The program is composed of eight thematic modules over the course of eight weeks. It is a great combination of theoretical learning and practical implementation of what has been learned working in the agroecological farms of cacao and other tropical fruits that farmers produce. The student – volunteers may come at any time of the course, although it is advisable to do so in the first week of each month, when the modules in Permaculture design are taught. Classes and work will be held in the morning from 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 pm approximately. In the evenings you will have free time to support community processes, teach English to children and women in Caimito, go to the beach to relax, learn how to cook the local cuisine, etc. In addition, Spanish classes are offered.caimito5

 

Caimito is a small community belonging to the parish of Quingue, in the province of Esmeraldas. There are 15 families that live in Caimito which work, mainly, in the cultivation of cacao, banana, papaya and other tropical fruits.

Caimito is characterized by being located in one of the most biodiverse and ecologically privileged places in the world. It is one of the last remnants of Tropical Rainforest (Chocó) on the coast of Ecuador. It is located near the Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve and it is part of the Galera-San Francisco Marine Reserve, the first marine reserve established along  the continental coast of Ecuador in which, according to experts, there is a greater biodiversity even than in the Galapagos Islands.

caimito4Many families of this community, aware of the uniqueness of their habitat, are learning the importance of taking care of this special ecosystem through sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of subsistence.

In 2008, with this objective of sustainability and conservation in mind, the Asociación Caimito Sustentable was formed as a non-profit organization mostly by the local people.

In addition, in the past few years different actors have joined in this process with the intention of helping for the conservation of this special place through projects funded by local and foreign non-profits, different institutions and also with the collaboration of different people such as biologists, farmers, volunteers, permaculture designers, etc.

 

Our team is formed by people from different parts of the world and cultures. Our passion is working to improve the current state of nature and the living conditions of the people through the principles of Permaculture. Our goal is to support Caimito so it becomes a community model of sustainable development, working together and in harmony with Mother Earth.

We believe that to realize our dream it is very important to share our way of living and our knowledge by raising awareness about the importance of living in connection with nature as opposed to what the current consumer society  demands. Therefore, we welcome people from everywhere and from all fields to enrich each other and to help us to achieve our goal.

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The team in charge for carrying out this program is formed by the following ecologically minded individuals:

George Fletcher was born in Peru. He is a biologist and an expert in Tropical Permaculture. He is the person in charge of all tasks related to agroecology in the area and the coordinator of the Regenerative Agriculture Project. He also works as an adviser for different farmers organizations, local associations and Non-profits. He speaks perfect English and will be in charge of the theorical lessons of this program and will also be the director of some of the practices.

Diego Tejedor was born in Spain and received his Sociology degree at the University of Madrid. He first came to Caimito as a volunteer, fell in love with the place and is now an active member of the community. He is highly committed to environmental conservation, the development of the local population and very interested on the ethical principles of Permaculture. He also speaks very fluent english. He is the coordinator of this program.

Rogelio Simbaña, Ecuadorian and  indigenous descent. In 2005, he obtained his diploma in Design and Consulting in Permaculture in the prestigious IPEC from Brazil. Since then, he has worked for indigenous people, nationally and internationally, in issues such as sustainable building, technical management of water, renewable energy, etc. He is a founding member of the Seed Guardian’s Network of Ecuador, that works for the recovery and conservation of ancestral seeds.

Fabiola Mosquera was born in Caimito and is the current President of the Asociación Caimito Sustentable. She is an expert in ecological agriculture, especially in the cultivation of cacao and other fruits. Her role in this program is to teach the practical portions of the program by leading the mingas (collective work) in the agroecological farms.

Isidro Suárez has worked as a farmer for his entire life. A decade ago he had his first contact with Permaculture and since then has become an expert on different topics, such as ecological agriculture and sustainable building. He is in charge of directing the mingas in the agroecological farms.

Jorge Domínguez was born in the southern coast of Ecuador and is very committed to environmental conservation. He is our expert on issues related to the improvement of soil fertility as well as the restoration of watersheds. He assists in leading the mingas for volunteers to apply theoretical concepts in practice.

There is a very special group of people that will be working as consultants and, when they are in Caimito, also as teachers of some of the modules:

Ben Murray arrived to Caimito 10 years ago and shared and spread the deep permaculture knowledge he learned from his experience in the US and Brazil. He is an ecological designer and an expert in water systems, soil’s fertility and also works in eco-construction.

Gregory Landua has B.S. in Environmental Science and Ethics from Oregon State University, and M.S. in Regenerative Entrepreneurship and Design from Gaia University.  Gregory’s current work focuses on regenerative supply chain development for tropical ingredients.  He develops permaculture projects based on his profound understanding of relationships between ecological agriculture, the political climate and business.

Luke Smith is an ecological designer and educator with a deep commitment to landscape regeneration, ecological agriculture, food sovereignty and regenerative enterprise development. He holds a B.Sc in Biology from the University of Sussex and a M.Sc in Conservation Biology from University College London.

The current system of food production, as well as all human activities, works on the basis to the prevailing principle of the mass-production without any limits and without taking into account the social and environmental impact involved. The consequences of this model are disastrous, involving the daily extinction of 150 species (according to the UN data) and the inhumane exploitation of millions of disadvantaged persons. In this module you will learn the principles and ethics of Permaculture, which we consider crucial to counter the current convenctional model, as well as concepts and techniques of ecological design.
In the forests where there is no human intervention, the development of plants is produced continuously thanks to a permanent feedback effect: leaves, grasses and shrubs die and decompose on the ground creating a layer of organic compounds that infiltrates inside the soil and becomes food for the other plants growing there. Furthermore, animals give organic fertilizer for plants through their manure and when they die and decompose they also become nutrients for plants. In the conventional farming system deforestation, erosion and the use of chemicals in monoculture break this cycle and soils begin a progressive loss of fertility. In this module we will teach the origin, classification and structure of soils and you wil learn techniques for good management, preservation and improvement of soil fertility. The practical part will take place in agroforestry systems (agroecological farms from local people) in which biodiversity is promoted to imitate the functioning of forests.
Conventional agriculture and cattle production contribute directly to the progressive deterioration of water sources: pollution by agrochemicals, extreme sedimentation due to erosion as a product of deforestation, periods of strong droughts and floods… These are just some of the implications that conventional agriculture and cattle industry have on water, perhaps the most valuable resource not only to humans, but to all organisms on the planet. The cycle of water and its physical properties, ecologically-minded planning for sustainable development, and the determination of important conservation areas for wildlife will be studied in this module. Basic concepts in aquaculture will also be incorporated. In the practical portion, we will work on watershed restoration and management at agroecological farms where little rivers pass through.
It is estimated that every day 25,000 hectares of forest are lost in the world. The majority of these forests are destroyed to establish areas for the mass production of food. The loss of biodiversity and climate chaos that this destruction produces is devastating and serves as evidence of how harmful and irrational that human beings can be. In this module you will learn how to identify conservation areas and biological corridors on a small scale for biodiversity conservation. Practices will be held at the community nursery working in the management of wild and cultivated seeds, grafting of fruit trees, preparation of substrates, and formation of irrigation systems. We will also be working in reforestation in the agroecological farms and in the forest.
The system of intensive agriculture and cattle production has increased exponentially in the past few years in tropical countries. Owners of lands cut the forests to implement monocultures of mass produced cultivars such as soybean, african palm, and other plants, and the impact of these monocultures is particularly negative on native ecosystems. We really need to work for the conservation of these forests since they are crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change. This module will explore basic concepts about the ecology of the tropical rain forest and ancestral agricultural knowledge from these kinds of forests. We will learn permaculture techniques for ecological design in this type of ecosystem.
There are very few farmers, regardless of whether they follow conventional or organic management, that have knowledge about the enormous influence that microorganisms have on soil fertility. Through the use of agrochemicals and other conventional agriculture techniques, the diversity of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms present in the soil decreases, which, in turn, affects the processing of organic matter and availability of nutrients for plants. In this module we will learn extensively about the soil ecosystem and how to identify different microorganisms present in it. Different techniques will be applied to improve the balance of beneficial microorganisms in the soil in order to increase soil fertility and productivity.
We are firm believers in the wise words of Bill Mollison, widely considered to be the father of permaculture: “The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” Thus, in this module, we focus on important concepts such as food sovereignty and food security, agrobiodiversity issues, and other topics (such as organic pesticides, mulching, etc.). You will learn to design and manage gardens in the tropics to promote the agro-ecological production of vegetables and medicinal plants.
The construction of houses, buildings and different structures can have a very negative environmental impact on both a local and global level. The consequences of mining for materials, the pollution that cement and other conventional construction materials, or the poor management of waste treatment facilities, are just a few examples. In this module you will learn about the construction and production of renewable and biodegradable materials (e.g., wood, bamboo, vegetable fibers, etc). You will apply techniques for the sustainable management of waste, such as the use of dry toilets and greywater.

Contact us for information about this volunteer program 🙂

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Caimito Banana Trip
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Caimito Ecuador
Caimito Ecuador
Caimito Ecuador
Taller in Caimito Ecuador
Team in Caimito
Taller in Caimito Ecuador
Meeting in Caimito
Cacao machete opening in Caimito