with no issue.

What We Provide

We have a limited number of foam mattresses, but you should bring your own blanket/sleeping bag + sleeping pad. Most of the time people will stay in tents. You must bring a tent as all of the available bedrooms and cabins are usually full.

You may rent a tent and foam camping pad from us for $1/night during your volunteer stay, if you do not wish to bring your own. In this case, you must still provide your bedding (sleeping bag, blanket, etc.)

Accommodation

At Fruit Haven 1's community area, The house is a simple, rustic, post-and-beam construction house right on the Rio Zamora. There are 5 bedrooms in the house and also a little cabin nearby. There is a workshop, a plant nursery, and a vegetable garden. There is a warm shower and bathroom. We use a composting toilet, to complete the nutrient cycle.

At FH2's community area, there is a small cabin with a porch, nearby another small cabin. Each sleep 1-2. There is a cold shower and bathroom, a shed, and a plant nursery.

The FH3 community area is not yet complete so we do not yet house volunteers or residents there.

Do We Charge Money?

We charge $100/month for our volunteer program. This is comparable to many other permaculture farms that provide a comprehensive education and community experience. This helps us pay the utility bills bills, as well as upkeep of the gravity-powered water system, community house and facilities, and provide an experience where you learn everything you wanted to know about permaculture in the tropics.

If you'd prefer to stay here with no volunteer work obligation and enjoy the tropical climate and fruits, you can pay a higher fee and rent a room in the house. You can fill out our guest application if you'd like to come. More info on this page. If you rent a room, you can still participate in all volunteer activities and workshops if you like.

Security Deposit

While we like to hope that everyone is responsible, on rare occasions, people break things and do not offer to replace them, or steal things when they leave. To prevent community loss, we charge a $100 security deposit to any newcomer. You receive this deposit back when you leave. If you stay less than one month, you will get $50 back when you leave, and the remaining $50 will be considered a donation.

Volunteer Work

Work generally falls into one of these categories:

Agriculture/Permaculture - Planting trees, maintaining trees, clearing weeds by hand and with machete, mulching, planting, pruning, vegetable garden work.

Nursery work - tending to baby trees/plants in the nursery

Group work will take place from Monday to Friday.

Volunteer Education

Education includes:

Above-listed group activities with instruction and guidance.

Plant ID tour - learn about different fruits we are growing and their companion plants

Permaculture technique tour - Walk around and see our techniques in action.

Biochar Workshop - Make your own biochar and learn about its magic.

Talks on various subjects - For example, learn about which fruit trees require a defined dry season and how to get them to fruit in wetter climates. Or, how to design an area that is to be planted with fruit trees - plant layout, selection, etc.

Curated instructional videos - We've selected (and made) some videos on permaculture topics that will give you the foundation of knowledge you need to get started.

Which Airport should I fly into?

If you fly into Cuenca, you will have a 4.5 hour bus ride to get here. If you fly into Guayaquil, you will have a 9 hour bus rides to get here (2 different buses.) If you fly into Quito, you will have 14 hours of bus rides to get here (usually 2 different buses.)

If you want a detailed description of how to get to this area (Gualaquiza) from the airport in Guayaquil or Quito, you can check out the "Detailed Arrival Instructions" page on the Amazon Fruit Festival website: Detailed Arrival Instructions

PLEASE READ: Travel Safety Tips

Do I need proof of ongoing travel?

Usually to fly into Ecuador from most western countries, you need to provide "proof of ongoing travel" to the airport that you are flying out of. This can be a return ticket. If you do not have a return ticket, you will need to go online and buy a bus ticket from Ecuador to Peru or Colombia. You can do that here if you select "Quito" as your origin city: https://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/

From some other websites you can also buy a ticket from Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru on Cruz del Sur for around $20 or less. If you do not have proof of ongoing travel, they may not let you fly. There are also websites where you can "rent" a flight ticket that is automatically canceled after your travel, the fee for this is about $10. They provide a valid flight ticket, that is solely for the purpose of providing proof of ongoing travel.

Read more on the "About" page (top menu.)