Page last updated: 4 February 2019
Come and Volunteer at Fruit Haven
Want to learn about permaculture and volunteer your time to a worthy cause?
Contact us to learn about volunteering here! We accept volunteers for any length of time.
If you want to stay long-term as a resident/community member, you must start by first volunteering for one month. After that you may become a resident, and after 6 months and review, a community member.
If you're interested in coming, please fill out the volunteer questionnaire here.
Read more about the differences between being a volunteer, and being a community member, 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 plantains, bananas, and other fruits, and are currently planting dozens of varieties of exotic fruits from South America and all over the world.
We offer a work-exchange volunteer program where you receive accommodation in exchange for 20 hours of various farm tasks per week. This is a great opportunity to learn about tropical fruit growing and permaculture.
Volunteers will be provided with free bananas, papayas, some other fruits, and vegetables, as they are available from the farm, but any additional food they will have to purchase. We offer a convenient option to order fruit each week from a local market that is delivered to our farm. Since our farm currently does not produce sufficient quantity or variety to feed everyone here fully, 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.
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.
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.)
- It is a good idea to bring a tent if you have one. Usually the house and cabins are full and we have some people staying in tents.
- For the same reason it can be good to bring a sleeping pad. Often we run out of mattresses. 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.
- 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.
- "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
- 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
- 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.
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.) 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 probably bring your own blanket/sleeping bag + sleeping pad. Most of the time you will sleep 1 to a room but if we have a lot of folks here we may put two volunteers in a room or some people will stay in tents. It is a good idea to bring a tent as we sometimes fill up all of the available bedrooms and cabins.
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.
Do We Charge Money?
We do not charge money for the volunteering program provided you stay at least a month; accommodation received is free. However, we do charge approximately $6 monthly for internet access if you want it. The $6 covers the duration of your stay up to a month, and if you stay longer than a month, you'll pay $6 for each additional month. The exact amount is subject to change. This helps us with the monthly bill. It's a great deal because most internet cafes in Ecuador charge $1/hour.
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 (with some exceptions for short-term visitors or people checking out land buys - we will inform you.) If your stay is longer than 1 month, you get $50 back after one month, and the rest back when you leave, or after 3 months, whichever comes first. During your stay, we will deduct your monthly internet/electric payments (usually $6-$7) from this balance. If you stay less than one month, you will get $50 back when you leave, and the remaining $50 will be considered a donation.
Work generally falls into one of these categories:
Agriculture/Permaculture - Planting trees, maintaining trees, clearing weeds with machete, various tree maintenance tasks, vegetable garden work
Nursery work - tending to baby trees/plants in the nursery
House/facilities repair - this may include sanding, painting, digging, etc
Hospitality/upkeep - this may include cleaning rooms before/after guest arrival, sweeping the common areas, etc.
You will be expected to work 20 hours per week. However we do not set the exact schedule, you can work at your leisure once you see the task list and understand how to complete each task. At the end of each day you will be expected to write in our "Volunteer Work Log" what you did that day. This is also to help you keep track of which days each week you worked, and which are your days off.
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, you can check out the "Detailed Arrival Instructions" page on the AFF website: https://www.amazonianfruitfestival.com
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 usually 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.)