Written By Veronica, Latitudes Year ’21 Ecuador
I am currently living and volunteering on The Rio Muchacho Farm near Canoa, Ecuador. The organic farm and eco-lodge was founded in 1992 and is dedicated to practicing and teaching about sustainable agriculture and tourism. As a volunteer, I help carry out the agricultural work alongside the locals employed by the farm. I work in the morning from 8:30 until 12:00 and again in the afternoon, from 1:30 until 4:00. The work week is Monday to Friday with Wednesday afternoons set aside for cultural experiences. Much of the work is simple farm chores: planting, weeding, harvesting, fertilizing, and taking care of livestock. There are also plenty of unique projects I get to take part in such as building a stone walkway and creating walls out of plastic bottles. An accurate description of my experience here would not be complete without noting Rio Muchacho’s unique and purposeful methods to produce absolutely no waste. With a little extra manual labor and organization, all of the “waste” on the farm is utilized for other purposes. For example, food scraps are used either for animal food or separated for specific composts. Animal feces are reused for fertilizer or for methane gas needed in the kitchen. Over the past month, I have been able to see and get my hands dirty in all the different types of composts; from bokashi that is ready in 10 days to one that is ready in one year. The composts are a huge part of my daily life here because I am guaranteed to either contribute to the creation and maintenance, carry heavy bags of the fertilizer to distribute in the gardens, or eat the vegetables that benefit from the all nutritious soil! Outside of work, I enjoy healthy meals prepared by local cooks, read in hammocks, or converse with the workers. There are more opportunities to practice Spanish than I expected! In the future, I will help facilitate groups of students coming to stay for multiple days; much like group semesters for Carpe Diem. I look forward to disseminating all the information I have learned thus far! Otherwise, I am content in continuing a simple lifestyle remaining in close contact with nature and organic food production.